Women who run major technology corporations are still so rare that the phrase "female technology executive" is almost an oxymoron.
A handful, however, are proving that women can successfully run the operations and finances of tech giants such as Xerox, Oracle, Genentech, Hewlett-Packard and Lucent Technologies.
A number of our Tech Power Women came up through the sales ranks. Anne Mulcahy, chairman and chief executive of Xerox, a $16 billion behemoth and the world leader in digital color printing machines, began as a sales rep at Xerox 30 years ago.
Patricia Russo of Lucent, which sells data and voice networking technologies, also got her start in sales, but at another company: IBM. Earlier this year, Russo signed a deal to sell Lucent to Alcatel for $13.5 billion. Russo will run the combined company as chief executive.
Finance offers women another route to the executive ranks of technology companies. Safra Catz is part of the management trifecta at Oracle, along with Larry Ellison and Charles Phillips. As president and chief financial officer, Catz helped the software maker acquire PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems.
Hewlett-Packard brings us another powerful woman this year, Ann Livermore. Livermore is executive vice president and runs HP's $33 billion tech solutions group. Meg Whitman, president and chief executive of eBay, found her way to the tech commerce company after earning her MBA and then taking a series of management positions at consumer-focused brands such as Hasbro, Florists Transworld Delivery, Stride Rite and the Walt Disney Co.
Foreign telecom and tech outfits are also represented. Marie Ehrling is president of TeliaSonera, the largest mobile operator in Sweden. Theresa Gattung runs Telecom New Zealand Group, a $35 billion (revenue) phone company.
The tech world has seen some of its brightest female stars step back a bit from the limelight. Carol Bartz stepped down from her role as chief executive of software maker Autodesk this past April, although she remains executive chairman of the board.