It’s quite obvious that a gender gap exists between women and men in the tech startup world. An article featured on TechCrunch noted that, “Of the 1090 startups that raised Series A rounds in 2014, approximately 10 percent were founded by women. By state, California and New York stood on equal footing just slightly above the national average, where 12 percent of companies had at least one female founder.”
Yes, the great gender divide in the world of tech still exists even today in 2015, an unavoidable fact that simply won’t disappear overnight – or in this case, over the years. Yet, while the majority of tech startups consist of male CEO’s and Co-founders, it should be noted that more women are now becoming involved in the tech startup scene.
Women Coming Together at #UCLAWIT
I recently returned from The Conference to Advance Women in Tech, a daylong event that took place at UCLA on April 30, 2015. As a young woman who has been involved in the tech startup scene for the past 2 years, I was invited to head a round table conversation and serve as a discussion leader to help foster ideas aimed at getting more women involved in the tech startup field.
After listening to a number of influential women speak during the conferences’ keynote sessions, I complied a list of three key takeaways that will help encourage more women to start a career in technology:
- Mentorship is greatly needed – Apparently, more women are now coming to Silicon Valley to be mentored by leading women in tech. Having a mentor is very important because these leaders help encourage other women pursue careers in fields such as technology.
During the conference, I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Mylea Charvat, founder of the tech-startup Savonix, and a woman who serves as a great example of a mentor for women wanting to build a successful career in tech. When I asked Dr. Charvat for advice regarding female entrepreneurship she explained,
“I don’t identify as a woman in technology, I identify as an entrepreneur. I refuse to think of my gender as a handicap, and I don’t think my success or failure is going to depend on my gender. My achievements hinge on my willingness to work hard, and most of all, on my willingness to help others and my ability to have a positive impact on relationships. I don’t take it personally when I encounter sexism, and I’ve encountered my fair share – I just move on and don’t dwell on it. In fact, I can safely say that for one negative experience, I’ve had hundreds of positive experiences with men. Just because I don’t believe all men are chauvinistic though, doesn’t mean I don’t think sexism exists. Of course it does, but you can’t paint all men in technology with one brush – that’s stereotyping and stereotyping isn’t part of the solution.”
Speaking with women such as Dr. Charvat has personally helped me grow and continue to pursue my career in tech, which is why it’s necessary to have a mentor by your side when developing a career in a field where women are still the minority.
- We must conquer unconscious bias – “Unconscious bias is the hardest element for women to accept,” mentioned Keynote speaker Jess Erickson, Director of Marketing at 500 startups. Erickson also mentioned that tech startups must have a strong HR team who are aware of unconscious bias, in order to efficiently seek out female job candidates.
Unconscious biases are created by our environments and experiences, and have a great influence on our everyday decisions. Unconscious biases can have negative impacts on our way of thinking, and can actually hold women back from becoming involved in technology. Once more women are aware of this, however, there could be an increase in the number of females in STEM fields.
- More funding opportunities and programs must be created – Keynote speaker Kevin Lew, Director of Bixel Exchange, mentioned that startups allow individuals to build culture from the ground up, which is why these leaders need to take advantage of the resources aimed at bringing more women into tech. Programs and non-profit organizations such as Dell’s Women Entrepreneur Network, Google’s #40Foward, and Girls Who Code are paving the way to help bring more women into STEM fields. And although a number of programs have been created to help encourage women involved in STEM field, many more programs still must be developed to further this effort.
Encouraging more women to start a career in technology and STEM fields remains an ongoing battle, yet progress is being made and more women are now jumping on board the tech bandwagon. Gatherings such as The Conference to Advance Women in Tech hosted by UCLA highlight the notion that there are hundreds of influential women building careers in technology, and an event such as this one offers these women the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas on how to encourage even more females to get involved.
One important point that should not be overlooked, however, is the way in which females in technology view themselves. The only way to really conquer the great gender divide in technology is not to consider gender as a setback, but to recognize that any individual, male or female, is capable of becoming a great entrepreneur.
This article was written by Rachel Wolfson from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.