Culture and Society

What's it like for women working in the male-dominated tech industry?
Answered by Vida Ilderem, Lori Matassa and 2 others
  • Vida Ilderem

    Vida Ilderem

  • Lori Matassa

    Lori Matassa

  • Caterina Fake

    Caterina Fake

  •  Marissa Mayer

    Marissa Mayer

  1. Vida Ilderem Vice President, Intel Labs


    I've always liked challenges. I'll say that. It's you have to work harder because you still have to prove you are here because you're good. Actually, before I was an electrical engineer, I was a physicist, so I have my degrees, of course, in physics and electrical engineering. And most often I was the only girl in the class. It has its advantages and disadvantages. But you work hard. You do work hard.

    More answers from Vida Ilderem »

  2. Lori Matassa Platform Software Architect, Intel


    It's been great, you know? My first 18 years was at another company, and my last 15 years have been at Intel, but I have to say, being a female, engineering is not the only male-dominated, I guess, thing that I've been involved with in my life. I've always been into -- I'm a motorhead. I've been into cars. I've raced motorcycles. That's my early history; it's motocross and desert racing. And just from that, I got the curiosity of, "How does the engine work?" And I needed to learn, because you can't pay a mechanic all the time. You have to be able to take it apart and fix it yourself. And I guess from early on, taking apart that alarm clock, and working on farms, and helping the farmers with their tractors during the downtime of the winter seasons -- I always had my hands dirty, and it gave me the, I guess, confidence.

    I never looked at myself as, like, "Oh, I'm a female. I shouldn't be doing that." And I was never told I couldn't. My parents allowed me to -- you know, they were cautious, but they allowed me to experiment and just do what I felt like doing. So, by that, I built confidence, got into these other roles, and by the time I got into engineering -- which I guess was just about by accident, but it seemed natural -- it didn't seem weird to me. I felt like just one of the others. But I do have to say I did get some benefits, I think, because, you know, it's all about how you interact with people. It's all about relationships, and it's the same even with devices. It's all about relationships of devices to each other. But I appreciated the guys who were my seniors and knew more than me, and I got help from them, you know? They were willing to answer my questions and I learned. And once coming to Intel, now, I had some expertise that I could share with others. But I noticed that I when I came to Intel, it's more diversified. It's a larger company. It's more diversified, between sexes and nationalities as well. So, I don't look at myself as a female in a male's world. I kind of look at it like, "I'm an engineer; so are you."

    More answers from Lori Matassa »

  3. Caterina Fake Entrepreneur, Co-Founder, Hunch and Flickr


    I have always been a woman in technology, very much in the minority, as we all are. I do remember when I got my first job in the Internet, and the guy interviewing me asked me, "So how would you feel if it was you and 20 guys all working together?" I said, "Well, I hope you're working on rectifying that because, it doesn't sound like a healthy culture or a healthy community, to me."

    Part of why I do what I do -- part of the community-building and humanizing technology work that needs to be done. People will stereotype and say, "That's a very female way of going about, approaching product design and technology." Maybe yes. Maybe no. But I've always felt as if my role was to be that person -- to be mindful of the humanity in the technology.

    More answers from Caterina Fake »

  4. Marissa Mayer President and Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors, Yahoo!


    Well, I think that I was drawn to Google because I was very curious. I had done a lot in artificial intelligence, and I saw being able to improve search as a way for me to be able to apply my Master's. I really felt that there was something pragmatic about going there, that I would actually learn more.

    In the end, I think what convinced me to go to Google was I felt that I would learn more there, even if we failed. Most start-ups fail. I knew there was a good chance that Google would fail. But I knew that I would learn more there, even if we failed, than I would other places succeeding. And I think that learning is incredibly important.

    I think the other thing that it says to be the first woman engineer is it's a big tribute to Larry and Sergey. They really felt that they would build a better company if their workforce -- in particular, their technical workforce -- was balanced in terms of men and women. They hired me as the first woman engineer, and then they were like, "OK. How do we find more women? How do we build a workplace that's really good for technical women?"

    We had a lot of insights along the way that I think, to this day, aren't very obvious. In fact, in the beginning, we put a lot of emphasis on interviewing women, and we found a lot of great women in Google engineers that are all just phenomenal, and that was wonderful.

    But then we realized about six months in that not only should we be hiring technical women, we should be hiring men who are really great to work alongside of, men who are going to be really respectful of a woman, a technical woman's view and really inclusive of that. So we started doing things like putting a woman on every interview slate because we wanted to make sure that we were hiring people and building a workplace, particularly on the technical side, that was going to be very respectful and inclusive of women's views.

    More answers from Marissa Mayer »

Still Curious?
  • What does your Social Security number mean?

    Answered by Science Channel

  • How important is presentation in cooking?

    Answered by Tom Colicchio and Charlie Trotter

  • How are maquettes used in 3-D animation?

    Answered by Science Channel


What are you curious about?

Image Gallery