Karen Tegan Padir's 2007 Women to Watch Award Citation

Karen Tegan Padir has spent her career proving her third-grade teacher wrong.

Karen was told as a third-grade pupil in Melrose, Mass., that she was good in math — for a girl. When her mother (also a teacher) explained the remark, Karen heard for the first time the bias against women pursuing technical studies.

In the late 1980s, she was one of only two female computer science students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, enduring the 7-to-1 male-to-female ratio. After getting her degree from WPI, Karen spent four years as a software engineer at Stratus Computer. Since 1993, she has spent all but one year — a stint at Red Hat — at Sun.

Karen now makes math and technology her life’s work, managing about 700 employees worldwide. As an example of how important this is to Sun, know that her group makes up about 13 percent of the company’s software division, and generates about 30 percent of Sun’s total software revenue.

Not bad — for anyone.

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