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Career Advice from 5 Powerful Silicon Valley Women

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

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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 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.

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 traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. 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 life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 172 Comments

  1. Men are so annoying in the office. They’re very discriminating against women and would only lean towards other men in helping with bigger projects.

  2. Valerie Fritz

    I’ve been with companies that only looked at men as the only way to boost their company’s income. I had to resign because I knew I was in the wrong place.

  3. Monique Malick

    There are companies who support women no matter what. You just have to find the right company that fits all your ideals. I know that this can be hard because work is work and career is career, but when you’re not in the right place, you won’t bloom because your roots won’t reach deep and you won’t be as strong. Choose the perfect place for you to be “planted”. Women are strong and even back in the days, we’ve always been capable of so many things.

    • Laronda Walker

      Yep, you can’t grow with just any company. It has to be THE company.

  4. Linda Bowman

    Yes! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. It’s one of the reasons why you should DO IT.

  5. Bonnie Bailey

    Women are great beings. We’re very independent and we’re really motivated people.

  6. Louise Summer

    I super adore audible. Anyway, great recos! Definitely going to check them out ASAP.

  7. Jenni Morgan

    Don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes, it’s the risk you take that will take you in higher places!

  8. Roze Carloze

    If you happen to be with a company that doesn’t support women in the upper management, start questioning about where you are.

  9. Jean Eide

    If you want to be as powerful as them, you have no choice but to let go of your fears and just embrace the thrill.😉

  10. Karen Cooper

    In life, you can’t be ready. I also think that if it doesn’t scare you, it won’t help you grow. Life is all about making big decisions and making crazy ones that are out of your comfort zone. If you’re always living by the rules and all you do is do whatever everyone expects you to do, you are being mediocre. You will never stand out and you will never achieve anything beyond your dreams. Not to offend anyone but that’s the truth. We have to do more in order to achieve more.

    • Louise Summer

      I totally agree with you. Getting out of your comfort zone is probably the best thing that you can do.

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