We need more women in technology. In 2012, women made up only 26 percent of the computing workforce, out of 3,816,000 computing-related occupations. (Department of Labor Current Population Survey, 2012)
In the same year, only 18 percent of computer science majors were women.
Women hold only 11 percent of executive technical roles at privately held, venture-backed companies. (Dow Jones VentureSource, 2012)
Only 7 percent of venture capital goes to women-owned businesses, and of those venture capitalists investing in startups, only 4.2 percent are women.
These and other telling statistics are indicative of a huge problem!
It’s time for a shift
I have had the extraordinary privilege of working with some of the most inspiring, ambitious female leaders of our time.
I want to devote this blog to them.
Women are primed to lead in this new era of innovation.
I’m proud that each year’s Singularity University Graduate program has some 40 percent women attendees.
In this blog I’d like to share the stories from three extraordinary women: Anousheh Ansari, Lynn Tilton, and Megan Smith.
Many of these quotes have been printed here with permission from my dear friend Vivek Wadwa’s new book, “Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology” – a book that I highly recommend to anyone reading this blog.
I also want to thank Vivek for his dedication and work promoting the need for more women in technology.
(Co-founder and Chairwoman of Prodea Systems, former CEO of Telecom Technologies, title sponsor of the Ansari XPRIZE)
“President Roosevelt once said: ‘Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.’ I like to believe that’s how I live my life, and so, a few years later, after meeting my husband at MCI, we both left the company and started on our road to entrepreneurship.
"Building a company from scratch and growing it is exciting, but also a big challenge. It is very much like raising a child: while it’s very rewarding, it also has its share of ups and downs. As a female CEO of a tech company, I learned that even though I lived in one of the most advanced western societies, certain prejudices against women in leadership positions, especially in high tech, still persevered. However, my philosophy has always been to do my best in everything I set my mind to and let my work speak for itself. This has proven to be a most successful strategy and has turned many skeptics into believers and friends…
"…I didn’t want to become one of those people who would just complain about what’s wrong in this world—I wanted to do something about it and to change it. Sometimes it is easier to take risks when you have very little to lose, but as a successful entrepreneur, taking risks and daring to do big things takes on a whole new meaning. I think most people in my shoes would have given up on their so-called crazy dream and stayed in their comfort zone instead of stepping out and facing uncertainty and potential failure. But for me, it wasn’t just a dream. It was a burning passion that gave me a sense of purpose and direction in life.
"I’ve always believed that if you want something bad enough in your heart, the universe conspires to help you achieve it. I consider myself a very lucky person, as one of the few who is living out a childhood dream, but as Louis Pasteur said: 'Chance favors a prepared mind.’”
(Business magnate and investor, CEO of Patriarch Partners, a holding company managing 75 companies with more than $8 billion in revenue)
“Our journeys, as women of industry, technology, or service—are lonely and fraught with obstacles unknown to men. We face a choice and consequent juggling act indigenous to our sex—the election whether or not to bear children and, if so selected, the split-of-self required to rear our young without losing the propensity of trajectory to our career paths.
"This unrivaled quest to 'have it all,’ to 'excel at both,’ or the unbearable compromise to 'sacrifice one for the other’ should bind us and unite us in the awe and appreciation of modern womanhood. But instead, few of us find the support system, the sponsors, or the advocates to drive us forward when the darkness envelops us and the battles overwhelm us.
"It need not be this way. It should not be lonely, but the path lively with the laughter and love of female friendship. I have often stated in speech and written word that our destinies, as women, will change when we begin by being kind to each other. We can then expect men to take their cue from us. But rather than blame exogenous forces or the male population, we should begin with that which[…] we can control: our own behaviors.
"Madeline Albright is well-known for her myriad achievements and her celebrated statement, the often-repeated but little practiced, 'there is a special place in hell for women who are unkind to women.’ If this is, indeed, so, then there will be far too many of us in this reserved station. Why do we compete with and cannibalize each other rather than support and promote? Why do we little understand that we are 52 percent of the population and we need not be rivals for a few token places at the top of our profession, but rather, together, we can open access to many more doors?
"We live in a country where we can embrace every liberty, gain admission to every institution of higher education, and find entry into every professional field. We, as women, graduate at the top of our classes in undergraduate, legal, business, STEM, and medical educations. And yet, when we look to the top echelons of our respective field, so few of us sit at the top…
"Of one inalienable truth I am certain: together, standing shoulder to shoulder, women are the greatest force of nature. I also know that when we cease to dilute our power in the name of politics, religion, and male attention, we will be introduced to the best version of collective self. The Dalai Lama has opined that women will be the salvation of the world in the communal power of their compassion. And compassion is contagious.”
(CTO of United State of America, Google’s Director of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach)
“There is enormous potential to tackle the world’s toughest challenges with women and men working together on solutions, tremendous opportunity to improve our communities and our countries and together to elevate our global human condition through entrepreneurship and "10X thinking.” It requires courage, rolling up our sleeves, and moving outside of our comfort zone and our traditional ways of thinking.
“Gloria Steinem said, 'Don’t think about making women fit the world—think about making the world fit women.'As an industry, we are just at the start of understanding this insight and how we might change and adapt our tech culture to better accommodate so many more innovators.
"If not now, when? If not us, who? Take action.
"We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
Please share this
Let’s push this movement forward.
Please share these stories with your family, friends, and colleagues alike.
It is up to us to make change happen.
There are so many opportunities to engage in these discussions.
I run a mastermind group called Abundance 360 every year with 250 executives, entrepreneurs, and investors. We have about 20 spots left before we cap the group, and I would love it if they were all women. If you are or if you know of someone who might be a good fit, have then apply here.
You can also follow my friend Vivek Wadwa on Twitter here.
Here’s to all the incredible women I’ve had the chance to know and work with! You are an inspiration to us all.
Also read: TOP 50 MOON SHOTS (2000 - 2020)
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