When Susan Wojcicki was named CEO of YouTube in 2014, she was in comparatively good firm as a lady chief in Silicon Valley.
Marissa Mayer, her former colleague at Google, was working Yahoo and posing for journal covers. Sheryl Sandberg was the influential second-in-command at Fb who had simply printed a best-selling e-book on company feminism. Former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was on the helm of HP, and Ginni Rometty was the primary lady in control of IBM.
Wojcicki’s announcement final week that she is stepping down from her management position at YouTube marks the top of an period. The tech trade has now misplaced a complete technology of trailblazing ladies leaders and changed them largely with males.
“It’s nearly like now we have to begin from scratch,” stated Sheryl Daija, the founding father of Bridge, an advocacy group comprised of dozens of variety, fairness, and inclusion enterprise leaders.
The tech sector has lengthy lagged different industries in terms of the illustration of girls in management roles. And within the wake of the pandemic, ladies leaders in company America extra broadly are extra probably than ever to stop, in response to the latest Ladies within the Office report from McKinsey & Firm and LeanIn.Org. Simply days earlier than Wojcicki’s announcement, Meta’s chief enterprise officer, Marne Levine, additionally stated she could be leaving after a 13-year run on the firm.
Not one of the Large 5 US tech corporations — Alphabet, Apple, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft — have ever had a lady CEO, and Wojcicki’s chief government title at Alphabet-subsidiary YouTube maybe put her the closest. Now that she’s departing, Large Tech is dealing with a brand new reckoning over its failure to advertise and assist ladies leaders, and what this might imply for the following technology of girls within the trade.
As a lady in Silicon Valley, “It’s truthful to say it’s important to combat somewhat more durable,” stated Sima Sistani, the co-founder and former CEO of the app Houseparty, who held management roles at Epic Video games, Yahoo and Tumblr earlier than turning into CEO of WeightWatchers final 12 months.
“Having a community of different ladies was important to my success,” Sistani stated. “And I give quite a lot of credit score to the ladies who helped assist and in addition blaze the path ahead.”
Sistani isn’t alone in preventing the uphill battle ladies in tech face. Silicon Valley has lengthy taken warmth for its male-dominated “bro-culture.”
Francoise Brougher, the previous chief working officer of Pinterest, sued the social media platform for gender discrimination and retaliation in 2020, arguing in courtroom paperwork that she was fired after reporting “demeaning sexist feedback” in the direction of her from one other firm government. Pinterest settled the lawsuit later that 12 months, however the authorized battle was seen as one more instance in a string of incidents highlighting how even probably the most highly effective ladies in tech are handled.
There are nonetheless a handful of, albeit lesser-known, ladies within the higher echelon of tech, together with Meta CFO Susan Li, Oracle CEO Safra Catz, and Lisa Su, CEO of chipmaker AMD. In the meantime, some well-known ladies in tech, comparable to Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former head of authorized, coverage and belief, have develop into targets of vicious on-line harassment campaigns.
Laura Kray, a professor of management on the College of California, Berkeley, stated that with Wojcicki’s exit from YouTube, “it’s arduous to learn the most recent departure of a high-profile lady chief as something however extra proof that the tech sector has not realized its said aspirations for creating inclusive cultures which might be capable of entice and retain high expertise.”
Now on the helm of WeightWatchers, Sistani brings her digital experience to the corporate, in addition to her expertise as a lady chief within the office. Late final 12 months, Sistani, a mom of two, expanded WeightWatchers’ paid parental depart coverage, a transfer she seen as essential for driving equitable alternatives for all dad and mom on the firm.
Kray, who can also be the director of Berkeley’s Middle for Fairness, Gender and Management, stated that having ladies in high management positions is essential because it offers entry-level ladies position fashions and mentorship alternatives “from leaders who could have confronted related challenges as they rose by way of the ranks.”
This illustration on the very high is important for girls in center administration, the purpose at which ladies are inclined to see their increased profession aspirations realized or thwarted. “With out ladies within the C-suite who’ve come earlier than them, it may make this transition interval harder for subsequent technology ladies leaders,” Kray stated.
Daija, of the Bridge group, added that one lesson from this exodus of high-profile ladies tech leaders is the significance of succession planning, to make sure that when a lady CEO steps down there are different ladies able to construct on their progress. “When the roles are changed with the identical illustration that we have already got, we don’t maintain dropping floor, we preserve, and we construct,” she stated.
Wojcicki can be succeeded by Neal Mohan, a 15-year Google vet who was most just lately the chief product officer at YouTube.
Whereas Sistani stated it will possibly really feel like “we’ve taken a step again” with so many high-profile ladies in tech stepping apart, she added, “I feel that it’s necessary for us to additionally search for the locations the place issues are working.”
She pointed to the truth that ladies CEOs now run greater than 10% of Fortune 500 corporations for the primary time in historical past.
“As an alternative of getting discouraged in these moments, we will take into consideration what an amazing instance somebody like Susan [Wojcicki] is setting,” Sistani added. “I feel that what she achieved and what she modeled can be one thing that can stay on past the truth that now we don’t have a feminine Large Tech CEO.”