By Robin Respaut
SANTA CLARA, Ca., Feb 24 (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton
lamented the pay gap between men and women to a crowd of female
technology executives on Tuesday, in a speech that showed she
may make gender inequality a main theme in her likely 2016
It was the first of three speeches the former U.S. secretary
of state plans to give to predominantly female audiences in the
coming weeks, ahead of her presumed but officially undeclared
second attempt to run for president. She is the favorite to win
the Democratic nomination by a large margin.
With repeated references to breaking "glass ceilings",
Clinton noted that less than a quarter of software developers
are women, and partly blamed technology companies for fostering
a loutish culture.
"It's been almost a Wild West environment," she said of
Silicon Valley's boom in recent decades. "I think a lot of women
find that distasteful, to be in a situation sort of resembling a
She was warmly received by thousands of women and a
smattering of men at a convention center in the heart of Silicon
Valley, where women commandeered many of the men's bathrooms
during the course of the day.
Teams from Oracle Corp, Ericsson and
Intel Corp were among those in attendance. They laughed
knowingly as Clinton made her practiced non-committal noises
about whether she will run.
Although she did not drift from previous positions, it
seemed clear she hoped to emphasize her interest in gender
In her unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential
nomination in 2008, Clinton's campaign tended to downplay her
gender and the historic nature of the prospect of a woman being
elected president for the first time.
She now appears to have fewer qualms, and has recently
relished describing herself as a grandmother.
Next month, Clinton is due to speak at the annual conference
of Emily's List, the political action committee that helps to
elect women who support abortion rights. Later in March, she
addresses the Toner Prize award ceremony, named for the late
Robin Toner, the first woman to become a New York Times national
Taking questions after her speech, she criticized the
National Security Agency, which a whistleblower revealed was
secretly gathering data on millions of Americans, as not
"People felt betrayed," she said. "You didn't tell us you
were doing this and now we're reading this on the front page."
(Additional reporting by Sarah McBride in San Francisco;
Editing by Ken Wills)
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