Four Steps to Encourage Young Women into Tech Careers

Four Steps to Encourage Young Women into Tech Careers

Study after study has shown that diversity in the workplace has significant impacts on an organization’s employee morale, productivity and profitability. Yet, at the same time, we continue to see upstream challenges to the participation of women in those industries responsible for driving innovation in the economy. Just look at the percentage of women employees in tech companies –  women make up no more than 20% of the tech workforce at Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter. With this in mind, in early 2014, Google undertook a study of their own. The aim was to identify the factors that influenced young women in their choice of computer science degrees. The results were encouraging – and, I must admit, quite surprising. The study distinguished between uncontrollable and controllable factors. Analysis of the uncontrollable factors – such as ethnicity, early exposure to computers, natural aptitude and so on – revealed that they play a very limited role in influencing young women in their choice of technology study. It is the controllable factors – that largely determine decision-making – and this means that these factors can be acted upon and amplified. There are four factors that can be influenced and there are four steps we can take to encourage young women into technology careers. These are: Social encouragement Self perception Academic exposure Career perception Nina Nets It Out: Controllable factors can be influenced – which represents an opportunity but also a challenge. Without systematic approaches, we will continue to see computer science – and by extension – innovation, suffer. By addressing this problem programmatically we can have a massive impact on...
From 50% to 5% – the Shrinking Role of Women in the C-Suite

From 50% to 5% – the Shrinking Role of Women in the C-Suite

As the economy starts to emerge from this period of slow growth, leaders are looking for opportunities to make up ground. For some, this is about technology driving innovation – investing in new ideas, wearable computers or even robots. For others, opportunities for growth will come from leveraging data – or what we already know about our customers, suppliers and products. But there is a much larger opportunity for leaders and it – or should I say – she – is staring you right in the face. As I have discussed previously, there is a strong and clear correlation between having women on the board of a corporation and out-performing your competition. Yet, as shown in this infographic, while women have strong representation in management, professional and related roles – claiming 52% – only a paltry 5% of women are reported as CEOs on the Fortune 1000. That’s 50 out of 1000. And the percentage of women leading tech startups is even lower – only 3%. If we want growth – and clearly we do – it’s time for boards, and for leaders across the spectrum – to begin rethinking what is needed to be successful. At a time when the economy is looking for growth, business leaders should be looking to unleash potential. And it strikes me that shifting the dial on women executives is one of the lowest risks open to organizations of all size, shape and focus. I’m not saying 20%. Or even 10%. But what would it take for us to move from 5% to 6% during 2014? Just 10 additional women CEOs in the...
Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Each year, the Stevie Awards are held to honor and recognize the achievements and positive contributions of business people and organizations around the world. Awards are made in a range of categories from Sales and Customer Service to Women in Business. This year, they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Back in 2008, I was awarded a Stevie Award as Best Executive in a Services Business (over 2500 employees). It was a surprising and humbling experience. But it also firmly aligned with my personal goals – to encourage, motivate and empower women to chase their dreams. The 2013 Stevie Awards finalists have now been selected. They have been assessed by a panel of over 150 judges across a range of business categories from product, media and marketing through to entrepreneurship and company/enterprise and non-profit groupings. I am excited to see so many women being recognized for their contribution and achievement. Be sure to take a good look through the list. The winners will be announced at the 10th annual awards dinner on Friday, November 8 in New York. Tickets are now on sale. In the meantime, over on the Stevie Awards blog, they have pulled together a potted history of past winners. Under the theme “where are they now,” you can get a snapshot of the recent histories of business leaders like Marla Letizia, COO at Big Traffic LLC, Madolyn Johnson, CEO of Signature HomeStyles, Sandy Forster, CEO of WildlyWealthy.com, Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace; and yes, me too. Image: Aural Asia via...

Seeing is Believing

It’s one thing to know a fact – but often times quite another to understand it. Sometimes it takes a while to sink in. Sometimes we just choose to ignore the situation in light of the facts. We can – in effect – choose to listen to another story. A story that we would prefer to hear. One that accords with our own world view. Sometimes. Just sometimes, we need to see something to believe it. Sometimes the facts need to be laid out before us in a way that shows a situation in its broadest as well as most specific context. So I was interested to see this infographic from SocialCast.on the Techi website. It shows, as I have said before, that we need more women in technology companies. But this is not just about gender – it’s about performance – especially for startups. Not only are the high-tech companies that  women build more capital-efficient than the norm (with higher revenues and less committed capital), there are fewer failures. And that is a good thing for us all. Nina Nets It Out: We all absorb facts in different ways. Some of us absorb knowledge through stories, others through deep reading, and others visually. The infographic above clearly shows that while 2010 marked a change in the nature of our demographic data – with women making up the majority of the workforce – we still have a way to go before we have that level of participation in the high tech...

Thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg and Personal Leadership

As we reach the end of one year and enter into a new one, we all feel the need to recap on what has been and look toward the future – at what will be. Perhaps we are drawn to predictions as a way of helping us make sense of what is otherwise unknowable. But I am a great believer in planning and action. It’s important for us all, as individuals and as leaders, to set forth a vision and follow that through with programs that help us all build towards that vision. At the end of 2010, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, delivered an amazing address to the TEDWomen conference. As she points out: Women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world Women on boards and in C-level positions sits at around 15-16% Women political leaders and heads of state – about 0.5% These numbers have not moved since 2002 and are trending down While not downplaying the role of mentoring, training or other programs designed to encourage the participation of women in business, Sheryl suggests that there is no clear answer (even for herself) – but that an important aspect is to focus on our individual actions and responsibilities. What are the things that we can actually do? Sheryl suggests we take three key actions: Sit at the table – don’t underestimate your skills and capacities. You don’t make the corner office or get a promotion when you don’t sit at the table when decisions are made. Make your partner a real partner – statistics show that women continue to take...

Learning from Smart Women in Technology

I am not alone in writing about the lack of women in technology-based leadership roles. But often, the focus of such posts is on the startup sector – on the web based businesses that gain a large share of the popular press. Yet this is a more widespread issue – it’s not just technology industries where women are noticeably absent – almost all other industries tell the same story. Partly this is a problem of prominence, partly a problem of support. Yet, as Don Dodge points out, there are plenty of outstanding women leaders for us to follow as role models. Here is a list of smart women leaders on Twitter. Where possible I have added their blogs. Go beyond the obvious, read their tweets, see what they are thinking about. Read their websites and take a look at the topics, the challenges and the opportunities  that face us all. Twitter Blog @Sarahcuda Blog Sarah Lacy, author of several books and writer for Techcrunch @MarissaMayer VP of products at Google @Padmasree Padmasree Warrior, CTO at Cisco @Caro Caroline McCarthy – writer at Cnet @JolieOdell Blog Jolie O’Dell, writer at Mashable @GinaTrapani Blog LifeHacker , blogger, techwriter @Missusp Blog Christine Perkett, Boston based PerkettPR agency @Mollydotcom Blog Molly Holzschlag – open web, blogger, conference speaker @Caterina Blog Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr and Hunch @XeniJardin Blog Editor at Boing Boing, contributor to Wired Magazine @Halley Blog Halley Suitt, exec at Communispace @ShiraLazar Blog CBSnews, Media personality, always at tech conferences @Alexia Blog Alexia Tsotsis – writer at Techcrunch @Jhurwitz Blog Judith Hurwitz, Consulting Group – digging into the world of...