CNET : Internet : Guidebook


By Jay Chong
December 17, 1999

Carly Fiorina's appointment as CEO in the world's second-largest computer company in July is an indication that women are beginning to seriously dot the male-dominated high-tech landscape.

Reaching the No.1 post at Hewlett-Packard Co is all the more significant as Fiorina, 44, had topped Fortune's ranking of the "50 Most Powerful Women in American Business" for two consecutive years.

Perhaps, even more telling in Fiorina's case is that the only other person tipped to take over the reins at HP, prior to her being named, was another woman, Ann Livermore, the CEO of the computing division at HP.

Women have been holding high positions in the IT industry in the last decade. Yet their presence has not changed long-time perceptions as it is beginning to now, as more women make their mark in technology and Internet-based environments.

Although Fiorina's position shows that women are coming into their own, the journey for the majority has only just begun.

A recent survey released by New York-based women's research group, Catalyst, said that although more women are making it to the top corporate positions, they are still under-represented in positions that lead to such promotions.

In Asia, the under-representation is no less pronounced.

Intel Technology (M) Sdn Bhd's country manager Yohani Yusof agreed that the number of women holding top posts in the IT industry is smaller compared to their male counterparts. "I think that it is because IT is engineering- and technical-focused, which is traditionally a male domain. And women in this arena have had to struggle every step of the way," she told CNET Asia.

But she added that the playing field is changing as more women are entering high-tech industries with the onset of the Internet. "More women are also populating financial and management roles in such organizations."

One survey by online research house Media Metrix showed that women comprise half of Internet users in the U.S. since January, a rapid rise from a mere 18 percent in 1996.


Jay Chong is a technology journalist with nine years' experience who hopes her kids have a life beyond the digital screen. Email us your comments.


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