Women is...: Kim Polese, techie entrepreneur

Kim Polese, techie entrepreneur

Words like these make Polese see red. "It's very disturbing to encounter this pretty blatant sexism in 1997, in this region of the world. It's not about me, so much as it is about women and their ability to succeed in this industry."

"I think that all women should be judged on our competence, not on whether we happen to be young. And I'm disturbed at what I'm seeing emerging -- portraying women in this industry as a cliché, as someone who is using her sex symbol-ness to get ahead or to manipulate the press."

Most of the time, though, these issues never arise. "I'm so focused on my job -- trying to create a successful product -- that being a woman is far from my mind, and it's generally not an issue for me."

on attitude: "I do think that there are opportunities for women in this industry everywhere, at every level. But success is about looking inside yourself, exuding confidence. A lot of people don't have confidence, and doubt themselves. It's about the vibe you give out."
on her future: New York Times columnist Denise Caruso once said that in the world of high technology, "women have great opportunities as entrepreneurs, but smaller companies are bought by big companies, and we all know who runs those." Polese demurs: "As far as being swallowed by a larger firm goes, the decision there will be based on my responsibility to our stockholders. It can't be a personal decision," she says. "I'm not even sure Gates had an aspiration to run a gigantic firm. He was doing what he loved to do, and somehow everything he did worked."

on the future of the Net: "I look at the Internet as a utility in the same way that electricity is," she says. "In a few years, our consciousness of it will start fading away, so we won't be so cognizant of things like access, browsers and plug-ins. It will be more about the experience of what the Internet allows you to do, like do financial management or play a game."

parting shot: "If there can be a Madeleine Albright, why can't a woman be running a company like Microsoft?"