Top Women of the Web

So, I was scrolling thru the Tivo menu the other night & I was all excited when I saw "Top Women of the Web" so I hit record & planned to watch it while I stretched out for my bike ride in the morning. I thought, "cool! Grace Hopper, Anita Borg, Mary Ann Davidson, Radia Pearlman...this will be just geeky great!"

Well, let's just say, the "top" Women of the Web were all certainly top heavy, but not necessarily in the cranium. I felt a little stupid myself for not even considering "top" women were bikini girls, but it certainly got me thinking about the Web, women & why we don't celebrate some of these important people more often. Men and women geeks have impacted our world to far greater measure than the media would have us believe.

Geeks of the world, UNITE!! Let's support each other, mentor each other & help our unique perspectives be heard just when our businesses and the planet need our talents the most.

Here are some of the folks that I would like to have seen in \*my\* version of Top Women of the Web (in no particular order & certainly not inclusive) All of them are icons in their own sphere, all of them have helped me smack down that stupid voice inside saying that I can't or shouldn't or won't:

1. Mary Ann Davidson, CSO, Oracle

This lady is one of my personal heroes. She's a holistic thinker. She's a relentless and tireless security advocate. She's been
personally challenged by Larry the Reputedly-Not-So-Nice on many occasions & yet remains steadfastly Oracled. Her ideas about forcing the Universities that supply vendors like Oracle & Sun to train code slingers safe coding practices and systemic information assurance are bang on:

Mary Ann is also a decorated former military officer. When Mary Ann kicks ass, I don't think it's a figure of speech & I wouldn't want to find out.

2. Sheueling Chang-Shantz, Distinguished Engineer in the Sun Microsystems Laboratories. In addition to being a traditional, it ain't done until the engineering is right & the slide show matches the facts kind of gal, Sheueling is one of the most approachable and ego- free individuals I have encountered.

When you have contributed as much as she has to putting big security in tight corners (amongst other stuff), you deserve to act like a prima diva and a strut a little. Instead, Dr Chang lets her achievements speak for themselves and her warmth invite dialog. I'm a huge fan of both brain & style.

3. Deb Reiman is a woman with whom I recently became acquainted. She manages an investment fund, was a former CEO for Check Point and sits on a number of public company boards. She's one of the business rock stars of the Web age and has been involved in shoring up the defenses of the brick & mortar companies as well as the newbies.

She was kind enough to sit down to breakfast with me one morning-- I wanted to discuss 'selling' data protection at the board level with a serial board member. We fell to chatting about life & work & she inadvertently helped me finally put to rest the 'am I being a good mother with tiny kids by staying with Sun and following my passion'? Answer: YES.

My kids need a safer world to live in. They deserve respect on-line and data integrity. I believe that every human has unique things to bring to the table. I can bring those things to work \*and\* remain close to my girls' hearts. It's a lot of work, but if Deb can do it & have a wonderful relationship with her uber successful kids, I can try & I will keep trying. Thanks Dr. Reiman. You were there when I needed you most & you were only a stranger until that day.

4. Lin Lee. Okay, cheap shot because she's actually my boss. But, before she was tapped to be the top honcho in my chain of command, she was already a trusted friend and ally.

Lin has Vision. Lin can take the worlds of engineering, politics, cultural differences and management styles, mush them all together, clearly articulate them & make it all feel like your idea. She is the rare boss who tells us to think Bigger, instead of the usual mantra of "calm down" "we've always done it this way & making waves won't help" or "stop dreaming about the impossible".

We need more Lins. Big ideas, and lots of support & freedom to chime in with more ideas. That's gender neutral cool. (We also need a better picture for her-- she's an uber babe & this picture of her stinks.)

5. Lile Deinard, IP lawyer & provider of couch, friendship and inspiration.
I had $50.00 to my name, a BS degree and no clue. Lile Deinard was already a partner in a prestigious New York law firm, a mother of 2 grown children and a friend. Here's what she said,"Michelle, every young girl must live in New York for some period of time. It's a place where the impossible doesn't even merit a turn of the head on the Subway." Sun's kinda like that too.

I add Lile here because one should never underestimate the power of a mentor or of allowing one's self to be mentored. I wouldn't have had the cash for a deposit & first month's rent without this lady's couch; I was able to hack through law school at night with her mental support; I have the thrill seeking desire to dare the impossible because I have been witness to her spirit.

You go geeks & top people of the web! I believe in you. Let's commit to doing a better job of supporting each other.

By the way, back to the Top Women of the Web-- which I actually watched in all my schlumpy glory. I don't get very excited by buying a new tech gadget like a phone or pda or by that many boobs, but I suppose it's a case of differing perspectives.

Finally, someone in house had a great idea of starting a meme chain-- name some of your Top People of the Web. I'm ready for some positive inspiration with perhaps a wee bit less Lycra...okay, maybe an abundance of fabric rather than the alternative...

Just a thought.


Thanks for that. With the web being just about the 20th-21st century equivalent to the discovery of fire, paying a little homage to the real geniuses might be a good idea. Certainly one of the phenomonae of computer science is that it is truly gender neutral, but then I guess so is jet pilot huh?
While we are on the subject of reverence, (irreverence) don't forget the best little radio station in the world A bit of that in your life will smooth your wounds.
Thank you for what you do Michelle.


Posted by John Taylor on August 22, 2008 at 04:37 AM PDT #

I hear that! When I woke up in the middle of the night and the Tivo was recording something, I knew my husband HAD to be up to no good, so I turned the TV on. I was appalled that this was being shown on a channel my teenagers could "tune in", and not on a pay channel which I refuse to subsribe to! What is with this world? And it really shocked me that my husband, being a recent born-again Christian would even record this, knowing I could find out very easily!

Posted by Robyn on September 02, 2008 at 03:01 AM PDT #

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