One Giant Step Back for Software Woman-kind?

Sarah Lacy

Being one of the few women covering business software out there, every once in a while I have to play the girl card. (And not just to blog about my Ann Taylor silk camisole woes.) Today it's about Carol Bartz, who stepped down as CEO of Autodesk.

It's a shame and not just because she's been one of those rare posterchildren for women CEOs of large, public tech companies. Bartz helped pull off quite a turn around in her 14 years at Autodesk, landing the company a strong footing on the BusinessWeek 50 last year.

But the woman thing is certainly part of it. Bartz herself addressed this telling Cnet, "It would be nice if there were more women CEOs, but it's not my role to hang around until I'm 80 and drooling." True, but BusinessWeek, like many business publications, gets a lot of flack for peppering its pages with too many white middle-aged men and moves like these don't make it any easier on us to wedge in a few good women-- particularly when it comes to software. I know, we've still got Meg Whitman, but eBay doesn't really count because it's an Internet company. Yes, I know they use software- so does everyone in tech in some way or fashion. But I'm talking real business software. Who else is there?

I guess the highest ranking woman in software now is Safra Catz, president and CFO of Oracle Corp. and rumored to be next in line for the Ellison throne. No one expects Ellison is going anywhere anytime soon. But if Catz were to get the top spot at the world's second largest software company, that'd be quite a coup for software-woman kind. Unfortunately, the intensely private Catz probably wouldn't let many reporters in on how it feels to be the new Carly Fiorina. So here's a public plea to go along with the many, many private ones I've made directly to Oracle: How about an interview, Safra?

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