NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Only five companies of the 41 tech companies on the Fortune 500 list can say they are in the technology sector and have a female CEO -- that's an improvement.
For years critics have slammed Silicon Valley for its underrepresentation of women, and Ellen Pao's dramatic departure from Reddit last week, paired with the dismissal and resignation of two other top female employees at Reddit, has thrown the topic back into headlines.
"The company is growing, and we have the opportunity to improve in many areas -- including the number of women in leadership positions," new Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said to Re/code, when asked if the company had a gender discrimination issue. "I am confident in our ability to recruit women at the executive level, as we have made a point to do so at Hipmunk, where more than half of the executives are women."
Even though several of world's largest tech companies are actively trying to hire more female employees, they are still struggling to include women in the fast-growing sector, with the tech companies averaging just 30% of their staffers as female.
In its recent diversity report, Facebook (FB) announced only 32% of all its employees are female, with just 23% of its senior leadership roles belonging to women. These numbers practically matched the ones the company released last year. Yahoo! (YHOO) announced slightly better numbers with 37% of its staff female, but once again only 24% of its leadership were female, including CEO Marissa Mayer.
Apple (AAPL) reflects similar gender breakdowns as its fellow tech companies. At the time of the demographics release, CEO Tim Cook wrote in a post on the company's Web site, "As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers on this page."
This is not to say that there aren't prominent females within these companies' boardrooms.
Sheryl Sandberg became Facebook's chief operating officer in 2008, leaving behind her vice president role at Google (GOOG) (GOOGL). Sandberg is known for her strong stance on women's rights, with her New York Times bestseller Lean In rigorously diving into the topic. Amy Hood became chief financial officer for Microsoft (MSFT) in 2013, making her the company's first ever female CFO. Apple counts three females among its executive leadership -- Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives; Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail; and Denise Young Smith, vice president of worldwide human resources.
But the disappointing fact is women still struggle to reach the top spot at many of these tech giants. Of Forbes' list of the world's 10 most valuable brands, of which Apple is ranked number one, only IBM (IBM) has a female CEO.
So here are eight female tech CEOs leading the way for many more women to come, we hope:
Lucy Peng -- Ant Financial
Lucy Peng is one of Alibaba's (BABA) most powerful female executives, as the Chief People Officer as well as heading the group's standalone financial services unit, Ant Financial. Ant Financial, which targets individuals and small businesses, reportedly serves more than 400 million active users.
Alibaba didn't respond to requests for comment, but the Chinese e-commerce group has often been credited for its inclusiveness of women, with a third of its founding partners female.
Meg Whitman -- HP
Described by Forbes as "blunt, folksy and persistent," Meg Whitman reluctantly took over Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) in 2011, becoming chairwoman in 2014. Whitman's dedication to fixing the tech giant continues with the company announcing in October 2014 a split between its computer and printer business and its enterprise segments.
Before joining HP, Whitman was the CEO of eBay (EBAY), where she expanded the company from 30 employees to more than 15,000. She also made headlines in 2010 when she ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for California governor.
"I was just focused on how can I lead this young company the most effective way I can, and...what I also, over my career, finally thought about is...there are lots of things I can change but my gender is not one of them, and so it is kind of what it is," Whitman said an interview with MAKERS. "I just have to lead according to my personality, according to what I think is necessary under any set of circumstances."
Whitman made $19.6 million last year at HP, and has an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Susan Wojcicki -- YouTube
Wojcicki began working for Google when she was four months pregnant and the company was operating out of her family's garage. She helped spearhead Google's $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube in 2006, and eight years later was made CEO of YouTube.
Wojcicki has been under pressure to increase profits at YouTube, with The Wall Street Journal reporting the video site was roughly breaking even. YouTube was highlighted several times on Google's second-quarter earnings call by Google's new Chief Financial Office Ruth Porat, who noted strong revenue growth at the division.
Now Wojcicki makes up part of the 30% of female Googlers, and in December she made headlines for an op-ed in which she championed a woman's right to maternity leave. "Having experienced how valuable paid maternity leave is to me, my family and my career, I never thought of it as a privilege," Wojcicki wrote in The Wall Street Journal. "But the sad truth is that paid maternity leave is rare in America, and the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in providing for the needs of pregnant women and new mothers."
While her annual salary is unknown, the YouTube chief is estimated to have a $300 million net worth, according to Forbes.
Marissa Mayer -- Yahoo!
Marissa Mayer left her role at Google to become CEO of search company Yahoo! in 2012, and since then she has become one of the world's the most recognizable female CEOs. Mayer has not only upgraded Yahoo!'s content, but also worked to boost its mobile revenue. She has seen some success, with quarterly mobile revenues increasing 61% year over year in the company's most recent earnings report to $234 million from $145 million.
"You can be good at technology and like fashion and art. You can be good at technology and be a jock. You can be good at technology and be a mom. You can do it your way, on your terms," Mayer said in a previous interview with CNN shortly before she took over the reins at Yahoo!.
Yahoo! declined to provide an updated statement for this story.
In 2014, Mayer's pay package increased a whopping 69% to $42 million, ranking her as one of the tech industry's highest-paid CEOs.
Safra Catz -- Oracle
Safra Catz joined Oracle (ORCL) 16 years ago, and in the time since served as its co-president, chief financial officer and is now one of its two CEOs. Catz made a name for herself at Oracle by leading the company through several acquisitions, including eight in fiscal 2013.
Currently ranked the 14th most powerful woman in business by Fortune, Catz made $37.7 million at Oracle last year.
An Oracle spokesperson declined to comment.
Virginia "Ginni" Rometty -- IBM
After joining IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer in Detroit, Virginia Rometty took over the reins in 2012, becoming the company's first female CEO. In the three years since, Rometty has worked to boost profit margins while still trying to grow the company by expanding its software side, cloud computing and Watson artificial intelligence technology.
"IBM is an iconic company, it's an important company to this world, and I never felt that the most important thing was that I was a women. That wasn't it. It was about being and doing the right things as CEO for IBM," Rometty said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Despite her efforts, IBM has struggled to grow revenue, reporting a year-over-year decline for the 12th straight quarter in April.
Last year, Rometty made $17.9 million.
Ursula Burns -- Xerox
Ursula Burns joined Xerox (XRX) in 1980 as a summer intern and has worked her way up to CEO. Burns' current role is helping a company known for its copying machines adjust to a world that continues to go paperless.
"The barriers for women were structural; they were defined by law, as were the barriers for African Americans," Burns said in an interview with PBS. "So now we remove those, and it's just a fair run to the games. So the men are going to have to deal with that."
In its first-quarter earnings report, Xerox reported $4.5 billion in revenue, down 6.3% from the $4.8 billion it generated the same quarter the previous year. Burns made $22.2 million in 2014, according to company reports.
Lisa Su -- AMD
Lisa Su is one of the newest CEOs to this list, becoming Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) CEO in October 2014. She had joined AMD in 2011, and in that time worked with Microsoft and Sony (SNE) to build semi-custom AMD chips for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game consoles.
Su previously worked for IBM, where she was named one of MIT Technology Review's "Top Innovator Under 35" in 2002. She left IBM for Freescale, and led the company's R&D efforts and networking-chip business.
"When we see more men and women CEOs talking actively about promoting diversity and gender equality, we know that this can change," Su said at the No Ceilings Conference in April. "So my hope for the next 20 years from now, we won't be talking about how many women CEOs are on the Fortune 500 because it won't matter. It will be natural for corporate leadership to reflect the most talented individuals."
Su currently has a $850,000 base salary at AMD with an annual cash performance bonus of 150% of her base salary, according to company filings.