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SXSW 2017: What It’s Like to Be a Female Tech Executive

At a time when discussion of sexism and diversity is driving the conversation in Silicon Valley, one executive shared how she navigated the "boys' club" to get to the top.

Sandra Lopez is a vice president in Intel's New Technology Group, where she's also known as the chipmaker's fashion technologist.

At this year's SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas, where technology, music and film converge, Lopez told NBC News she spent the beginning of her career trying to fit in — and covering up her Mexican heritage.

Intel's Sandra Lopez On The Silicon Valley 'Boys Club' Problem 2:28

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"I never told people that I was Mexican, because I didn't want it to hinder my success," she said. "When I started my career, I thought that I was going to be successful because I should just be one of the boys."

She said she learned a valuable lesson that it's crucial to bring "your authentic self to the table" if you want to succeed.

"That meant embracing my feminism. That meant embracing the notion that I was Latina," Lopez said.

She also said women can play a powerful role in reshaping Silicon Valley's bro culture by driving the conversation around unconscious bias — whether it's in emails, meetings or the assignments people get.

In one instance, Lopez recalled when an executive sent an email wanting to introduce her to another "girl."

Men aren't called "boys" in the workplace, she said, explaining one example of unconscious bias that she called out in the workplace.

"That's the lack of awareness," she said.

"It is going to be us females helping the next generation of girls not give up and pursue a degree in engineering," Lopez told NBC News. "Fast forward 15 years, I think Silicon Valley is going to look very different."