A panel of young female entrepreneurs weighs in on women in technology; the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in the male-dominated tech industry.
Scott Gerber (@askgerber), founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council and author of ‘Never Get a Real Job,’ assembled a panel of young female entrepreneurs to weigh in on the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in the male-dominated tech industry. The panel came up with 7 seriously awesome tips that reflect my line of thinking on the matter.
Women in technology are sparse. As it stands, only 3% of ALL tech firms are founded by women (source: Vivek Wadhwa (@wadhwa), visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, tech researcher & entrepreneur).
Research suggests there’s a disparity amongst men and women in tech because of a general lack of interest amongst women. But why the lack of interest? Personally, as a female tech entrepreneur, I don’t necessarily believe industry roadblocks are to blame. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington (@arrington) shares my view. I think the discrepancy is more so related to a combination of factors, including upbringing, societal factors and family values.
So from one female entrepreneur to another female entrepreneur, what are the challenges women in technology face, and what could help eliminate some of those barriers? Here’s what Scott Gerber’s panel shared on Mashable:
1. Women’s Organizations Help: Lisa Nicole Bell (@LisaNicoleBell) of Inspired Life Media Group highlights that although women tend to be more relationship-oriented in general, networking into the inner circle of the tech world is not as easy for us. Organizations like Women 2.0 (@Women2) and Women in Technology International (@WITI) will be instrumental in bridging that gap in the coming years.
2. Sharing is Key: Amanda Aitken (@AmandaAitken) of The Girl’s Guide to Web Design says that women who want to register for a course or launch a startup should share how they feel with friends and colleagues. There’s a misconception that “only men are doing it.” But if women talked about it more, it may give other women permission to dive in.
3. See the Glass as Half Full: Thursday Bram (@ThursdayB) of Hyper Modern Consulting highlights that although, traditionally, there has been a dearth of women in technology, as of late, we’ve seen a rapid incline in growth. According to Bloomberg, women are tech savvy! Thursday suggests we look to the future rather than focus on the past. I agree!
4. Develop Access to Capital: Women founders can find it more difficult to raise funding for their businesses. The statistics show that less than 20 percent of female-led ventures get funding, which is much lower than the statistics for men. That said, Doreen Bloch (@DoreenBloch) of Poshly Inc. (@LivePoshly) recommends several great organizations that are actively helping women reach their funding goals, including Women 2.0 (@Women2) and Astia (@AstiaNYC).
5. Be Yourself: When Lauren Friese (@TalentEgg) of TalentEgg Inc. started her business, not only was she a woman in the tech industry, but she was also very young (only 24). She shares that she learned early on that her biggest strength was her ability to be herself. She says “I didn’t pretend to be older than I was, or have more experience than I had. I also didn’t try to emulate men in my industry. I was just me, and I never listened to any commentary regarding the barriers that I was supposedly facing by being a young woman in technology.”
6. Having Some Chutzpah: Nathalie Lussier (@NathLussier) of Nathalie Lussier Media shares that women need to have some chutzpah (Yiddish for ‘guts’). Once women “start getting their hands dirty in the tech world, there’s no stopping them.”
7. Find Mentors: Natalie MacNeil (@NatalieMacNeil) of She Takes on the World shared that only one in five professional women have had a mentor. It’s surprising since many of the female tech powerhouses, like Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, often discusses how important mentors have been in her career. Natalie says “When looking for a mentor, I think it’s good to seek out males and females… it’s good to have a male perspective [too]. Personally, my male and female mentors push me and challenge me in different ways, and I really appreciate that.”
All around great advice from some serious movers and shakers in the technology entrepreneurship space. If you want to learn more about the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), a nonprofit organization that promotes youth entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment, follow the hash tag (#FixYoungAmerica).