Entertainment

Leading women in the techie industry are as rare as unicorns

Few women make it to the top of big tech companies, but once there, is their behavior any less fierce than that of men?

One of the most striking things about Elizabeth Holmes, the former founder and CEO of the (now defunct) health technology company Theranos, was her surprisingly deep baritone voice. Alongside her black Steve Jobs-esque turtleneck sweaters and signature red lipstick, the voice is definitely the most unique aspect of Elizabeth Holmes, who was recently indicted by a federal jury for fraud and conspiracy.

Perhaps for this reason, when a television series was announced, The Dropout, based on the life of one of the most controversial women in Silicon Valley and it was revealed that Amanda Seyfried would play the role of the founder of Theranos, many cried out in heaven. Would Seyfried be able to adequately imitate the characteristic voice of Holmes? From viewing the first trailer for the new Hulu series, it can be deduced that yes, Seyfried has effectively recreated the baritone voice of Elizabeth Holmes in a very faithful way.

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Perhaps the artificially masculine voice of Elizabeth Holmes is by no means an exception in a universe, the technological one, dominated by men. “When I wanted to be heard in my work, I had to speak more slowly and in a deeper way. If you speak using very high-pitched tones, people don’t listen to you, “confesses Melissa, who has worked as a senior executive of a large technology company for the last 20 years, in statements to Guardian.

In any case, it is encouraging that televisionwhich for years has ignored women who work in the technology arena in its stories, is finally laying eyes on women who have such a hard time making themselves heard in Silicon Valley.

Beyond The Dropoutwill be released this year on the small screen Doomsday Machinea dramatization of Sheryl Sandberg’s life as COO of Facebook, and super-pumpeda series in which Uma Thurman will play Arianna Huffington and will focus on the battle for power within Uber.

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Both Sandberg and Huffington are known for being extraordinarily ambitious and ruthless women. ButTo what extent are women at the top of the corporate ladder working at big tech companies like this?

“I think what unites all these women and most women in the industry is that they have to be smart and strategic, since they operate in a very tough universe,” says Simone, a former Spotify employee.

If stories with women as protagonists have taken so long to take shape, it is largely because heFemales have been and continue to be an anomaly in the technology industryemphasizes Simone.

For this reason Elizabeth Holmes is for many a “unicorn” twice: because her company, Theranos, surpassed a $1 billion valuation, and because, as a founder, she was once as exotic as the mythological creature with the horn on its forehead.

Are women still an anomie in the “techie” industry?

“I don’t know exactly why there are so few female founders.Simone admits. “But in the technology scene, everything revolves around risk, joining a startup is a risk and perhaps women want more security in their careers,” says Simone in statements to Guardian.

It should also be noted that while men are usually showered with flattery when they display impulsive and bold behavior, in women such behaviors are vituperated.

“In most technology companies, the role of CEO and CFO is assumed by mostly men, while women aspire at best to be heads of operations or responsible for human rights”Simon indicates. It is as if women seem destined to be the only ones to display minimally ethical behavior in “techie” companies.

«The technology industry is still a men’s club»confirms Melissa. After the #MeToo movement, some companies in the “techie” industry seem, however, to be making an effort to assign important roles to women. The problem? That some companies are falling into the jaws of so-called “female-washing.” “I don’t want to suggest that the fact that some women are taking on leadership roles in the tech industry is rooted solely and exclusively in gender. I think, however, that organizations are very aware of what it means to place a woman in leadership positions traditionally occupied by men, ”says Francesca Sobande, professor at Cardiff University.

Few women make it to the top of big tech companies, but once there, is their behavior any less fierce than that of men? “I have witnessed how some women were clearly trying to emulate the behaviors of men in Silicon Valley. I have seen frankly terrible things, ”confesses Therese, who currently works at Meta, the company once known as Facebook.

Nevertheless, in not a few cases, a luminous feminist aura sprouts from the women who reach the top in technology companies. Sheryl Sandberg, the CCO of Facebook, is, in vain, a staunch champion of feminism.

It remains to be seen how the series that we will see come out of the shell in the coming months will combine feminism and the hardness of character that Silicon Valley women are assumed to have. Perhaps one aspect is completely overshadowed by the other because it is clearly a dichotomy to work for companies that are morally corrupt in many ways and that simultaneously oppress and empower women.

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