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The Unvarnished Truth About Being A Female Leader In Tech

Part of the series “Women, Leadership and Vision” Rachel Mushahwar Most of us have read many articles and statistics about how the tech world remains biased against women in terms of leadership roles, and in roles throughout the ranks, actually.

To answer that question, I caught up this week with Rachel Mushahwar, a Vice President and General Manager at Intel, a global technology leader that’s shaping a data-centric future with the computing and communications technology that’s at the foundation of the world’s innovations.

Here’s what Mushahwar shares: Kathy Caprino: Rachel, you’re a role model for women in the tech sector, rising to a senior position as an Intel vice president.

Mushahwar: People say things to me like, “How do you do it all?” or “You amaze me that you can hold down a high stress job, travel 4 days a week, and raise four kids” and “I cannot be what I cannot see–thank you for role modeling what could be.” If that doesn’t add pressure, I don’t know what does!

My reality is messy: from the triumphs of reaching a work milestone to tears over a missed school event or a canceled dinner date with a friend because my flight home got delayed, again.

It’s tough to answer a tearful child whose entire life is wrapped up in you, or justify the choices we’re making to our friends or partners when we’re wondering if they’re the right ones.

As part of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, Intel and 11 other companies pledged $12M to double the number of U.S. women of color graduating with computing degrees by 2025, the Intel She Will Connect U.S. initiative is giving $1.25 million in grants to help 27 organizations expose middle school girls and their families to STEM, and we’re active in programs to attract and retain women.

20% of non-STEM.) And the stats are worse for women of color: between 2007 and 2015, the number of African-American women in tech dropped 13%, and the number of African-American women managers dropped 23%.

It is our job, as tech leaders, to continue to accelerate women in leadership positions, support each other, and share how hard it is to rise to the top.

The stakes are getting higher as we move into next generation computing so it is also our job to ensure that equality starts at home so that our sons and daughters grow into a workforce that is different than today.

I asked him if he was ever asked the same questions, and he sheepishly said, “Well, no.” We need to continue to push society, schools and the organizations where we work to be aware of these outdated perceptions and biases and strive to change them.

It’s crazy to think our society is still celebrating “first” achievements of women–like the media frenzy over the scientist that photographed the first black hole.

The key to a strong team and company is giving each person the opportunity to focus on their skills, expertise, and what they can contribute so they can become stronger and better.

Without a diversity of voices and perspectives in technology, we run the risk of gender bias in board rooms and gender bias in artificial intelligence with the unintended consequence of errors entering algorithms.


In 1990 the magazine Popular Science quoted Lisa as saying, “In the future we can imagine the computer as a librarian who not only knows where all the information in the library is kept, but has read and understood everything.” She feels partly vindicated, but is still imagining what the future holds.

Amber Mac

A decade ago, we saw our first warning that digital technology might rule us, and not the other way around. In 2007, hardcore Blackberry owners experienced what was quickly coined “phantom vibrations”— pesky little alerts going off in their pockets or purses, even when their devices weren’t anywhere nearby.

In many ways, the digital economy could also rightfully be called the “distraction” economy: according to a 2016 Microsoft report, our average attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds, and that means lost employee productivity for businesses, relationship issues for families, and physical accidents due to loss of concentration.

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