Women need more role models, tech leaders tell CES panel

A group of top female tech executives told the CNET Women in Tech panel at the Consumer Electronics Show that women will advance in the industry with more role models throughout companies.

Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews, Google Vice President Marissa Mayer, Flickr founder Catarina Fake, Cisco Systems Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior, and CNET Executive Editor Molly Wood on CNET Women in Tech panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. James Martin/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Even though women have taken great strides in technology, a panel of top women in the industry suggested that great role models could help them gain more.

Those role models shouldn't be merely top executives, said Cisco Systems Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior, one of the highest ranking women in the industry. Young women considering pursuing careers in tech need to see accomplished women in a variety of jobs.

"We need to have successful role models at every level," Warrior said during CNET Women in Tech panel at the Consumer Electronics Show here this afternoon.

Warrior was joined on the panel by Google Vice President Marissa Mayer, Flickr founder Catarina Fake, and Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews. Warrior told the panel, moderated by CNET Executive Editor Molly Wood, that women didn't need "heroes." What helps, though, are women who can talk about the struggles they've faced, and the tactics they've used to overcome them.

"There is value in sharing your experiences," Warrior said.

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A challenge for many young women in the industry is that it can be hard for them to reach out to older male colleagues to ask advice. There are societal constraints in a 25-year-old woman sending a note to a 45-year-old man wanting to talk about career options after work.

"There is a barrier," Fake said.

She acknowledged the stress of trying to be a good mother while still doing her job well. At one point, Fake's daughter got jealous about her going to so many meetings. So the daughter decided to have her own meetings, with stuffed animals where they discussed balloons. Fake decided it was important for the family to have meetings that her daughter could participate in, complete with notepads and pencils.

"It worked out really well," Fake said.

Mayer thinks one of the ways to get more women in tech is to simply get more people in tech. There is too much focus on how much of the pie is women when schools in this country graduate far too few students with tech education of both genders. If the number of science and engineering graduates climbs, the problem of so few women in the industry will start to improve.

"We really just need to get that number up," Mayer said.

She said she really doesn't think about her gender when she considers her role at the Web giant.

"I'm not a woman at Google. I'm a geek at Google," Mayer said.

 

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