Wanted: Women Leaders in Tech
As a woman who has chosen a career in technology and, for the last decade or so has bootstrapped it in the mobile and social media sectors, I’ve gotten used to being one of the few, and sometimes, the only woman in the room. But having grown up surrounded by three supportive brothers, not only did this not bother me, I hardly even noticed.
Then something changed. I realized during my last start-up that not one of the more than 20 investors that we pitched for our first funding round was a woman. Not one of the entrepreneurs in the New York tech events I attended was female. And this did bother me. It just didn’t reflect the enthusiasm and knowledge that I found in rich evidence with my female friends and the many women in my network. I realized then that this wasn’t a matter of interest or ability, but more about “the network”. Or lack thereof.
While women are the hands-down winners in the relationship arena, men have historically benefited from better professional networks. Through corporate or school ties men have mentored and supported one another to enable career advancement, secure seed funding and the like. Women, just as they get to an age and experience level to move up or do great things on their own, are pulled in directions away from their big, fat audacious goals. Or at least they feel conflicted about those goals. Other women — potential mentors — are too busy struggling with their own choices to lend a hand. And this has affected our progress in the boardroom, where a paltry 3.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and in high tech start-ups, where the numbers are even less impressive.
But here’s the good news: social media has the power to change all that. One reason is that a career in “tech” used to mean a path in computer science and/or engineering. Now, much of the real action is in how the technology connects and where it can take you…and now we’re back to women and some of their core strengths. The Internet going social has the power to change everything. But women need some help.
At Collective Bias we’re fortunate to be surrounded — literally powered by a highly dynamic predominantly female engine called Social Fabric. This community of connectors and influencers drives our business and powers our brand. As a company, we work hard to bring exciting and interesting opportunities to them every day.
What’s more, we have just initiated an educational component within Social Fabric called Social Fabric University — an online curricula designed to help our community members produce more compelling content, drive more traffic to their sites, and in general, improve and grow their small businesses and their personal brands.
I think it behooves all of us to support the women around us — and we can do so in very fundamental, personal ways. Think about the businesses you like and spread the word about them, help your nieces and daughters to connect and learn more about business and today’s technologies. Share your contacts and mentors with your wives, sisters and moms…or become one yourself. Listen to their ideas, and encourage their big goals.
This support and change is critical to enabling our country to move forward in the years ahead –as more than half of the college students and work force in the U.S. today is comprised of females. We don’t just want these women to plug along –we want them to fly high and reach new heights!
For women to successfully navigate the career choices and challenges they face — and achieve both professional and personal fulfillment, they need solid support networks of all kinds. From a different perspective, if we don’t encourage our women to succeed and lead, our standard of living as a nation will suffer. And that’s not a bleeding heart, that’s just basic math.