What distinction do 24 out of the current Fortune 500 CEOs carry? These 24 are the only female CEOs in this elite business group. With women making up just 22% of people in the technology field, a number gathered by the Global Knowledge’s 2014 IT Skills and Salary Report, it feels like a victory in contrast to the sparse numbers of women who are Fortune 500 CEOs. Unfortunately, it’s not just the CEO position that lacks. Among all C-level executive positions, women are hard to find.
According to Fortune, this number of women is at a historic high since the gender of CEOs was first considered in 1998. At that time, only one CEO out of 500 was a woman. Since 1998, female representation has fluctuated. So, who are these women representing us in the most powerful technology companies driving innovation?
Ranked number one on Fortune’s list of IBM’s Virginia Rometty is transforming the traditional IBM technology landscape. Rometty began at IBM as a systems engineer in 1981 and held many leadership roles there, including two SVP positions. As chairman, president and CEO, Rometty has created a strong push for the mobility movement. She believes in the power of big data as a natural resource and its ability to provide insight for smarter decisions.
Meg Whitman, chairman, president and CEO of HP, paved the way for leading women early on. In 1998, Whitman joined eBay as CEO for her first of many executive positions. Under her leadership, eBay transformed from a small company to one that held multi-billion dollar revenue. Now at HP, Whitman continues to develop their mix of hardware and services with the recent purchase of Eucalyptus, a cloud computing software. Whitman is accompanied by another female C-level executive at HP, Cathie Lesjak, who serves as the executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, continues to shape the direction of Cisco’s technology plan. Warrior began her career at Motorola where she became the company’s CTO in 2003 and was promoted to executive VP in 2005 before joining Cisco in 2007. As Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, Warrior ensures that Cisco’s technology and business model are aligned to grow and dominate the IT marketplace. Her LinkedIn profile shares her love for technology and an invitation for women to “…follow me on this journey to imagine what’s next.”
These empowered leaders are the guiding light for future women working in the technology industry. The presence of women in C-level positions has undergone substantial growth, and although the margins are low now, leaders such as Rometty, Whitman and Warrior are encouraging girls and young women to enter a field that they might have once never considered. Along with these inspirational role models, large companies in the technology industry are pushing to hire women in these historically male-dominated roles, ultimately transforming the landscape of the field.
I invite you to explore the variety of organizations and groups that actively support both girls and women to reach their career goals in IT. Here are a few of my many favorite organizations:
- Girls Who Code – Opportunities for girls and young women to enhance their computing skills and move toward a career in computer science.
- Women in Technology International – Support for professional women in the technology field.
- Made with Code – Recently launched, provides resources and tools for all kids to try their hand with coding basics.
- National Center for Women & Information Technology – Resources, programs and research for women of all ages to expand their knowledge base of the technology field.