She helped create Gmail, professed her love of Oscar de la Renta in Vogue , and — having just been named the CEO of Yahoo — is one of the highest-ranking women in Silicon Valley. She recently talked to BuzzFeed Shift about gender inequality in her field, how to avoid burnout on the job, and much more.
Mayer speaks at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner in May 2011.
Image by Jemal Countess / Getty Images
When Mayer joined Google in 1999, she was one of the company's first dozen or so employees — and its first female engineer. But rather than wax poetic about what it means to be the Goog's first female employee, Mayer would rather talk about what she actually does.
Now the VP of Location and Local Services, she oversees Google Maps and local search; before that she helped create many products you probably can't imagine life without, like Google Search and Gmail. And despite her reluctance to talk about being a woman in upper management in Silcon Valley, she's well-attuned to the hot topic of why more women aren't working there with her. "We haven't achieved the gender balance that we should," she admits. "But it's still so early."
There's a lot of finger pointing to try and explain why there aren't many women in tech or computer science fields. Some people blame high schools, others say universities aren't discouraging, and others say it's the Silicon Valley attitude that keeps women out of tech. Who or what do you "blame"?
I don't think blame needs to be placed. I think that computer science is a really young, really fast moving field. We haven't achieved the gender balance that we should but it's still so early. I think one of the things that really inspires people to go into an industry or practice in a field is being able to understand its impact. One of the things that studies have shown is that women are concerned with the impact of their work more than men are. They want to know that what they're doing matters to someone. And given that, I think that now that technology, and especially internet technology and mobile technology, touches everyone's lives on a daily basis, I really hope that that will inspire more women to enter the field of technology and make that kind of impact.