Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior is one of the most powerful, high profile people in tech.
But even she found it tough to break into the male-dominated tech industry when she started her career.
“When I took my first job, I was among only a handful of women. It was isolating at times,” Warrior says in a Thursday blog post.
There’s no shortage of jobs these days in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They pay well, too.
What there is a shortage of is women in these jobs.
Cisco is one of the tech companies that’s trying to fix this. Warrior’s boss, Cisco CEO John Chambers, was recognised earlier this week as one of the top 100 STEM-savvy CEOs by an industry organisation called STEMconnector.
However, only 18 of the 100 CEOs recognised were women, and that’s “disappointing,” Warrior says in the blog post.
As Warrior notes, there’s plenty of other data that shows how hard it is for women to break into top-level tech jobs.
According to the National centre for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women account for only 14% of senior management jobs at Silicon Valley startups.
Overall, just 23% of workers in STEM-related jobs are women, according to the National maths + Science Initiative (NMSI).
Warrior’s advice to women is to not get scared away by these figures. In fact, she says women bring new perspectives to problems that men have trouble solving.
“I always tell women to use the fact that we offer a different point of view in a room full of men, to their advantage,” Warrior says in the blog post. “Because we often stand out, we gain a unique platform to demonstrate our knowledge and capabilities.”
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