Women 3.0: Carol Bartz

Name: Carol Bartz

Short biography: Born in Winona, Minn., in 1948, Carol Bartz attended high school in Alma, Wis.—where she both excelled in math and was homecoming queen. In 1971, she received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. After graduating, Bartz worked for companies such as 3M, Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun Microsystems. From 1992—2006, Bartz was the CEO of Autodesk, a company that produced 3D software for architectural design purposes, and from 2009—2011, she was the CEO of Yahoo. (Our first Woman 3.0, Marissa Mayer, succeeded Bartz in the position.) Bartz is married with three children and currently lives in California.1

What they do: Currently, Bartz is the Lead Independent Director on the Board of Directors of Cisco Systems.2 She’s been a member of the board since 1996.

Why they matter: When she took her position as head-honcho (a.k.a. CEO, Chairman of the Board and President) at Autodesk, Bartz was the first-ever woman to run a major tech company. “During her tenure Bartz increased revenues from $300 million annually to more than $1.5 billion by 2006. Bartz is credited with streamlining Autodesk operations, emphasizing customer relationships and building a unique and lasting corporate culture.”3

Her two years at Yahoo were rocky, and she unfortunately never quite achieved the changes she had envisioned. She did make news at the time of her firing, however, for the memo she sent to all employees4:

“To all,

I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.


Bartz’s other achievements include:

  • Honorary doctorates from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and William Woods University.1

  • Being included on Forbes’ list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” multiple times; in 2011, she was No. 37.

How they got where they are: Bartz has never been one to take no for an answer. When she was turned down for a transfer to 3M headquarters in the 90s—by being told that women didn’t do jobs like that—she quit the company and moved on to bigger and better things.1 She’s also hilariously unafraid to say what she thinks; after taking on the role of Yahoo’s CEO and cutting the amount of information the company gave to press, she was quoted as saying she would “drop-kick to f***ing Mars” anyone who leaked information. She also lost $10 million because of a 2011 interview she did with Fortune after she was fired from Yahoo, during which she called the company’s board of directors "a bunch of doofuses."4 (Bartz later reflected on her use of foul language on the job, saying that it might have been a detriment to her position.)

References: 1, 2, 3, 4

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