Survey reveals people think Siri and Alexa are female tech leaders

When it came naming famous male tech leaders, the majority of respondents had no problems. But when it came to naming a woman, only 4% could actually produce a name. The problem: A quarter of them named virtual assistants “Siri” and “Alexa.”

Photo: Little Visuals

A new LivePerson survey asked American consumers a simple question: Name a leader in technology.

When it came naming famous male leaders, the majority of respondents had no problem ticking off names. About half of consumers could correctly name a famous male tech leader with the top choices being Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerberg.

But when it came to naming a woman in the same industry, respondents drew a blank. Only 8.3% of the 1,000 American consumers surveyed said they could name a woman leader in technology. And out of that handful of people, only 4% could actually produce a name. The problem: A quarter of them named virtual assistants  “Siri” and “Alexa.”

Respondents could name A.I. before they could name female tech leaders

That’s right, there are people among us who think Siri and Alexa — the names of artificially-powered administrative assistants who live in our devices and do not sit in the corner office — are the most powerful female tech leaders in America.

This is a depressing reminder that the representation of real women in technology is still lacking. You cannot be what you cannot see, and technology has historically been a world where women are not seen in top positions. Only 9% of Silicon Valley executives are women, one 2014 report found. While women make up almost half of the labor market, only about 24% of them are in science, technology, engineering, and math jobs.

As Silicon Valley companies like Facebook face publicity relations disasters over the misuse of user data, the company may want to put its Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg in the spotlight.

The survey found that even though the respondents could not name women in top jobs, they would trust tech companies more if they were there. Turns out, women in power inspire public trust in tech products. The majority of respondents said they would trust tech giants more if they knew these companies were being chaired by a woman.

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.