Cindy Alvarez, user experience director
cindy alvarez

When you're a woman in tech, often you're the doormat or the bitch. I don't mind being perceived as the bitch, so I've been OK. But I have friends who have been really bothered by it, and they end up swallowing issues instead of speaking up.

I began my career at a startup where I was the only woman. Meetings at that company were tough. I'd feel like I was under attack for hours. I definitely want to be challenged when it's a valid point, but this was kind of passive-aggressive, and they didn't really know what they were talking about. So I started standing up for myself, and they learned to be direct with me and make sure they knew their stuff. Having to defend my position has helped me a lot, because I now communicate more clearly and directly.

Thankfully, those early issues I had were somewhat minor and haven't really popped up much again. I was lucky to have early bosses who were very egalitarian. They had high expectations of me, and I was able to live up to them.

Now I'm the director of user experience at Yammer, which Microsoft acquired in 2012.

I do think tech is a meritocracy in that if you've succeeded once, people expect you to succeed again. But we don't set people up for that initial success evenly.

  @julpepitone - Last updated March 26 2013 06:13 AM ET
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