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Marissa Mayer Discusses Women and the Technologies Field

Google actively recruits women, and while there’s not a released figure on the percent of Google’s population that’s female, it’s recognized that the company exceeds the Silicon Valley standard for female engineers. That standard, 15 to 17 percent by some estimates, show women as the definite minority in the field, but even those figures are higher than they once were. For Google, the path to drawing women to the company started when they hired Marissa Mayer, the first female Googler.

Since she was hired in 1999, Mayer has climbed the ranks, acting in a variety of roles, including the Vice President of Local. Mayer has also made strong efforts to openly discuss the question of why women don’t pursue a career in the technologies field more frequently and how tech companies can appeal to women.

Mayer herself didn’t always want to be a computer scientist, having started at Stanford with the aim of becoming a neurosurgeon. Mayer didn’t become interested in computer sciences until she took a series of courses that discussed psychology, linguistics, computer sciences, and more as the study of how we use symbols.

Mayer states that the biggest problem with drawing women to the technologies field is the image of what a tech specialist looks and behaves like. “The stereotype of that very complete and rigid picture of what being a computer scientist means really hurts people’s understanding and ability to identify with the role and say, ‘Yes, this is something I can be in and want to be in,'” stated Mayer. The solution she suggests is to “show a multiplicity of different role models.”

Additionally, Mayer feels that computer sciences will naturally become more appealing to women, who often prefer to see the practical, everyday impact of their work in people’s lives. As technology expands, so does the direct daily impact of technology work.