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December 11, 2018   •   Susan McDonald

Why Women in Tech Matter and How YOU Can Support Them

 
 

Our very own Josh Krammes, vice president of community, was recently selected as a Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley Advocate of the Year finalist. When Josh was nominated for this award, it undoubtedly raised some eyebrows. I must admit, it did mine. He is, after all.... well, a man. But this recognition perfectly demonstrates the ethos of our ecosystems program: we don't succeed unless ALL are given the opportunity to succeed. I know what Josh does for women entrepreneurs, in and out of the tech field, and (once I got out of my gender mindset) feel this recognition is well-deserved.

But don’t take my word for it. Barbara Tien, Co-Founder & CEO of Ponga has this to say about Josh’s nomination:

Josh, you're not only IN the conversation, but you've also created the opportunity FOR the conversation. Whatever actually happens with the Women in IT Awards, know that this community appreciates what you do to support women every day. Bravo, Josh.

Obviously, Josh supports women and women, like Barbara, support Josh, but to celebrate his recognition I wanted to hear from others. Not about Josh, but about what the non-Joshs of the world can do to help women in tech.

So, I asked a number of women in prominent roles to answer this question: Why do women in tech matter and how can we support them?

Here are their responses:


Hillary New Sinclair

Hillary New Sinclair, Founder & CEO, Wheesearch Beauty


There’s a lot of talk about women in tech these days, and why this is important. The obvious answer is that women represent 50% of the population. The World Economic Forum says empowering women globally can bring $28 trillion in GDP growth within the next seven years.

But why tech and why now? The stats are dismal: in the US, women hold only 20% of tech jobs. For startups, it’s even worse: only 17% of startup founders are women who receive 3% of funding. Why does this matter? First of all, it’s about the economics: women-founded companies generate 150% more revenue per dollar invested and generate more revenue as a whole. Even Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary prefers women founders saying, “They make me more money.” In addition, gender diverse teams make better business decisions a whopping 73% of the time, bringing significantly more scope and awareness to opportunities and vulnerabilities. They’re also more efficient, making decisions twice as fast with half the meetings (overall diversity increases these metrics even further).

Women create big and profitable businesses, as evidenced by the current boon in Femtech (helllooo, women control 60% of the finances and make 80% of the purchasing decisions so it’s surprising this is all of a sudden a “thing”) and seeing problems and solutions from a varied and diverse angle.

There’s also lots of conversation these days about if women had a greater voice in the design from the start of many companies such issues as cyberbullying, fake news, bad “sportsmanship” on many sites and more could have been prevented.

The best way to support women is to treat us like any other teammate: listen, give credence to our expertise, and help champion us internally. A recent study in The Economist said that womens' voices are judged more harshly than mens'. So let’s all listen to each other… and all reap the benefits as together we make the world a more profitable, diverse, and efficient place.


Clarisa Lindenmeyer

Clarisa Lindenmeyer, President, Proximity to Power


First and foremost because women are amazing, strong, caring, passionate, and loyal problem solvers! “Women in tech” has become a hot topic, and it is an important one. More important is diversity in general. Having men AND women, AND people from different backgrounds working in tech and around innovation is essential to building the best product, growing a company and doing good in general. Having different backgrounds, mindsets, challenges, privileges, world-views, political affiliations, fashion choices, and family dynamics around the same table solving a problem is a guaranteed formula for success. So, my first answer is, if you want more successful businesses/tech…have more women and have a diverse group period.

Another very simple reason to insist that women are visible and credible in tech, is that little women need examples to emulate. And, young men also need to see what is possible. Physically seeing and witnessing what we can become is so important.

So by the very definition:

em·u·late
verb
match or surpass (a person or achievement), typically by imitation.
"lesser men trying to emulate his greatness"
synonyms: imitate, copy, mirror, echo, follow, model oneself on;
(Google Dictionary)

Women in tech matter so that future generation of women will not only join but SURPASS the work we do today. Each generation is responsible for paving the way and bettering the next. This should be important to everyone, not only women.

Which brings me to my third and final point. MEN. We need MEN, GOOD MEN, to support and sponsor women. Men like Josh Krammes of StackPath, who see women as true equals. Men who support and encourage their growth. There are many men in and around tech. There are normally more boys and young men in science and math programs and then engineering programs. Therefore, we tend to have more male developers and then entrepreneurs and then investors. So, we need men all along this journey to include and invite and encourage and stand up for women. We need men to speak up when female faces are lacking at meetings, conferences, networking events, etc., etc.

Women and men alike have the responsibility of supporting and encouraging the women in tech. And, it makes so much sense, because it makes us all better.


Ari Horie

Ari Horie, Founder & CEO, Women's Startup Lab


Research shows that gender diversity brings different perspectives that can lead to innovative solutions and better performing companies. If 50% of the population is absent from the conversation, we miss opportunities and leave untapped markets.

According to BCG's study, Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet published in June 2018, for every dollar of funding, female-founded startups generated 78 cents, while male-founded startups generated less than half that—just 31 cents. Yet, women-led startups received a mere 2.2% of the total money invested in startups in 2017, according to Fortune.

In a recent study by Illuminate Ventures on gender differences in entrepreneurship, it was also shown that venture capitalists and entrepreneurs overwhelmingly felt that men are more likely to have “networks that provide access to advisors and capital”, a critical success attribute for high performing entrepreneurs in tech.

If you’re an investor, take the time to meet and consider more women-led companies and diverse founding teams. If you’re in a position to mentor and advise, help provide network-building opportunities for women entrepreneurs that will allow them better access to capital and ease the process of building great teams. Many of us have the opportunity to turn the tides and make a difference. We need influencers who are committed to creating a powerful, supportive ecosystem that advances opportunities for female entrepreneurs.


Marisa Warren

Marisa Warren, CEO, Chair & Founder, ELEVACAO Foundation


Fifty percent of the world’s population are women. There are countless examples of women launching successful tech startups, and in senior leadership roles in global tech companies. Yet statistically, they remain underrepresented in tech overall (20% according to small biz trends). It is essential, as we think about how to address this, that women play an active role in the transformation.

There are two key ways we can empower women. First, by, applying gender quotas for recruitment. Second, by implementing programs designed to help build women’s confidence.

While I sometimes find quotas to be a blunt tool, they do have the effect of modifying behavior and focusing minds on results, which is frequently necessary in a corporate environment. I see no reason why gender-based quotas cannot be applied from the top down in organizations. There are explicit and implicit biases in the tech industry that have been consistently demonstrated to favor recruitment of men.

Implementing programs designed specifically for women that help build their confidence levels has been proven to be very successful in both the tech corporate and startup world environments. I’ve seen this first hand with the women tech founders who have gone through ELEVACAO’s Pitch Ready Program. From wining TechCrunch Battlefield Australia, to bootstrapping to $1m ARR and 800,000 app downloads, to preparing to IPO – it has been amazing to see our women's successes post-graduation.




Thank you, Hillary, Clarisa, Ari, and Marisa; and cheers to improving some of those statistics and giving the kids today more strong, successful women in tech to emulate. And congratulations to Anika Balkan of Salesforce for winning Advocate of the Year. I’m sure Josh would agree that being nominated was, in itself, an award (but it’s nice to see a woman take the top prize).

   
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