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At Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit: Leaders optimistic about fixing tech industry's gender disparity

Fortune last week hosted its annual Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA, bringing together leaders across various industries for three days of interviews, panels, and candid conversations about both the evolving business world as well as the influence and role of women in that evolution.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on stage with Michal Lev-Ram, senior writer at Fortune. Photo courtesy of Fortune.

Clara on CNBC -- Oct 2014
Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih interviewed by CNBC live at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.

Attendees at the event included executives, entrepreneurs, and innovators from across the spectrum, including Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway), Gary Cohn (President and COO, Goldman Sachs), Mary Callahan Erdoes (CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset Management), Mary Meeker (Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook), and Debra Sterling (Founder and CEO, GoldieBlox).
The agenda was packed with a wide-ranging set of sessions. On Monday afternoon, attendees heard about how (and how much) leaders should connect on social media. On Tuesday, another discussion addressed the challenges and solutions in motivating and inspiring workers across different generations. The last day featured special talks on philanthropy and entrepreneurship.


One core topic discussed by attendees was that of gender inequality, which still pervades executive and management teams across the Fortune 500 as well as greener sectors, like the technology industry.
Seeking to unpack this very issue, CNBC interviewed several women leaders closely involved in technology, including Rebecca Rhoads (chief information officer at Raytheon), Sonja Hoel Perkins (managing director of Menlo Ventures and founder of Broadway Angels), and our very own Clara Shih (CEO and Founder, Hearsay Social).
In the interview, Clara explains how she is hoping to impact change at Hearsay Social: “We specifically try to recruit women and we are open-minded about women who may not have a programming background.”
Clara also shared her broader perspective that a key way of nurturing a more diverse tech workforce is by making sure girls are confident in their technical skills from a young age. This helps set the stage for later in their lives, so they can be confident when faced with more male-dominated fields, like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
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Creative problem solving and the evolution of STEM education at #FortuneTech

This week Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) had the special privilege of speaking at Fortune Brainstorm TECH, one of the world’s premier technology and innovation events, on the growing demand for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014
Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College) and Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social)

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014
Colin Bodell (CTO, Time Inc.), Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College), Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social), and John Chambers (CEO, Cisco)

Other prominent speakers at the conference included CEOs John Chambers of Cisco, Daniel Ek of Spotify, Aaron Levie of Box, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Jonah Peretti of BuzzFeed, and Kevin Systrom of Instagram, as well as Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Vice Chairman James Lee.
On Tuesday, Clara joined John Chambers (CEO, Cisco) and Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College, @MariaKlawe) to discuss the state of STEM education in a session moderated by Colin Bodell (Chief Technology Officer, Time Inc.). See Fortune’s coverage of the panel here; our key takeaways and full video are below.

The growing demand for STEM education

Maria kicked off the session, describing how Harvey Mudd College transformed its student body from 27% females in engineering and 30% females total to, in the class of 2014, 56% females in engineering and 46% total. And that took just eight years.
Changes implemented by the college to spur that transformation were simple. The college’s recruiting materials showed 50% females, tour guides were 50% female, and today the faculty is 40% female. As Maria explained, “We just made it really clear that being a female engineer, physicist, mathematician, computer scientist—that’s normal.” Not only that, but their courses placed an emphasis on creative problem solving.
“I have yet to meet a young person who doesn’t want to be creative and who doesn’t like problem solving,” said Maria.
It’s an incredible accomplishment for Harvey Mudd but, as Cisco CEO John Chambers explained, there are still many steps until we will see changes like this globally. “K-12 is broken,” he said, and it will require major rethinking of education and identity to fix it.
“When you do a Google image search for ‘computer scientist,’ it’s all white male.” said Clara. “And that’s the societal view of it right now, so there’s an issue of identity.”
Clara spoke to her personal experience as an immigrant and women in the science and math fields. As she argued, parents, teachers, and the students themselves are responsible for cultivating a new, disrupted educational landscape where technology is not something to be intimidated by, but something to embrace.
Watch the full conversation here and see tweets from the session below:


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Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih to speak alongside execs and influencers at Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014

Every summer, Fortune gathers the top thinkers across technology and media at Fortune Brainstorm TECH in Aspen, Colorado to exchange ideas about the future of business. We’re proud to reveal that–for the third year running–Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih will be one of the event’s key speakers.

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At Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2013, from left to right: Clara Shih, CEO and Founder, Hearsay Social; Adam Pisoni, CTO and co-founder, Yammer; Todd Pierce, EVP Operations and Transformation, Salesforce.com; Deep Nishar, SVP Products and UE, LinkedIn; and Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote

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Next week, Clara will be joining an esteemed group of speakers including CEOs John Chambers of Cisco, Daniel Ek of Spotify, Aaron Levie of Box, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Jonah Peretti of BuzzFeed, and Kevin Systrom of Instagram, as well as Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Vice Chairman James Lee.
On Tuesday, July 15 at 9:45 AM, Clara along with John Chambers (CEO, Cisco) and Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College) will take the stage to discuss the state of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The session will be moderated by Colin Bodell (Chief Technology Officer, Time Inc.).

Watch Clara’s session at Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2013 and learn more about technology and innovation:

Calling all girl geeks

I was so excited to be invited back to my alma mater, Stanford University, last month to speak to 50 high school girls who are learning how to code as part of a she++ summer course taught by Professor Steve Cooper.

It’s 2013, and there still aren’t enough schools or programs providing young Americans with an education in the core fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and nowhere are the numbers more stark than with young girls and minorities. There are roughly 14 million unemployed Americans, but there are 3 million STEM jobs sitting vacant, with more being added every day (we have many openings for engineers, developers, and designers at Hearsay Social).

Any way we can, we need to encourage our sisters, daughters, and young girls to take on the challenges of a STEM education and empower them with the self-confidence and self-esteem needed to stick with such rigorous training. She++ is a wonderful organization doing just that with the help of great mentors like Professor Cooper.
I was very impressed by the energy, creativity, and swift learning demonstrated by this remarkable group of young women–congratulations to each and every one of you. Keep up the great work and don’t stop believing in yourself. I hope you start great technology companies someday or come join us at Hearsay Social!