Working in a Man's World: Karen Catlin is the Technology Queen

Working in a Man's World: Karen Catlin is the Technology Queen
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“I am a technologist.” -Karen Catlin

Karen Catlin, former VP of Adobe turned leadership coach, has set out to instill her ideology and empower women to push forward in a man’s world - the tech world that is.

<p>Karen Catlin inspires women and men alike to refocus gender equality in the tech industry.</p>

Karen Catlin inspires women and men alike to refocus gender equality in the tech industry.

Karen contends that most of the tech companies are led by, powered by and worked by men. And in fact, if you look at the biggest tech giants, you see a staggering pattern of male CEOs:

  • Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg
  • Snapchat: Evan Spiegel
  • LinkedIn: Jeff Weiner
  • Apple: Tim Cook
  • Microsoft: Satya Nadella
  • Google: Sundar Pichai
  • Amazon: Jeff Bezos
  • Cisco: Chuck Robbins
  • Intel: Brian Krzanich
  • Xerox: Jeff Jacobson
  • Airbnb: Brian Chesky
  • Zillow: Spencer Rascoff
  • DocuSign: Dan Springer
  • IBM: Ginni Rometty
  • Hewlett-Packard: Meg Whitman
  • YouTube: Susan Wojcicki
  • Yahoo: Marissa Mayer

Karen graduated high school in 1981 just as computers were rising to the peak of popularity - the PC came to market in ‘81 and the Mac was introduced in ‘84. Her father had a lot of influence when she decided to study computer science. He came across an article in Money magazine that discussed how women with computer science degrees were making substantial amounts of money. Since Karen had a knack for creating things, specifically in sewing, and exceptional in math, she went for her CS degree at Brown University.

Computers and technology were then (and still are) an extremely lucrative industry. But when it comes to tech, men have the upper hand to really prosper in the field whereas women are at a disadvantage.

According to Karen’s Tedx Talk (this gal really does it all) she describes that from the onset of adolescence, boys are subjected to computers and video games more than girls and thus giving them more exposure to develop a love and the knowledge for coding and the tech scene.

The worst part about it? Because men have the confidence to excel in the tech niche, women associates move away from the space regardless of their passion for it.

Additionally, a recent TechCrunch article highlighted that female-founded startups are funding lower percentages than their male founder counterparts.

Susan Lyne, President and Partner at BBG Ventures, described it like this,

[...the biggest issue is not the number of women starting companies, but the access to capital as you move up the food chain.]

This is exactly why Karen left her 25-year tenure working in software and at Adobe to start consulting and empowering women in tech - she did not let the societal norm of the male-driven vertical discourage her.

Just because you don’t see the same person who looks like you or acts like you, you need to know that you belong there. -Karen

She launched her mission with Karen Catlin Consulting in 2012 as a leadership coach for women and help them in motivational speaking and impart knowledge on how to make it in tech.

And guys, she didn’t forget about you. She provides the means to help you be better allies for your female colleagues.

Never Doubt Your Worth

The mighty will fall and the weak will rise. It is inevitable that, at some point in our lives and careers, we will feel the insurmountable pressures from society and life. But it’s how you hold yourself in the eyes of your doubters and how you manage your attitude that will make or break you. Regardless of what anyone says about your abilities, gender, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, color of your skin, etc., you have to believe that you are worth it to make the best of any situation.

What makes us different in the workforce is our advantage. Each new perspective brings new opportunity to every project and team. As a whole, women and men enrich every company and should not be narrowed to one vertical over another.

If you’d like to reach Karen to come and pay a visit to your organization, it’s easy. Contact her on her website at and follow her on Twitter at @kecatlin for updates.

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