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Meet new U.S. technology czar Megan Smith

In this file photo, Megan Smith of Google speaks during the Digital Life Design women conference (DLDwomen) at Bavarian National Museum on June 30, 2011 in Munich, Germany.

Sascha Baumann, Getty Images

President Obama announced the appointment of Google executive Megan Smith as the U.S. chief technology officer this week, marking the first time the relatively new position has been occupied by a woman.

"Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment," the president said Thursday. "I am confident that in her new role as America's Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people."

In her new role, according to the White House blog, Smith "will guide the Administration's information-technology policy and initiatives, continuing the work of her predecessors to accelerate attainment of the benefits of advanced information and communications technologies across every sector of the economy and aspect of human well-being."

Her immediate predecessor as CTO, Todd Park, was largely preoccupied with salvaging the Obamacare website HealthCare.gov after a disastrous debut last October.

Smith was most recently the vice president of the Google[X] "moonshot lab," and before that, she spent nine years as the company's vice president for new business development.

At Google, Smith also spearheaded efforts to bring more women into the technology sector, and some industry watchers are already hailing her appointment as a victory for women in a sector that can often be male-dominated.

Wired Magazine dubbed the appointment "fitting," lauding Smith as "a gifted programmer and technologist" and "one of the country's leading advocates in the movement to get more women into tech jobs."

Smith told the magazine in an interview this summer that females aren't drawn to the technology sector because they don't have many fitting role models. "There are 2 to 3 million women programmers in the world," she said. "We need to see them more."

At a Google event this summer meant to attract more women to coding, Smith told a room full of young women that they need more "heroes" to guide their own ambition.

"Nobody's encouraging you. Nobody's showing you the value of why you're doing this and why it's so impactful on the world," she said, according to Wired. "We want to show you that you have incredible heroes who already do this work."