I had the wonderful opportunity to see and hear Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Lead On Silicon Valley Conference for Women.
In her 30-minute keynote Hillary Clinton addressed the gender gap in the tech industry specifically. Quoting a number of statistics showing that women are still not making it to the board room and lamenting the pay gap, she also addressed the cultural challenges for women in the tech industry, comparing companies in Silicon Valley with the Wild West and a locker room mentality.
Her key point was that including women is not just a “nice” thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. “Where women are included, you’re more likely to have democracy; you’re more likely to have stability and prosperity.”
She stressed that the gender debate needs to include men. Men and women need to be part of the change. She urged women to look out for each other, lend a helping hand and kindness to each other, ending with a quote from former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, “there is a special spot in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
In the interview with Kara Swisher that followed her keynote, the discussion turned to politics and whether Hillary Clinton would be running for president and finally announcing her long awaited candidacy. Ever the political professional, Hillary Clinton didn’t reveal her intentions, but made clear that stopping partisan gridlock is a priority and bringing people from both sides of the table into a “warm purple space” where people talk and actually solve problems.
Probably the most quoted part of the interview was her urge to us women in the audience to move the change and women’s progress forward – with a mischievous pun on her possible candidacy. “You don’t have to be bold or run for office, although if you do, the more power to you.”
I feel privileged having grown up as a women in a time surrounded by powerful and soulful women like my mom, Madonna, Hillary Clinton, Oprah. (My mom probably never guessed she would be mentioned in a sentence with Madonna, Oprah and Hillary Clinton…). You may not always agree on their style or politics, but all of them have shown and taught us that with determination you can overcome obstacles and make your mark on this world. So I fell very privileged that I have the opportunity to learn from all of them. I just hope that I can make my mark by offering a hand and being supportive to women (and men) around me.
The Huffington Post has a great article on Hillary Clinton’s keynote at the Lead On Silicon Valley Conference for Women.