A nasty and personal exchange between Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and an outspoken advocate of women in corporate boardrooms has thrown a spotlight on a serious issue in Silicon Valley: the dearth of women in the upper ranks of America's top technology companies.
The spat, which began over the weekend when Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford's Rock Center for Corporate Governance, wrote on the TechCrunch blog about men dominating Twitter's management ranks. Costolo dismissed the comments—and called Wadwa "the Carrot Top of academic sources"—but experts said Wadwa's criticism could go far beyond Twitter.
While there are more high-profile women in prominent positions at top tech companies than even a few years ago, they are still woefully underrepresented.
The leading female executives in Silicon Valley are Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, HP's CEO Meg Whitman and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. They are all advocates of women having bigger roles in America's top public tech companies.
But when asked why Mayer, Whitman and Sandberg are not more outspoken about the issue of more women on the boards of tech companies, Wadhwa said, "Marissa Mayer is part of the problem. She is part of the old boys network," he added. Yahoo did not respond to requests for comment.
And when you take a closer look at the board of directors of the top 10 tech companies by market cap, not one has more than a few women on their boards.
And while women account for more than 80 percent of Americans' buying decisions and more than 50 percent of the people who use technology, governance pros said there is very little pressure on companies to be more inclusive and diverse in the board room.
(Read more: Here's how much stock Twitter execs own)