Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women

5 impressive female leaders in the tech world give their ceiling-shattering advice.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

Sure, I could kick off this article with all sorts of glum stats about the lack of women in top spots in business in general and in the IT fields in particular. Heck, I’ve been in tech since I was 15, so I know it firsthand. This is the most shocking of the bunch: women hold just 11 percent of the executive positions in Silicon Valley tech companies. Picture all those boardroom table meetings –and all those decisions being made– with only one woman in the room for every nine men. Blech. It’s bleak, I know.

Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women

But it’s getting better.

Want proof? Check out this article from The New Yorker that details the ways the hole in the glass ceiling is getting larger. Yes, there are obvious problems with gender diversity in the tech fields and yes, we have miles to go. But some women have risen to the top and are empowering a new generation of women in the industry with their success.

Not only does gender equality provide diverse ideas, but it also fosters the next generation of female leaders by providing like-minded role models and mentors that are often instrumental to one’s success.

Women need to help women to succeed. And in that spirit, here’s a look at five of the most influential and inspiring women in Silicon Valley; how they got there and their glass ceiling-shattering advice:


Sheryl Sandberg

Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women“I think now is our time. My mother was told by everyone that she had two choices: She could be a nurse or a teacher. The external barriers now are just so much lower. If we start acknowledging what the real issues are, we can solve them. It’s not that hard.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the most vocal and successful advocate in silicon valley (and perhaps the world) for helping women get to leadership positions. Her books Lean In and Lean In for Graduates (which you can listen to via an Audible free trial) are essential reading for any woman in the workforce and/or trying to start a career.

In high school, she taught aerobics and was “always at the top of her class”. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and was awarded the prize for the top graduating student in economics. While at Harvard, she co-founded an organization called Women in Economics and Government. Her then-professor Larry Summers recruited her to be his research assistant at the World Bank, where she worked for approximately one year on health projects in India dealing with leprosy, AIDS, and blindness. She then worked with him while he was serving as Chief of Staff at the Treasury under President Bill Clinton.

After working as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, followed by a long-time stint as an executive at Google, Sandberg joined Facebook as COO in 2009. She currently serves on the board of directors for Starbucks, the Center for Global Development, Walt Disney Studios, V-Day and Women for Women International. As if her resume wasn’t impressive enough, Sandberg also served as the chief of staff for the Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, under President Clinton. With her Facebook stock options, Sandberg is estimated to be worth more than a billion dollars and was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 100 Comments


  2. Lusi Martin

    I strongly believe that the world belongs to those who want to make a difference and gender is no barrier. We have enormously talented women in leadership positions who are rising to the top. These women are making their mark across a diverse range of businesses.

    • Miya Hartford

      I agree. I mean women can run the world right? I mean women are always right. It’s like a superpower; instincts only women have. Like me, I always know. Whether it’d be an incoming sickness, a secret affair, or a hidden agenda, I can tell. Having said so I believe women can be a great asset to a variety of businesses.


    • Victoria Lawson

      Everyone in this world is competitive. If you’re not the type of person that wants to take a big step forward to make a difference, no one will see you.

  3. Jessi Agusta

    There must be no shadow of doubt about how important your goal is to you and how committed and determined you are to achieve it. This initial desire and commitment are what gives you the ammunition to get your goal off the ground. How determined and committed are you to your success? If you always keep yourself in the loop of determination, no glass ceiling can get in your way. If these women aren’t determined and committed, they wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are now.🙂

    • Donna Tate

      I agree with this. Don’t ever let anything get in your way with your dreams. Don’t doubt your capabilities.

  4. Honey Smith

    Women at the workplace need to put out the signals that they’re in the race too. Be vocal about your ambitions and feats. I’ve always been told, “You’re way more talented than any of the other guys at your level. But they’re a lot more well-known. You need to work on your brand.”

    • Maria Wolfe

      I agree with you. Sometimes women silence themselves because they fear that they don’t deserve something they obviously do.

  5. Tricia Soto

    Inspirational women! I want to be successful like them someday. Which is why even if I’m just in high school, I’m trying my best to get straight A’s. I know that in the real world, your grades won’t really matter, but it’s something I want to be proud of. I’m more than just a woman with brains. I take all my dreams seriously and if I’m just as determined as them, I can reach anything. We just have to stay strong in order to break through this glass ceiling or whatever illusion it is.

  6. Anila William

    When I was little, I liked to play football. It never crossed my mind that I could not or should not do it. My father saw nothing wrong with the idea either. Maybe he liked my determination, or maybe he liked the thought of me becoming a “tomboy.” You see, my Daddy has endured living in a house with four women: my mother, two sisters and myself. Then after expecting his first grandchild, what does he get? A granddaughter. Nonetheless, he has withstood the antics and pressures of the estrogen-driven environment he calls home. Once, he told me that a real man does not want a woman he can run all over and tell what to do. I guess I am a prime example because I have almost perfected the skill of not shutting up until I get my point across. Why should women or girls feel inferior to men or boys, anyway? I do not proclaim to be a feminist, but I do know one thing. Even with the many strides, women have made, we still have some more steps to take.

    • Patti Luna

      That’s an interesting story. Thank you for sharing. I hope that there are more people in this world that’s like your dad.

  7. Cristina Joseff

    One thing that women can be judged about is their sensitivity. They think that rational thinking can get in the way of emotional thinking. Let’s face it, we do get hurt easily and men can be cold and heartless when they want to. I’d like to think that us women are soft and can get hurt when the going gets too tough.

  8. Wilma Moore

    I hope no one confuses the glass-ceiling with any other reasons for not getting the promotion. I think good things will always be rewarded. Everyone will be rewarded– and that’s the thing. You have to do more than good in orde to get a better reward. Because someone else can be rewarded better than you were. It’s a competition out there and a few points lagging behind isn’t going to help you achieve the best goal. I know it’s a little harsh and dream crushing for us, but that’s the reality. You can’t be just another fish in the sea.

    • Nancy Smith

      I know, this is the main thing that we also need to understand.

  9. I always advise women to rely on two senses when it comes to gender equality in the workplace: a sense of confidence and a sense of humor. Confidence is imperative for knowing that you can and should resist people’s stereotypes of what you are capable of doing, and actively solicit people who help you question the status quo in that regard (thanks Mom and Dad!).

  10. Evelyn Harris

    Women can be as motivated as men. There are also career-driven women out there that prioritizes career more than anything else.

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