Cate Dyer is interviewed for last week’s Comstock’s Article – Cracking The Glass:
As recently as January 2015, a study from UC Hastings found that after surveying 557 women in science, technology and math research, nearly all reported experiencing gender bias — 93 percent of white women and a shocking 100 percent of women of color.
We spoke to Dr. Pamela Marrone, founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, which creates eco-friendly, bio-based pest management solutions, to see if that bias remains present in the top ranks of the region’s tech industry. She’s joined by Cate Dyer, who, in 2010, flipped a $9,000 investment into StemExpress, a Placerville company that supplies biomedical researchers with blood, tissues and bone marrow. Just four years later, Inc. magazine scored StemExpress as the No. 35 fastest-growing, woman-led private company in America.
For the academic perspective, we have Dr. Julie Freischlag, the vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis, whose resume reads like a greatest hits of medicine: editor of JAMA Surgery, former surgeon in chief at Johns Hopkins, chair of the board of regents of the American College of Surgeons, and on and on.
Do some people look at you differently as a female CEO instead of just a CEO?
Cate: Oh, I go to events all the time where I’m standing with a male colleague who’s 10 or 15 years older than me, and it doesn’t even cross their minds that I’m the CEO. Sometimes when I introduce myself they’ll say, “I thought your CEO was going to be here.” I try and laugh it off. But stereotypes are so prominent. They still exist. People say, “It’s completely changed!” Or, “It’s not like that anymore!” Sure it is. It happens to me all the time.
What’s your strategy for dealing with this flak?
Cate: I use it to my advantage. People underestimate me constantly. In my 20s, I joined a sales team of mostly men, aged 35 to 45. They would say, “Oh, who knows why they hired this girl?” And I would dominate the field. I would crush these guys’ sales numbers. A lot of women CEOs say the same thing: Let them underestimate you. They’ll never see you coming.
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