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Is the tech sector more welcoming for women?

A month ago, the proportion of women at the World Economic Forum in Davos fell from 17 percent in 2011 to 15 percent this year. Women seem to be struggling to be represented in the political and economic realms across the world, but are they faring better in the technology sector?

skynesher | Getty Images

There are notable female women at the top of technology companies: Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman are the most well-known.

While Sandberg and Mayer were not at the Mobile World Congress, there were numerous other leading female figures in the sector: Mozilla Foundation chairperson Mitchell Baker, Chief Executive Officer at Canonical Jane Sliber, HTC's co-founder Cher Wang and Selina Lo, the CEO of Ruckus Wireless.

(Read more: More women in technology jobs?If only it were true)

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology's publication "By The Numbers," in 1985, women made up 37 percent of graduates with a Computer Science degree. By 2010, only 18 percent of Computer and Information Science graduates were women; at major research universities it was just 14 percent.

This disparity - between women at the top and those coming through the ranks - seemed to be reflected in the contrasting way female heads discussed the current landscape in the tech sector.

Mitchell Baker told CNBC that despite the famous women at the top in some places, "I don't think we have quite so much to be proud of in the tech industry. I don't think we have the answer yet."

She continued: "I do know that to succeed in the tech sector in particular for a woman you need to just not notice any more. Sometimes I see photographs and when I see it I realize I was the only woman in that gathering."

(Read more: A call for more diversity on Silicon Valley tech boards)

Selina Lo agreed that women were still not well represented. "In my business, definitely a woman is a minority, and even in the social network space, you have more women but it's still a minority," she told CNBC. "Do I think about it? No, I don't think about it every moment. But do I feel it? Yes."

Still, Lo took a more positive take on the problem and said she not experienced outright discrimination. People were just more comfortable dealing with their own type. "As a woman, you just have to learn to fit in," she said.

Lo argued that there was in fact a good and bad side to the way women were dealt with in the industry. "Because we are the minority, a lot of times people just don't give you the opportunity, but then also you get an unfair advantage," she explained. "At conferences like this, at the speaking engagements they like to have the token woman. For me, I don't really care what the reason is, if it gives us more exposure it's a good thing."

(Read more: Where were allthe women in Davos?)]

Canonical's Sliber, who was in Barcelona to announce Ubuntu's new smartphone, argued that being part of the open source community of Ubuntu placed a real emphasis on respect for people doing things. "Part of that comes from the community nature of people working remotely where sometimes you don't even know what gender someone is," she said. "There's been a very strong welcoming presence for women, which is not always there for women in all areas of technology."

While the amount of women entering computer science appears to have dropped at the college level, there are welcoming signs.

A the University of California, Berkeley - the alma mater of Ruckus' Lo - the number of women at the school's introduction to computer science courses now outnumbers the men, 106 to 104.

"It was the first time since at least 1993 — as far back as university enrollment records are digitized — that more women enrolled in an introductory computer science course," the San Francisco Chronicle wrote.

Back in 2012, Stanford University said its introduction to computer science courses had equal numbers of men and women, and changes at Berkeley and Stanford have been accredited to increased numbers of ointroductory classes available. The problem is ensuring women continue on in the field.

"I think about it regularly, it's obviously a big part of who I am and it's part of my experience," Sliber said, "I think that it is changing, I'm old enough to have seen a change over the years. I think that are obviously more things that can be done."

Mozilla's Baker concluded: "I think we have a way to go. I wish I had the magic key."

—By CNBC's Kiran Moodley. Follow him on Twitter @kirancmoodley

Correction: This report has been corrected to reflect the fact that HP's Meg Whitman was at MWC and held customer meetings at the event.

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