Women In Technology: The Rise Of The Female CDO

It seems reasonable to feel like women aren’t getting nearly their due when reports show that only about a quarter of computing jobs are held by women today. Even worse, that’s down from a year ago, when it was more than a third. And several media sources reported heavy disappointment when the jury voted in favor of Kleiner Perkins in Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination lawsuit against the venture capital firm calling it “another blow to women in tech.”

So what’s going on? Are women doomed to a shrinking presence in tech? Will we see equal representation of women in engineering and science jobs the way we do in human resources and marketing?

As CEO of a big data startup in Austin, I remain hopeful. I think we have good reason to anticipate a brighter future for women in technology. And I think it’s going to come in part from the growing connection between marketing and technology that I’ve written about here in the past.

The light at the end of the tunnel

The news these days is definitely not all bad. Even in Ellen Pao’s case, some are seeing the highly publicized case as a victory in that it has brought much needed attention to the issue of gender discrimination in technology.

Looking at other recent headlines, USA Today reported that women were a major force at last month’s SXSW Interactive conference here in Austin. And then you hear about the efforts of people like Reshma Saujani, who started Girls Who Code, and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez, who has been a huge advocate of STEM education for girls.

This is really important in a world where low female participation in tech seems to start at a very young age. Fortunately, these organizations are just a few examples of efforts today to make sure the next generation of women has the best possible chance to turn this situation around.

I’m very excited by that news, especially in light of another trend that I think bodes extremely well for the future of women in technology. I’m talking about the increasing importance of digital technology today, and specifically the rise of the Chief Digital Officer, or CDO.

The rise of female CDOs in tech

The Chief Digital Officer is one role where women are outpacing men by two to one, according to a FierceCIO article citing research by Gartner, which also notes that the number of CDOs who are women has been growing dramatically every year. There are certainly some prominent examples, including Rachel Haot, CDO for New York State (and previously the City of New York), who was chosen Chief Digital Officer of the Year in 2014 by the CDO Club. Others include Jessica Federer at Bayer , Linda Avery of the Federal Reserve and Julie Bornstein, who holds the positions of both CMO and CDO of Sephora.

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