Tech execs: It's a good time to be a woman in tech (live blog)

On CES panel, three tech leaders--Google's Marissa Mayer, Flickr founder Catarina Fake, and Padmasree Warrior of Cisco--talk about the issues women face in a field dominated by men.

What's it like to be a top manager or engineer in Silicon Valley and a woman? Google's Marissa Mayer, Flickr founder Catarina Fake, and Padmasree Warrior of Cisco Systems talked about that and more today at the CNET Women in Tech panel.

The three agreed that progress has been made, but that there's still a long way to go to get more women into the technology field.

Mayer said she believes we need to get more people interested in technology overall--men and women. Warrior said we need to find ways to keep women in the workforce and that we need more role models. Among Fake's advice was that women should set their sights higher and take promotions and other opportunities.

The panel was hosted by CNET TV personality Molly Wood and Lindsey Turrentine, editor in chief of CNET Reviews, on the CNET stage at the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall.

We used ScribbleLive to live-blog the press conference, so if you missed it, you can scroll through it in the embedded component below. That will give you all the live updates along with commentary from our readers and CNET reporters.

Editors' note: The original version of this story, which is below, was posted January 5 at 5:49 p.m. PT.

What's it like to be a top manager or engineer in Silicon Valley and be a woman? Google's Marissa Mayer, Flickr founder Catarina Fake, and Padmasree Warrior of Cisco will tell us at the CNET Women in Tech panel next week.

Marissa Mayer was the first female engineer at Google.
Marissa Mayer was the first female engineer at Google. James Martin/CNET

The panel will be hosted by CNET TV personality Molly Wood and Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews, at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the CNET stage at the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall. It will also be streamed live on the CNET CES 2012 site.

To get to where they are now, Mayer, Fake and Warrior had to learn to work and excel in a male-dominated field in positions with few, if any, female counterparts. To do that they challenged stereotypes and proved that it doesn't matter what gender you are as a leader, you just need vision, authority and daring.

Design maven
Mayer proudly calls herself a "geek," but her background in ballet dancing and penchant for high fashion have broken whatever mold women engineers were believed to have come from.

"The number one most important thing we can do to increase the number of women in tech is to show a multiplicity of different role models," Mayer said in an interview with The Huffington Post last summer. The computer scientist stereotype, typically portrayed as an introvert in glasses who doesn't leave the computer, "really hurts people's understanding and ability to identify with the role and say, 'Yes, this is something I can be in and want to be in.'"

When Mayer joined Google in 1999, she was the first female engineer the search start-up hired. She had a bachelor's degree in symbolic systems and a master's in Computer Science, both from Stanford University, and had worked at UBS research lab in Zurich and SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif.

Currently vice president of location and local services at Google, Mayer has overseen much of the technology and user interface features on Google Search. She was named one of the 50 most powerful women in the world by Fortune magazine in 2010 and was one of Glamour Magazine's women of the year in 2009.

Social entrepreneur Fake's two start-ups--Flickr and Hunch--focus on using technology to enhance social and everyday interactions. Since inclusion and diversity are important to human relations and communications, the lack of women in tech firms is seen as a problem for the firm and the industry as a whole.

"I have always been a woman in technology, very much in the minority, as we all are. I do remember when I got my first job in the Internet, and the guy interviewing me asked me, 'So how would you feel if it was you and 20 guys all working together?' I said, 'Well, I hope you're working on rectifying that because, it doesn't sound like a healthy culture or a healthy community, to me,'" Fake said in an interview with Discovery's Curiosity.com last month. "Part of why I do what I do--part of the community-building and humanizing technology work that needs to be done. People will stereotype and say, 'That's a very female way of going about, approaching product design and technology.' Maybe yes. Maybe no. But I've always felt as if my role was to be that person--to be mindful of the humanity in the technology."

Catarina Fake co-founded Flickr and Hunch.
Catarina Fake co-founded Flickr and Hunch. Founder Collective

Flickr, which Fake launched in 2004 with her then-husband Stewart Butterfield, became an early social media success story. It was later acquired by Yahoo and Fake then ran the company's technology development group, including the Hack Yahoo program and Brickhouse. She co-founded Hunch, which she describes as a customized "decision-making site," in 2009 and sold it last year to eBay.

Previously Fake was art director at Salon.com and helped develop the site's community features. She is a founder partner at Founder Collective and serves as chairman of the board of Etsy. She also was named as one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in 2006, one of BusinessWeek's Best Leaders of 2005, as well as included on influential entrepreneur lists in Forbes, Fast Company and Red Herring.

Visionary advocate
When Warrior began working for Motorola in the early 1980s, women had to act strong to compensate for not being male. Attitudes have changed in the past few decades and women are more free to be themselves in the workforce now. Rather than be discouraged by the continued gender imbalance in the tech world, Warrior encourages women to capitalize on the situation and stand out, as well as share power, without giving it away.

"I think perhaps two decades ago, even as I was entering the workforce, women were told they had to be tough in the tech world and have a thick skin. Now, we're in an environment where you can be who you want to be," she said in an interview with The Huffington Post in October. "I always tell women that the fact that you're different and that you're noticed, because there are few of us in the tech industry, is something you can leverage as an advantage."

Warrior grew up in Vijayawada in southern India and earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and a master's degree in the same field at Cornell University. She joined Motorola in 1984 and was named chief technology officer in 2003. At Motorola she pushed the idea of "Seamless Mobility" for communications anywhere at anytime, an idea that later was realized. Motorola was awarded the 2004 National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush while she was CTO. In 2007, she left to become CTO of Cisco Systems.

Padmasree Warrior was chief technology officer at Motorola before becoming CTO at Cisco.
Padmasree Warrior was chief technology officer at Motorola before becoming CTO at Cisco. Cisco Systems

She was inducted into the Women in Information Technology International Hall of Fame in 2007, was named one of four rising stars on Fortune Magazine's 2006 list of Most Powerful Women in Business, and was among six "Women Elevating Science and Technology" honored by Working Woman Magazine in 2001. In addition, Warrior serves on the boards of the Joffrey Ballet and Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Chicago Mayor's Technology Council, and is in the State Department's International Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership.

Updated January 6 at 9 a.m. PT to add that the event is Wednesday, January 11.

 

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