There’s an awful lot of hand wringing in the Valley over how few women are becoming engineers, particularly software engineers.Less than 12 per cent of computer science degrees earned in 2010-11 were awarded to women.
But here’s the crazy thing. For those who do enter the field, the sky’s the limit. There’s ample opportunity to become a big power player, at big companies and at hot startups.
Linda Cureton has the coolest job. She's the CIO for NASA. And NASA has all the coolest technology in the world from the fastest computer networks to a bunch of stuff used to conduct experiments in outer space.
Before she landed at NASA she was a top technologist at other government agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Department of Energy; and the Department of Justice.
Mayer was employee No. 20 at Google and the company's first female engineer. She helped Google develop its search technologies and worked on a long list of other key products including images, maps, books, news, and the toolbar.
She also sits on the board of directors of Walmart.
At Box, Kimber Lockhart leads the web application engineering team that builds most new features on Box. For instance, Lockhart was responsible for a major redesign and rebuild of the Box user interface.
Prior to Box, Kimber was co-founder and CEO of cloud computing startup Increo Solutions where she led the creation of a collaboration service called Backboard. She joined Box when it acquired Increo in 2009.
Diane Greene co-founded VMware--one of the most powerful enterprise companies around. She took it public in 2007 but then left the company in 2008. Greene was under the radar for a few years, but she's surfaced again as a major player in tech.
She's an advisor to startups and sometimes an angel, including investments in Nicira, a startup that VMware just bought in July for $1.26 billion, and hot Hadoop startup Cloudera.
Earlier this year, she became one of Google's board of directors. We also named Diane Greene as one of the 50 Most Powerful People In Enterprise Computing.
Lauren States is responsible for IBM's uber important cloud computing strategy which includes things like its Smarter Planet initiative and business analytics. She's a long time IBMer who joined as a systems engineer right after college in the late 1990s.
She worked just about every job possible at IBM, from executive assistant, to technical sales in the software group. She also launched one of IBM's internal leadership development programs.
Chances are you've seen her, too. She stars in one of IBM's most-played Smarter Planet TV commercials.
Marianna Tessel runs a big engineering group at VMware. She oversees a team of more than 200 people who work on the technology needs of VMware's 2,000+ partners. Marianna holds several patents, too.
Jen Fitzpatrick is one of Google's earliest employees. She joined the company in 1999 where she first worked on refining the quality of Google search results.
She's also worked on Google's user interface, its Web Directory search service, Google Maps and lots of other projects. She's currently working on Google's geo-loco mobile tech, which adjusts the info and ads Google presents based on a person's location. This was the same area that Marissa Meyer worked before she moved to Yahoo.
Padmasree Warrior joined Cisco in 2007 and has had a spectacular career so far. In June, she became the company's chief strategy officer, while still holding on to her tech roots and keeping the CTO title.
She was previously co-leader of engineering with Pankaj Patel and before that she was a senior VP of Cisco's Enterprise, Commercial and Small Business group.
Warrior joined Cisco in 2007. She was the Chief Technology Officer at Motorola. She's received an armful of awards and accolades so far in her career, and in 2007, was inducted into the Women in Information Technology International Hall of Fame.
Laura Mather, Ph.D. is a recognised expert in combating Internet fraud and co-founder of Silver Tail Systems. Silver Tail is a computer security startup founded in 2008 that makes anti-fraud systems used by banks and e-commerce sites.
She is also the Managing Director of Operational Policy for the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a non-profit dedicated to fighting email-based security threats known as phishing, pharming and spoofing.
Ruchi Sanghvi landed at Dropbox after it bought her startup, Cove, in February. Cove was working on a collaboration product.
Sanghvi was Facebook's first female engineer. She led product management for Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect, among other projects.
Cynthia Maxwell, PhD, is the lead apps engineer for Pinterest and has a decade of work experience from Apple to NASA.
She was among the first 15 people hired at Pinterest and so has really helped shape everything about that site, a mega-popular social network. Maxwell is also well-known for the six years she spent at Apple where she worked on things like the iPhone's audio system and Mac OS.
During her four years at NASA she created a virtual environment for astronaut training, tele-medicine, and surgical planning. How's that for impressive?
Tracy Chou made news when she joined Pinterest late last year. She was one of those star, sought-after college students who did internships at Facebook AND Google.
Pinterest, a social networking site popular with women, is also becoming known in the industry as a great place for women engineers. So far it's nabbed them from Apple, Quora, Google, YouTube, Bing/Powerset, and LinkedIn.
Rebecca Jacoby is another top Cisco executive with dual tech roles at the company. She's the CIO and she is Senior Vice President of the IT and Cloud & Systems Management Technology Group at Cisco.
So she has two areas of responsibility. She runs Cisco's internal IT department and she leads the strategy for how Cisco should offer cloud technology to its customers. Cloud is a huge thing for Cisco's customers, so this is an extremely visible and important role.
Another cool thing about Jacoby is that she's been with Cisco since 1995 and worked her way up the ranks into these executive roles.
Selina Tobaccowala is leading the engineering team at popular survey site, SurveyMonkey. She is well-known for founding Evite.com, which was sold to Ticketmaster for an undisclosed sum.
Cisco's female engineering talent runs deep. Another woman running a critical business for Cisco is Geetha Dabir. She's the vice president and general manager of Cisco's Safety and Security Business Unit. That's the unit that produces devices for physical security of buildings, like video cameras.
Paula Long is the CEO and co-founder of stealth startup DataGravity but she's better known as the co-founder of EqualLogic, a storage company acquired by Dell in 2007 for $1.4 billion.
She worked at Dell for a couple of years after the acquisition but then she jumped to take on the role of vice president of product development at Heartland Robotics. Heartland makes industrial robots used in manufacturing.
Long is a board member for online storage service SugarSync, and she's known to be an advisor for several other storage startups, too.
DataGravity is also a storage startup, recently named by VCs as one of the 25 hottest enterprise startups to watch.
Wang leads the engineering team at Minted, a startup that crowd sources designs for printed paper products like wedding invitations and personal stationary.
She came to Minted with 11 years of experience leading engineering teams at Google and Microsoft, on projects like Desktop Search (for which she won a Google Founder's Award), Gmail, Google Lively, and Microsoft Flight Simulator. Niniane also has 33 patents to her name.
Mary Ann Davidson is the Chief Security Officer at Oracle which means she's responsible for making sure that Oracle's products don't have big security flaws.
She's also the public face for Oracle in various security tech circles, like serving on the boards of various groups including the prestigious Information Systems Security Association (ISSA). She was recently named to the ISSA Hall of Fame.
Jayshree Ullal is CEO of Arista Networks which competes with Cisco with its super fast Ethernet switches used in cloud-computing data centres.
When she became CEO of Arista, it caused a stir in the network industry because she was a senior vice president at Cisco responsible for its uber important Data centre, Switching and Services group. That was a $10 billion in annual revenue group under her command, responsible for Cisco's most important products like its flagship Nexus 7000 switch and its popular Catalyst 4500 and 6500 switches.
Jennifer Chayes is a distinguished scientist at Microsoft. She co-founded Microsoft's New England facility in Cambridge.
Before launching the Cambridge facility, she was a leader at Microsoft's Redmond Research group where she worked on mathematics, theoretical computer science and cryptography. And for many years before that, she was a professor of Mathematics at UCLA.
She has co-authored some 110 scientific papers and has more than 25 patents.
Chayes serves on a gi-normous list of boards including the Turing Award Selection Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, and Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology. She's a past vice-president of the American Mathematical Society.
Earlier this year Chayes received the Anita Borg Institute's Leadership Award, which honours powerful women in technology fields.
As the Chief Scientist at Bitly, Hilary Mason studies the realtime Internet doing a mix of research and engineering.
As a native New Yorker, she's also known as a star in New York's tech scene, who sits on the mayor's tech advisory council. She co-founded HackNY, a non-profit that helps talented engineering students find their way into the startup community of creative technologists in New York City. She's an advisor to a bunch of organisations, too, including TechStars New York.
Mason has an armload of accolades to her credit including the TechFellows Engineering Leadership award.
Diane Bryant is Intel's former CIO. In January she was handed responsibility for an important business unit at Intel, the Datacenter and Connected Systems Group.
This worldwide unit generated over $10 billion in revenue for Intel in 2011, covering Intel's products in enterprise computing and cloud tech.
Stormy Peters cut her teeth at HP, teaching them about open source. She then helped build startup OpenLogic's contributor community and moved on to a high-profile role running the GNOME Foundation. GNOME is a key project for Linux.
Peters is also an advisor for various big open source conferences, and is founder and president of the non-profit Kids on Computers, which builds computer labs for schools in underprivileged neighborhoods.
Yvonne Schneider leads a global team that creates technology used by American Express customers.
She is particularly focused on the tech that runs corporate payments, global business travel businesses, and HR. She's been in the tech field for more than 25 years, first cutting her teeth in the energy industry working on mainframes.
Yvonne is also a known for her many years contributing to the Houston Food Bank.
Nora Denzel is Intuit's senior vice president leading the company's big data and social design initiatives, an important area of growth for the financial services software maker.
She also serves on the boards of the San Diego-based Overland Storage and the Anita Borg Institute.