Question: What challenges do women in tech face today, and who or what will help eliminate some of those barriers?
Question by: Ashley
Locked Doors of Networking
"While women tend to be more relationship-oriented in general, I've found that networking our way into the inner circle of the tech world is not as easy. This include VCs, technical co-founders and partners. I believe organizations like Women 2.0 and Women in Technology will be instrumental in bridging gaps in the coming years."
"We need more women in tech -- period. Whether a woman is contemplating launching her first startup or simply considering registering for a course that will teach her to code HTML and CSS, it's so important that she talk to her friends and colleagues about what she's doing instead of keeping it to herself. When these conversations between women don't take place, the circle of women in tech grows at a much slower rate than it could. Outside the tech world, there's this perception that "only men are doing it," but if we all talked about it more, I think we'd find that just as many women are intrigued, and even already dabbling in tech "on the side." And that would give more women permission to dive in, head first."
By the Way, the Glass IS Half-Full
"Despite the fact that we tell girls and women that any path is possible, there are still strong gender roles that reinforce the idea that women aren't as good at STEM skills. The most important step we can take is to integrate these skills in the classroom as early as possible by showing women with jobs in tech to young girls. By treating it as this big issue -- at least, when trying to encourage girls and young women to go into tech -- we are sending the message that women in tech are a rarity, when numbers have grown dramatically. We're creating something of a self-fulfilling prophecy and we need to step back from that. Early education can make girls see STEM skills as the norm, rather than anything outrageous, so we need to start there."
Access to Capital
"Women founders are said to have a more difficult time raising funding for their businesses. The statistics show that less than twenty percent of women-led ventures get funding, which is much lower than the statistics for men. There are great organizations trying to help women achieving funding, including Women 2.0, Astia and others."
Judged by the Cover
"When I was starting TalentEgg, not only was I a woman in the tech industry, but I was also very young -- a 24-year-old who looked like I was only 15. Thankfully, I learned early on that my biggest strength was my ability to be myself. I didn't pretend to be older than I was, or have more experience than I had, and I didn't try to emulate men in my industry. I was just me, and I never listened to, or accepted, or paid any attention to any commentary regarding the barriers that I was supposedly facing by being a young woman in technology."
"When it comes to women in tech, we need more of them, and a little chutzpah. Once women start taking action and getting their hands dirty in the tech world, there's no stopping us. There's a huge shift happening right now, and actions needs to be rewarded at a much earlier age for young girls who show an interest in technology."
More Male Mentorship
"I was recently reading an article from LinkedIn that only 1 in 5 professional women have had a mentor, yet most women believe having a mentor is an important for career advancement. In male-dominated industries, having a mentor is even more important to overcome challenges and obstacles. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, often discusses how important mentors have been in her career. When looking for a mentor, I also think it's important that women seek male and female mentors. Women are more likely to choose a female mentor and while I think it's critical for women to support other women, it's also 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."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.