Want to succeed as a woman in Silicon Valley? You’ll fins it the toughest business environment in world.
On the Small Business Radio Show this week, Julian Guthrie dives into stories of women in Silicon Valley. These stories show women successfully navigating interactions with their predominately male colleagues. Guthrie spent twenty years at the San Francisco Chronicle. There she won numerous awards. And she received multiple nominations for the Pulitzer Prize in recognition of her writing.
In her new book, “Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime”, she discusses how female leaders are missing from so many industries. She believes this a result of the pervasive cases of bias between entrepreneurs and mostly male venture capitalists. According to Julian, men tend to invest in people that are like them.
How Women Succeed in Silicon Valley
Despite long odds, Julian discusses how some women in Silicon Valley have succeeded in this male dominated culture. For example, Magdalena Yesil arrived in America from Turkey with $43 and nine gold bracelets. After she earned her electrical engineering degree from Stanford University, she starts work at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). At a sales conference, the night’s entertainment is a striptease performance. Magdalena has the courage to address this with the CEO of the company. She later goes on to help start Salesforce with Marc Benioff.
Julian states that one of the keys to successful women in Silicon Valley is to know when to take issue with a specific male dominated action and when to let it go. She says women need to have a “thick skin” and not approach it in an adversarial way, but be solutions oriented.
In another example, Julian reveals how one woman in an all-male partners’ meeting would read up on sports to have something to talk about. She notes that now men are doing the same thing; becoming current about what women traditionally find interesting.
Finally, Julian discusses why visionary leaders like Steve Jobs are not “very nice” people and why women succeed with a different model!
Listen to the entire episode here.