Gender was not the important issue in Hewlett-Packard's choice of new chief executive, Carly Fiorina said yesterday her second day in the job.
Earlier this year HP announced that Lew Platt was to retire and began searching for a replacement. Yesterday it was revealed Fiorina would takeover as president and chief executive immediately, with Platt to leave the company at the end of the year. (see Newswire 19 July)
"All of the publicity in the search for HP's new CEO has always covered both men and women. That says a lot about HP and I hope we're at the point where people have figured out there is no glass ceiling for women. My gender is interesting but not the issue," she said.
Alison Adams, chair of British Computer Society (BCS) affiliation Women into Computing said that while it is a real achievement for Carly Fiorina, now president and chief executive office of HP, it doesn't necessarily help women hoping for careers in the technology industry.
"These women can't really act as role models as they are too exceptional and have given their all to their careers. Women have got to kill themselves to get to that position and while it is a real achievement, nothing will really change until we have a more balanced domestic situation," she said.
Ironically, it was HP which published research last year showing that the male dominance in IT is increasing. The company said women make up only seven per cent of people on Windows NT courses and 15 per cent on Unix courses.
Industry analysts were more positive about her appointment. Thomas Meyer, research analyst with IDC, said it was "good news" for women in IT.
"We are beginning to see more women in the boardroom now, but not right at the top. It sets a good example and HP also has Ann Livermore who is president of HP's enterprise computing division and was also in line for the chief executive position," he said.
Fiorina, only 44 years of age, previously worked at Lucent for 20 years, most recently as president of the company's Global Service Provider business. While at Lucent, Fiorina spearheaded the planning and execution of Lucent's 1996 initial public offering and subsequent spin off from AT&T where she had begun her career, as an account executive.
She holds a bachelor's degree in medieval history and philosophy from Stanford University, a master's degree in business administration from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science degree from MIT's Sloan School.
In addition, Fiorina is a member of the board of directors of the Kellogg's company and Merck and Co. She was elected to the US board of trade and most recently was voted the most powerful woman in American business by Fortune magazine.
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