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Women in Tech and More from the Bloomberg Technology Conference

I had the honor and pleasure of speaking twice at last week’s Bloomberg Technology Conference in SF. This year’s theme, Code in the Corner Office, focused on how technology and big data have fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and consume information.
Clara Shih Bloomberg Technology Conference
In my afternoon session, “Women Coders Speak Out,” my Stanford classmate Tracy Chou (@triketora), now an engineering lead at Pinterest, and I had an interesting discussion with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang (@emilychangtv). Tracy has played a pivotal role in getting tech companies to measure and publicly share diversity numbers, such as Google beginning to track what percentage of their tech teams are female. We talked about how the next step is to go from transparency to commitment.

We also discussed the “pipeline problem.” In recent dialogue about women in tech, the pipeline problem has often been dismissed as merely an excuse for why diversity numbers aren’t higher, but the problem is real. Encouraging girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum at a young age and continuing to foster their interest and success in STEM throughout their studies and careers are essential to addressing the pipeline problem.
I’m proud that at Stanford, the number of female students majoring in computer science is now larger than sum total of computer science majors in 2008, thanks to concerted efforts by faculty there including Mehran Sahami, Eric Roberts, and department chair Alex Aiken (who by the way was one of the toughest professors I had when I was an undergrad!). Additionally, more than 40 percent of students who take CS106A, Stanford’s introduction to computer science course, is female. Not yet 50/50, but we are making progress.
Clara breakfast photo_bloombergEarlier in the day, I also hosted a more informal, intimate breakfast session about women in tech alongside Caroline Dowling (@carolineeire), president of Flextronics; Desiree Matel-Anderson, chief wrangler of the Field Innovation Team (@FITreadytogo); and Jana Rich, the all-star tech executive recruiter. We spoke candidly about our own personal experiences – some that are now humorous in hindsight, all with lessons learned – about being awoman in a male-dominated world. (One such anecdote: Being misidentified as a hospitality staffer at an event where all the fellow invited executives were men.) It was wonderful to sit down with a group of women and men who are clearly passionate about bridging the gender divide within their own companies and to hear their stories.
My other favorite talks of the day were with Dick Costolo, outgoing CEO of Twitter (@dickc), Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! (@marissamayer), and Chris Wanstrath, founder and CEO of Github (@defunkt). Dick’s session was especially interesting because he was CEO at the time he accepted Bloomberg’s speaking invitation and was slated to talk on stage about the future of Twitter, but in the days leading up to the conference announced his resignation.
My team and I were thrilled to see predictive analytics as a recurring theme throughout the day, specifically how data is being used to modernize huge, complex industries such as retail and healthcare. This is precisely what we’re doing at Hearsay Social: helping to usher financial services – which represent approximately $1.25 trillion in gross domestic product in the U.S. alone – into the digital world by providing advisors with data-driven insights to be more efficient and relevant in their outreach. Thanks to the Bloomberg team for a fantastic event and for bringing together such a great group of people to share ideas, foster conversation and inspire the tech community in Silicon Valley and beyond.

To see more examples of how out-of-the-box thinking from tech startups is disrupting financial services, insurance, healthcare, and more, read my recap of Hearsay Social’s recent 2015 Social Business Innovation Summit.
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Tech titans Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, and Clara Shih participating in's "Hour of Code"

Thanks to the video from this week showing an 8th grader teaching President Barack Obama how to write his first line of code, you might have heard of the Hour of Code. This is just the latest in a long line of initiatives spearheaded by, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.
As part of this week’s “Hour of Code” event, I’m honored to say that Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih will be joining tech titans Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, and others in 15-minute video Q&As with 100 classrooms across the United States, including Pawcatuck Middle School in Stonington, CT, Birchwood Intermediate School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, St Francis High School in Traverse City, MI, Cooper High School in Union, KY, Concord High School in Staten Island, NY, Perry-Lecompton Middle School in Perry, KS, and Houck Middle School in Salem, OR.
Watch Clara and her fellow thought leaders in the webchat at the bottom of the post. And here are some thoughts Clara will be sharing:

If an 8th grade girl thinks she might be interested in computer science, where would you tell her to start?

It’d be the same for girl or boy:

  1. Make sure you have a strong math, science, and general academic foundation.
  2. Start coding. It’s easy to start with Web programming and HTML.
  3. Attend summer camp, which is valuable even if you don’t end up doing computer science, which is becoming as foundational in life as reading or writing.

I am a girl and a nerd who is interested in computer programming. Who inspired you and were any of these mentors female?

  • Ada Lovelace (one of the world’s first computer programmers)
  • Grace Hopper (invented the first compiler for a computer programming language)
  • Anita Borg (computer scientist who developed the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology)
  • Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo! and Google’s first female engineer)
  • Bill Gates (co-founder and former CEO and chairman of Microsoft).

What would you consider “key” decisions you made or crossroads you encountered to get to where you are today?

Think entrepreneurially. The best jobs of 10 years ago aren’t the best jobs of today or certainly 10 years from now. The most important thing you can do is build a solid foundation, learn how to think for yourself, and then be opportunistic.
In your opinion, what is the most influential social media platform out there today and why?

Social media has become so widespread that it’s basically impossible to answer that question, like answering what’s the most influential Web app. There are too many. Social has come to occupy different parts of our lives, from professional to family and friends to romantic to quick messaging utility. Aside from the obvious big three, Pinterest, Instagram, and WhatsApp are also very interesting to me.
As new social media platforms pop up everyday, how does Hearsay Social stay on top of trends and change accordingly?

We download and try everything. It helps to be based in Silicon Valley, because we live and breathe technology here.

Powerful women in the boardroom: Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih and other leaders speak at Fortune's inaugural Next Gen conference

What an an honor it was seeing our CEO Clara Shih take the stage at this week’s inaugural Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference, a meeting of esteemed women leaders across business, government, the arts and other sectors.

Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih at Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit Next Gen
From left to right: Fortune Senior Editor at Large Pattie Sellers, former Microsoft executive Gerri Elliott, Flickr founder Caterina Fake and Hearsay Social CEO and founder Clara Shih.

In a unique session focused on women board members, Pattie Sellers (Senior Editor at Large at Fortune and Co-founder of Fortune MPW, @pattiesellers) spoke with Gerri Elliott (board member of Whirlpool, Bed Bath and Beyond and Charlotte Russe, @gerri_elliott), Caterina Fake (Chairman of the Board of Etsy and board director of Creative Commons, @Caterina), and Clara Shih (board member of Starbucks and Hearsay Social, @clarashih).

Each shared her unique journey to the boardroom and the individual challenges they had to overcome to get there. Of course, earning a seat in the boardroom is not the end of the journey–it’s the beginning.

To hear unique insights from Gerri, Caterina, and Clara, watch a video of the session and see some tweets below, and then check out Fortune’s piece on How to land a coveted corporate board seat.


Julia Hartz, Sallie Krawcheck, Clara Shih and other women leaders convening at the inaugural Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen

Next week, women leaders from across business, government, the arts and other sectors will assemble in San Francisco for the inaugural Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference.
The two-day event is the latest iteration in a series of live events hosted by Fortune that puts the spotlight on accomplished women leaders in a myriad of different industries around the world.
This year’s event will feature a host of great speakers, including Julia Hartz (Co-Founder and President of, @juliahartz), Sallie Krawcheck (Chair of Ellevate Network and Ellevate Asset Management, former CEO at Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney, @SallieKrawcheck), Clara Shih (CEO and founder, Hearsay Social, @clarashih), among many others:
Fortune MPW Next Gen 2014 speakers
At 9:30 AM on Wednesday, December 3rd, Clara will join Gerri Elliott (Director, Whirlpool, Bed Bath & Beyond, Charlotte Russe, @gerri_elliott), Caterina Fake (Founder and CEO, Findery, @Caterina), and Pattie Sellers (Senior Editor at Large at Fortune and Co-founder of Fortune MPW, @pattiesellers) on stage at the conference to discuss strategies for landing the “right” board seats for your career.
To learn more, watch CNBC reporter Julia Boorstin (@jboorstin) interview Clara at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA last month, and explore the posts below all about financial services, technology innovation, and women in business.