A CIO who jumped to CEO says future women tech leaders need to take these 2 steps immediately to position themselves for promotions

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A CIO who jumped to CEO says future women tech leaders need to take these 2 steps immediately to position themselves for promotions
  • Women still account for just 18% of the chief technology and information officers at the largest public and private-sector companies in the US.
  • As female tech leaders rise up the ranks, Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar says they should take more risks, do a better job advocating for themselves internally, and network more broadly.
  • Wassenaar, for example, considered not taking the job of chief information at software firm New Relic over concerns it wouldn’t work out. It wasn’t until a friend pointed out her hesitancy that Wassenaar realized how risk-adverse she was being. 
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The amount of female tech leaders that make it to the job of chief information or technology officer is increasing, but the overall numbers are still abysmal.

Just 18% of the top 1,000 public and private-sector companies in the US have women in those roles, according to a recent study. It’s a reality that Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar knows all too well.

“Most of the decisions are still being made, at least in my world, by white men,” she recently told Business Insider.

To help remedy the situation, Wassenaar says up-and-coming female CIOs or CTOs need to do a better job of advocating for themselves to gain the diverse experience necessary to lead a company’s digital efforts, as well as expand their network beyond other women.

She can speak from experience as one of the few CIOs — male or female — who made the jump to CEO. In 2017, she left software analytics company New Relic to become the head of drone maker Airware. In 2019, she moved to become CEO of IT automation firm Puppet.

Aspiring female leaders need to take risks and ‘raise their hands more’

Tech leaders are increasingly tasked with leading major digital overhauls at organizations, giving them a closer connection to the top brass.

But the expansion of the role beyond overseeing back-office technology has also required those executives to develop a more diverse skill set that allows them to understand the needs of not just the IT team, but all business units across an enterprise.

One way for aspiring CIOs or

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