Where are the women in tech? Updated.

woman in boardroomHaving recently co-founded my own company, I get a big role in defining its culture.  And one of the things my partner and I agree on is the need for diversity in our team across cultures, genders and everything else.

Why?  Because it makes for a more inclusive culture.  And because bringing many different points of view to bear on important decisions yields….better decisions.

To that end, I started asking friends of mine the following question: “where can we find communities of women in technology?”.  This was for the purpose of including such groups in our recruiting outreach.

The results thus far have been, to put it mildly, underwhelming.  Mostly in the form non-responses.  And a suggestion to search on meetup.com, which is like starting mostly cold.

What’s going on?

I know there aren’t many women in engineering roles, especially in proportion to the percent of men.  But they do exist.  And they exist in even larger numbers in roles like user experience design, another role we’re looking for.

(We interrupt this post to note that as I’m writing this, in the lobby of a hotel, James Brown is singing “It’s a Man’s World” in the background music.  You can’t get more ironic than that!)

But despite the size of the community, why can’t I tap into this network of professional women the way I have done with so many other communities of interest?

Rather than put forward my hypotheses, I’m interested in yours.  And any connections you could make.  The journey of a thousand miles – gender equality in tech – begins with but a single step.

UPDATE

I’m pleased to report that the first two hires we’ve made are women.  Not because we went looking for them in women-specific networks; it just happened.  But it’s a big step toward preventing our early culture from being defined by a homogeneously (young) male team that mirrors the tech workforce as a whole.

UPDATE TWO

One of our woman hires resigned just weeks after joining.  Balancing a commute to work, parenting duties such as pickup from child care, and the demands of a startup was just too much for her.  It certainly makes for the argument that it’s tough to “have it all”, at least at certain stages in one’s career.

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Categories: Technology trends

1 reply

  1. We only have a couple female techs in our office at the moment, they are rare but not as rare as you may think. I’ll post links to a couple societies I’ve read about and an article from SBS Diva.

    As for why? Tech really didn’t catch on with most women growing up. I remember spending large amounts of my time using precursor social technology like IRC, and while I easily met hundreds of people through it, only a handful were girls. Now, with easier access to technology, tech-savvy women should increase within the next ten years. Although, I expect it will always be more male-oriented due partly to stigma, but more to do with the type of work involved. IT is a job that constantly changes and constantly demands much of your time to stay on top of trends. Not to say all IT requires this, or that there aren’t women who enjoy that sort of work, but even with the increased access to technology the amount of guys I’ve seen obsessed with new devices and technology far outweighs the amount of women.

    SBS Diva:
    http://msmvps.com/blogs/bradley/archive/2007/10/01/women-in-it.aspx
    Groups:
    http://www.womenintechnology.org/
    http://www.witi.com/

    Hope this helps, and good luck in finding a good match.

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