Here at IOD, we love all the tech leaders we’ve met over the years—at AWS re:Invent, other industry gatherings, and online. But we’re honestly troubled by how few of them are women.
Female business leaders have always been an endangered species—and that’s even more true in technology fields. In 1994, the U.S.’s Federal Glass Ceiling Commission reported that 95–97% of CEOs were men. Among the Stanford Business School grads surveyed for that report, 16% of the male grads were CEOs, compared to only 2% of the women.
Meanwhile, in the high-tech world, a 2001 report claimed that only 25% of tech workers in Europe, and about 20% in the United States, were women. Plus, women’s jobs tended to be rote data-entry-type positions, while men held more analytical and managerial tech jobs. Salary gaps were also common.
But all that’s behind us now, right? Wrong.
Many cheered in 2021, when the Fortune 500 list included 41 female CEOs, or around 8%. However, female CEOs still comprise only about 5% of the S&P Global 500 list. And even more troubling, only 18–19% of people graduating with computer science degrees today are women—even though women are the majority of college grads.
It turns out that girls aren’t coding; geeking out at computer camp; developing, debugging, or launching their own apps; finding software-development internships; or launching startups the way many of their male classmates are.
But it’s not all bad news. While women in tech may still be few in number, they bring with them an energy, dedication, and unique perspective that’s impossible to ignore.
That’s why, in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we’re spotlighting some of the female tech leaders we admire—not just with a single post, but with a whole month of celebration.
Our first interview features Yael Rivkind, VP of Strategy at Twang. Yael comes from a business background and was a founding member of three different tech startups. Let’s see how she’s working to create an open and welcoming workforce across all of Twang’s departments.
Which aspects of your job do you like most?
I was fortunate to play a part in the early days of three different startups, when all we had was an idea. Though it can be stressful and uncertain, it’s truly rewarding to be part of the creation process, shaping the company’s culture, product, and vision for the future.
Can you share some demographics about women at your current company? In what areas/positions would you like to see more female leaders?
We currently employ over 65% women across all departments, including engineering and management. Creating an open, diverse, and inclusive environment has been a priority since the beginning.
How would you define and quantify success for women in tech in 10 years?
Hopefully, we’ll be at a point where these questions will not be asked. 😉
Another great indicator would be the level of funding that goes to female founders and leaders. We can see from newsflows that the market has reacted positively to more women founding companies; now let’s see the funding to match that.
What’s one tip you can offer to women aspiring to work in leadership positions?
Be passionate about what you do. Passion allows you to go above and beyond what is expected of you; it builds confidence and conviction; and, most importantly, it removes the fear of taking risks. The most wonderful things in your professional and personal life will happen when you subject yourself to exposure, whether it’s expressing your emotions, leaping into entrepreneurship, or taking on a business challenge.
We especially admire the way Yael highlighted an important benefit of female leadership: With women in top spots in tech companies, new hires know firsthand that there’s no glass ceiling. Even if they start out in lower level development positions, with leaders like Yael to mentor and guide them, the next generation of female business and technology leaders can break through to the upper echelons. (And, hopefully, convince funders to get on board as well.)
Stay tuned for our next profile, in which Michal Wosk, Marketing VP at Treeverse, reveals her not-so-secret superpower.