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Sheryl Sandberg and Technology's Female Leaders 181

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-the-glass-ceiling dept.
AlistairCharlton writes "While the rest of the world continues to see men dominating, the technology industry seems set to change that. I investigate how Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Meg Whitman and Joanna Shields are paving the way for the rest of the business community. From the article: 'A glance at the male/female split of world leaders (178/17), Fortune 500 CEOs (96 percent/four percent) and FTSE 100 board seats (85 percent/15 percent) reveals there is a huge imbalance between the sexes, but in technology change is underway - and Sandberg is at the very forefront of it. Along with Meg Whitman, Marissa Mayer and Joanna Shields of HP, Yahoo and London's Tech City respectively, Sandberg represents a shift in what was not so long ago an all-male industry.'"
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Sheryl Sandberg and Technology's Female Leaders

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  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:25PM (#43141515)
    for being sociopathic, greedy CEOs and politicians, only then will we have equality.
    • There are plenty of women that I despise for being sociopathic and greedy as it is. More so with men. But what's this "when" crap? Just call it out like it is. Don't be a coward about it! Grow a pair and speak your mind freely!

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        That is the dumbest thing I've heard all day, how'd confronting those women in your life go for you?

        • Worked out well. I said what needed to be said (the truth) and parted ways. Don't let people get away with with bad behavior. At the very least, don't let them negatively effect your life. I sure as hell don't.

          • by Synerg1y (2169962)

            I ask because my experience with senior female management has been that they're very egotistic and go out of their way to try and be reverse-dominant. Typically, not very pleasant people to work with. I'm sure there's some good ones and I work with one right now, but at what point is throwing logic out the window and going on an emotional tantrum not good for the business? Somehow, most of the males I've worked with seem to have an easy time avoiding this non-aspect of business.

            I'm not trying to stereoty

    • So... you've never been married, then?

    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:30PM (#43142203) Journal

      They already are? Who is more hated than Nancy Pelosi? Who is more dangerous than Janet Napolitano? Who has fucked up more than Carly Fiorina?

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      We also need a few good sexual harassment scandals.

    • Looking for something that isn't there. Women are and always have been large contributors to the tech world. They just normally operate behind the scenes--on the same hand most men operate behind the scenes.

    • by oztiks (921504)

      I have to be honest with you though Sandberg hits those categories with flying colours. Not that I can gauge what type of person she really is but she is a:

      - Greedy "CFO" (one of the biggest insiders that Facebook has);
      - Sociopath (works for Facebook?); and
      - Loves to bullshit shareholders (Facebook is not worth $60B).

      So she ticks all the boxes in my book!

      • by popo (107611) on Monday March 11, 2013 @06:41PM (#43143581) Homepage

        Statistics like. "85% of board seats are held by men, so clearly there's a long way to go" are highly misleading.

        The underlying premise is that all things being equal, the seats should be 50% female. But that premise is silly.

        If 75% of women elect to raise families and focus less on their careers (not a real statistic, just an example) then it would stand to reason that 25% would not hold equally senior positions to their male colleagues who pursued only career. And if women more frequently choose majors like psychiatry, French language, Art History and women's studies, then their lack of representation on boards of tech companies would also be justified.

        This is the general problem with numerical male:female ratios: They discount the other options which draw women of their own free will, and misrepresent the existing ratio as "repression" of some kind.

        The goal is NOT equal representation. It is equal OPPORTUNITY. If board seats were 50% women, that would likely represent male oppression as there are typically more men pursuing careers applicable to those seats than women. When women complain about unequal ratios they are demanding their cake while wanting to eat it too. They are actually demanding unequal favorable treatment for themselves at the expense of men.

        • by oztiks (921504)

          I would like to state that this is right as I also believe feminists in general should mind their own business.

          As an example my mom who is a hard working, highly driven person has her priorities in life.

          She is from back in the day when the man brought home the wage and the woman stayed at home and looked after the home / kids. Her beliefs are that as a wife and woman she had a very important role to play within the family unit which served to keep the family strong and functioning.

          She dreaded the day men we

  • Carly (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:25PM (#43141523)

    Don't forget Carly Fiorina and her contributions to making HP and Compaq the successful companies they are today.

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      There's no reason to extrapolate one woman to all women. But yes, Carly was bad.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why not? Women do that to men all the time.

    • Re:Carly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:30PM (#43142207)

      Carly wasn't bad because she's a woman, or because she's a self-absorbed sociopath who only saw HP as a big money pot from which she could extract a personal fortune (regardless of the costs to the company or its employees), she was actively incompetent at running a technology company due to a lack of experience with, or any interest in, high technology. Her education was in liberal arts, and then several extended business degrees. That's pretty much a formula for failure in almost any industry, but particularly so in the tech industry. She was just a female version of John Scully's disastrous run at Apple without Scully's good luck at joining at the right time.

      • Carly wasn't bad because she's a woman, or because she's a self-absorbed sociopath who only saw HP as a big money pot from which she could extract a personal fortune (regardless of the costs to the company or its employees), ...

        I thought that was part of the typical CEO job-description. Perhaps just typical on Wall Street then...

    • by operagost (62405)
      Compaq was acquired by HP well before she became CEO.
  • by EjectButton (618561) on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:29PM (#43141569)
    Surprising that this article praises the disaster that is Meg Whitman, and completely omits Ginni Rometty the current CEO of IBM who has worked everywhere within the company over 30 years and has CS and EE degrees.
    • Also Xerox (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alispguru (72689) <bane@gs[ ]om ['t.c' in gap]> on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:42PM (#43141707) Journal

      ... which has had all female CEOs since 2001.

      Xerox is not as exciting as HP, but its CEOs have not done large, showy reorganizations that destroyed once-proud solid engineering traditions, so there's that.

      • Re:Also Xerox (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:48PM (#43142391)

        ... which has had all female CEOs since 2001.

        Xerox is not as exciting as HP, but its CEOs have not done large, showy reorganizations that destroyed once-proud solid engineering traditions, so there's that.

        Um, what? You really don't know what you're talking about do you... Ursula Burns took over Xerox and then took a wreaking ball straight to engineering.

        Ursula Burns sold off large portions of engineering based in the USA to HCL [theoutsourceblog.com], an Indian outsourcing company, then proceeded to dismantle or outsource everything related to product engineering.

        But hey, at least she's hiring call center employees [13wham.com] to replace the engineering positions that have been moved to India.

        Ursula Burns is the number one most hated CEO [businessinsider.com] in the tech industry. I wonder why?

        • Gentlemen, you're right - I haven't looked closely at Xerox in a year or two. Ms. Burns had the right promoted-from-within credentials to run Xerox without grossly screwing it up, but it appears she did so anyway.

          This just solidifies my plan to sell the Xerox stock I've had since 1988.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Speaking as someone who was IRIF'ed during a large, showy reorganization at Xerox, I beg to differ:
        http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9228947/Xerox_s_outsourcing_one_year_later_layoffs [computerworld.com]
        And that move definitely destroyed the once-proud solid engineering traditions of the Phaser printer org that Xerox acquired from Tektronix. Used to be an amazing group of innovative engineers there, and now just a burnt out husk remains.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Add Ursula Burns [wikipedia.org] (CEO of Xerox) who comes from a disadvantaged background and has two science degrees.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:52PM (#43141805)

      completely omits Ginni Rometty the current CEO of IBM who has worked everywhere within the company over 30 years and has CS and EE degrees.

      Maybe because she spends her time running the company, instead of grandstanding about herself in the media . . . ?

      • Carol Barth did well running Autodesk. Not so well at Yahoo, but that was Yahoo's problem. Nobody else has been able to turn around Yahoo either.

    • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:06PM (#43141947)

      I think there are two types of CEO and it's not really about gender.

      One of them knows a lot about the business because they worked their way up in the company and will follow an evolutionary path. Maybe their skills are a bit out of date by the time they get to the top, but at least they had skills once.

      The other is someone who has worked in management jobs in a lot of companies doing a lot of different stuff, getting to be CEO via a series of jumped ships - each one higher than the last but each one was in a completely different business area. They'll follow a completely unpredictable and revolutionary path with a high chance of failure because they don't really know anything about the concrete business area - they've only really worked in it as CEO and if you're CEO you're right axiomatically when you say anything. They do however know a lot about business in the abstract - megatrends like outsourcing vs insourcing for example. They are probably very, very intelligent and persuasive too - you need to be if you can talk people into giving you the keys to their billion dollar company.

      I think there's a need for both types of people in an organisation but you're kidding yourself if you think hiring someone who knows nothing about the business as CEO means they will beat the odds - i.e. outperform the evolutionary alternative.

      It has happened of course, but I think people overestimate the probability of it. But then again most share holders are terrible gamblers who always think they can beat the odds. So it's not that surprising that boards made up of shareholders hire type II CEOs and screw the company. Then again maybe they knew that the evolutionary approach wasn't good enough to keep the company going too. That's probably true of most household name companies - an evolutionary approach means they will fade away in a couple of decades.

      • by gordo3000 (785698)

        more important:
        being CEO of a successful company. The number of CEOs that have engineered proper turn arounds of a failing company are very few. You could make me CEO of apple tomorrow and even if I did nothing for several years, things would be great. Look at how Even easier: make me CEO of a company whose success has more to do with the macro economy (think Exxon and oil prices, or banks and increased loan demand) and you will look very smart.

        Ken Lewis worked his way up from loan officer to CEO of Bank

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:32PM (#43141601)

    The rest of us just don't care about the gender of who successfully runs a company.

    Only when they unsuccessfully run it does someone get their panties in a knot by playing some imaginary gender card.

    The majority "Don't give a fuck." I don't see too many men (or women) complaining that only women can give birth.

    • by XanC (644172)

      I don't see too many men (or women) complaining that only women can give birth.

      Oh yes they do:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFBOQzSk14c [youtube.com]

    • by jythie (914043)
      Eh, it does matter though. People tend to hire and promote people like themselves, and when you look at companies that have women in senior positions they also tend to have more women all through the career path including more hires in the first place. So women have a better chance of being hired and getting promotions at a company run by a woman.
    • "imaginary gender card"? You need to build up the nerve for the first time in your life to talk to a woman in IT and see what she thinks about that.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        and white knights like you need to move beyond shaming language and ad hominem when others (rightly) the hypocrisy of using gender discrimination to fight gender discrimination.

    • by Seumas (6865)

      I'm a bit tired of everything having to be celebrated when it's "the first time . . . . for a woman" to do something. I suppose it still even being remotely worth commenting on when it happens is sort of the point, though.

      At any rate, I've had the fortune to work with some fucking amazing women in my career. Not as a CEO or anything, yet, but as managers and colleagues and they have earned everything they've achieved and then some. If anything, stories about successful women just sort of tire me, because I'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You go girl. Best known for her groundbreaking leadership on which project again? Don't be afraid to be bossy. Buy my book.

  • by databeast (19718) on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:39PM (#43141677) Homepage

    Female executives for a company that just happens to be in tech, doesn't count to women in tech, just women in business.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:25PM (#43142135) Homepage

      That's not really true, and it shows the dangers of lumping people together. An example of the difference:

      - Marissa Mayer has a B.S. and M.S., with honors, from Stanford specializing in artificial intelligence. That's where she met Larry and Sergei, and became Google employee #20 as an engineer. It's safe to say that if you put her down in front of a bash prompt with some broken code she'd show you that she is in fact quite capable technically. So I'd consider her a woman in tech, and a highly successful one at that.

      - Meg Whitman has no technical skills whatsoever, and is the exemplar of the myth that it's possible to run an organization well when you have no clue what your people are doing. Her career start was as a brand manager for Proctor & Gamble, then management consulting, and as far as I can tell she's never held a job where her primary responsibility was to actually make a product or sell a product. To give you an idea, at the beginning of her time at eBay, the website crashed, so Whitman's first goal was to create a new executive team.

      • by operagost (62405)
        You sound like an idiot who read two [wikipedia.org] adjacent [wikipedia.org] facts in a Wikipedia article and thought they were related. Hint: in 1998, most fledgling sites crashed a lot and many new CEOs reorganize as one of their first tasks. You should bone up on your research skills before you turn in that essay for 8th grade English next week.
      • Marissa Mayer is a data dork who was hot and in the right place at the right time. Yes, her degrees are difficult to attain (with honors), but a degree doesn't mean **jack shit** to the profit margin.

        Here's the problem with this article:

        1. Superficial examination of women CEO's, omitted many examples (as stated above IBM's CEO and others)

        2. Takes mainstream understanding of what a 'successful tech company' looks like. Business must have a sustainable profit model or they are nothing.

        3. These women drive the

  • Let us not forget though that tech used to have a larger female representation then it does today. So when we are back to the ratio we had in the 80s and push beyond that, THEN we can start patting ourselves on the back.
    • Re:shift.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by englishknnigits (1568303) on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:56PM (#43141833)
      How about pat ourselves on the back when we feel there is equal opportunity and stop caring about ratios (outcome)? Equal opportunity != equal outcome.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jythie (914043)
        Actually, equal opportunity, spread out across a large industry, should have pretty equal outcome. The poor ratio is a good indicator that access is not equal.
        • What basis in reality do you have to support that claim? Female and male interests are not identically distributed so why would the outcomes be identical? Do you think that the ratio of men and women that buy/wear dresses will be the same as long as there is equal opportunity for men and women to buy dresses?

          I would agree that an unequal ratio is sufficient reason to ask the question if there is actually equal opportunity but it doesn't mean there isn't equal opportunity.
  • Work bottom-up, don't approach it top-down.

  • by elucido (870205) on Monday March 11, 2013 @03:50PM (#43141781)

    Just having female leaders is worthless if those leaders aren't any more responsible than the male leaders who preceded them. It's about responsible leadership not male to female ratios.

  • Really not trying to be sexist here which is the first problem. It's really difficult to address the difficulties pertaining to male vs. female co-workers/bosses when the core issues are so deeply ingrained in the differences which make it sexist.

    I think I just gave myself a migrain.

    • by Piata (927858)

      I got a migrain just trying to figure out what you were not trying to say while simultaneously trying to say something.

  • by Torp (199297) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:01PM (#43141895)

    Of "you can work 200 hour weeks if you sleep under your desk" (while at google) and more recently "no more telecommute" (at yahoo) fame?
    Is that someone to be praised, regardless of gender?
    I think she belongs on the "stay away form wherever she works" list.

    • Re:Marissa Mayer (Score:4, Insightful)

      by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:08PM (#43141969)

      Waaah, MM took away work-at-home so now she's the new evil IT emperor?

    • Oh, the hypocrisy. [nbcnews.com]

      • by Torp (199297)

        Mmm that I didn't know. I thought she was still sleeping under her desk and doing 200 hour weeks while pregnant...

  • perhaps we could see what the females on slashdot think? *crickets*
    • by Anonymous Coward

      right, because there's no reason the "females" on slashdot might choose to skip reading the comments on this article.

      • From an X-chromosome perspective, it's more funny to read the war between the chauvinists and the white knights. On a serious note, I'll add my two cents: Don't treat me like I'm your secretary, don't put me on a pedestal. Treat me like a normal cubmate, give me projects appropriate for my level of competency, and if I screw something up call me on it. Really, it's that simple.
        • IE, my spelling on cubemate*
        • by yndrd1984 (730475)

          Don't treat me like I'm your secretary, don't put me on a pedestal. Treat me like a normal [cube-mate], give me projects appropriate for my level of competency, and if I screw something up call me on it.

          Don't be a jerk, and don't "protect" people who don't want your "protection"? Soon you'll be saying that we should just treat people like people!

        • by epyT-R (613989)

          Tell that to the feminist lobby groups in washington who claim to speak for you..

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      and why would their positions be any less biased? Humans, male or female, will act/defend their own interests.

  • Let this play out... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:20PM (#43142077) Homepage

    A significant amount of the smart, talented women I know despise working for other women because female managers can be awful to women in a way that many men cannot even dream of treating female subordinates. Even in college, I saw some of this as one female professor was known to be utterly ruthless to female students who slacked off to a degree she almost never, ever dished out to her male students.

    So I look forward to this trend with amusement because it very well may lay the foundation for an implosion of female involvement in our fields. And then the cycle will repeat itself...

  • by elistan (578864) on Monday March 11, 2013 @04:31PM (#43142217)
    This morning on Morning Edition [npr.org] NPR broadcast a talk with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. (Probably because Sandberg has a new book out on the subject.) I thought it was quite interesting.
    • by slew (2918)

      This morning on Morning Edition [npr.org] NPR broadcast a talk with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. (Probably because Sandberg has a new book out on the subject.) I thought it was quite interesting.

      On the other hand this book also got Gloria Allred on the warpath to bash the book. Ms Allred's claim is that 'Lean In' (the title of Ms Sandberg's book) is a thinly veiled attempt to blame women for their own predicament. The basic premise of the book (I haven't read it yet), appears to be that women are not self-confident enough and that career choices for women are often about compromise, some of which are compromises that male colleagues do not have to make.

      Instead, Ms Allred (in numerous radio interv

      • I missed the NPR broadcast today, nor have I seen Gloria Allred's accounts; but I saw Sheryl Sandberg as a keynote at the Grace Hopper conference in 2011, and she actually did a solid speech on a very similar topic. IIRC, she discussed the challenges and compromises that women make in technology or other male-dominated field; but she also discussed how that landscape can change, and how women can achieve success both with their family and in a career, similar to your summation of Ms Allred's points. I'm n
  • But CEOs/COOs are not really that humble.
  • ... as shown in the Showtime documentary "House of lies".

  • This was in the Sunday NYTimes Magazine. As I get older (not old...older) it surprises me how our society automatically makes assumptions about what it means to be successfull and how those assumptions always seem to glorify to work. Work, work, work, work. For beings with limited lifespans it seems like such a waste of time and energy.

    "Is There Life After Work?"
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/opinion/sunday/is-there-life-after-work.html?_r=0

    Erin Callan is the former chief financial officer of

  • Former CFO of Lehman Brothers is now crying over the loss of her marriage and lack of a family. Oh, boo hoo. Psychotic, the lot of them.

  • I try to protect my friends, my family, and even my clients from the burden of undue stress and tedious work.

    As much as I enjoy the work that I do, the requirement of doing it in order to survive is a burden.

    I'm quite certain that one day the world will discover that working for a living results in a lesser life -- for some real value of lesser.

    So, in short, I'm all for women working. But I'm not at all interested in equality. I want to stay home barefoot in the kitchen with life's great rewards -- i.e. f

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