Power Women: How to Bust Through the Boys Club in Silicon Valley (Video)

“It’s really a fine-tuned balance of trusting your gut and knowing your sh-t,” said New York Times writer Jennifer Jolly during TheWrap’s panel in San Francisco

Last Updated: May 13, 2016 @ 8:19 AM

Courtnee Westendorf, chief marketing officer for the Oakland Raiders, knows what it’s like to succeed despite being in the extreme minority of women in Silicon Valley.

“I spent a decade at Apple,” she said at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in San Francisco on Wednesday during a panel discussion with other powerful women from the Valley. “Talk about a boys club!”

Westendorf was adamant: She doesn’t do backflips to break the glass ceiling. “In the Valley we find ourselves often times being the only female in the room,” she explained. “I’m not playing in a boys club. I’ve earned my right to be here.”

In what was a freewheeling and frank discussion, Westendorf was joined by Krista Anderson, chief customer officer of Okta; Jennifer Jolly, Emmy Award-winning consumer technology journalist; Jade McQueen, managing director of media and entertainment at Box; and Lisa Stone, entrepreneur in residence at Trinity Ventures. (Watch the entire panel in the above video.)

They all seemed to agree: Women need to relax and be themselves in the workplace — and not twist themselves into what they think they need to be in order to succeed.

“Be human,” urged Westendorf.

“It’s really a fine-tuned balance of trusting your gut and knowing your sh-t that makes it all work out in the end,” said Jolly, who writes for The New York Times, of overcoming the challenges women face in the workplace.

“I’m going to show you why I’m here. It’s not about male or female,” Westendorf added. “What we (women) bring to the table is a level of vulnerability and accomplishment,” she argued. “That gives us an edge.”

TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast raised money for Women’s Audio Mission, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts. In a field where women are chronically under-represented (less than 5 percent), WAM seeks to “change the face of sound” by providing hands-on training, experience, career counseling and job placement to women and girls in media technology for music, radio, film, television and the Internet.

Those who donated to the charity auction were Dolby, Women’s Audio Mission, The Oakland Raiders, photographer Joel Bernstein, Surf Air and Skin Fitness Ocean Treatment.

Previous speakers at TheWrap’s Power Women breakfast series have included Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, comedian Chelsea Handler, Game of Thrones’ actress Emilia Clarke, activist-actress Salma Hayek, producer and entrepreneur Gail Berman, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd, media executive Nancy Tellem, digital executive Susan Lyne, technology journalist Kara Swisher and many others.

Presenting sponsors of the Power Women breakfast were Dolby Laboratories, Box and Okta. Other sponsors included CreativeFuture, travel partner Surf Air and fashion partner Ferragamo.

TheWrap broadcasted the event on Facebook Live! Go to FB.com/TheWrap to watch the archived footage.

Watch the full video of the panel above.