What Sheryl Sandberg’s Exit Reveals About Women’s Progress in Tech


But many of them encountered difficulties steering aging tech companies. Of those women, only Ms. Catz, Ms. Hood and Ms. Porat remain in their roles.

“The snail’s pace of progress for women leaders in Silicon Valley is worse than disappointing,” said Nicole Wong, a deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration and a former Twitter executive. “It makes the commitments that tech leaders made around racial and gender diversity in 2014 look performative.”

In 2017, stories of sexual harassment by powerful men in Silicon Valley became part of the #MeToo movement. That year, a group of female investors created All Raise.

In 2018, California passed a law requiring publicly traded companies to have at least one female board director, leading to scores of women joining corporate boards. (A California judge struck down the law last month; the state has said it will appeal the ruling.) Another new law, passed last year, the Silenced No More Act, provides legal protection for people who speak publicly about discrimination or harassment they experienced at work.

Women in tech have continued speaking out about unfair treatment. In 2020, Ms. Brougher reached a $22.5 million settlement with Pinterest for discrimination and retaliation. A discrimination lawsuit by Emily Kramer, a former chief marketing officer at the financial start-up Carta, is working its way through the courts.

There have been some signs of progress. Over the past five years, Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix, Julie Wainwright of The RealReal, Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway and Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble took the companies they founded public. And following in Ms. Sandberg’s footsteps, female chief operating officers are now more common in tech. They include Ms. Choi at Coinbase, Gwynne Shotwell at SpaceX and Jen Wong at Reddit.

At Meta, Ms. Sandberg hired and promoted women, such as Marne Levine, the chief business officer, and Lori Goler, the head of human resources and hiring. The percentage of women in Meta’s management with titles of director or higher increased to 35 percent in 2021, from 30 percent in 2018, according to the company’s data.

Meta also developed women who now lead other tech companies, including Ms. Simo, who oversaw the main Facebook app before becoming Instacart’s chief executive last year.



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