WIT: How Women Of The French Tech Movement Are Turning France Into A Startup Nation

 

By Melissa Jun Rowley of Forbes.com

When former French civil servant turned venture capitalist Fleur Pellerin was in business school in France during the ‘90s, the dream career of her fellow graduates was to be a consultant at one of the top firms or work for a major corporation like Unilever or L’Oréal. But today she says students want to create their own businesses. 

“The entrepreneurial mindset and spirit is much more present in the younger generation in France,” Pellerin shares.

This is part and parcel of the French Tech movement Pellerin architected when she worked in Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government as Minister of SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy in 2012.  Since then, French Tech has been breaking new ground for French entrepreneurs in France and abroad. The initiative brought 320 startups to CES 2018 and has built 32 entrepreneurial communities around the world.

After 15 years working for the government, Pellerin transitioned into the tech startup world and founded the VC firm Korelya Capital, the primary manager of the K-Fund 1, which is investing €100 million in the high-tech industry in France and other European countries. To date, Korelya Capital has invested in six companies, including Devialet, the French speaker company, which has also been invested in by Jay Z. 

What A Difference A Movement Makes

“All the ingredients and the talent to have a great innovation ecosystem in 2012 were already there,” shares Pellerin. “But this initiative [French Tech], taxation of federal gains, and creating crowdfunding helped the development of some businesses. The main outcome is that now French startups know they belong to a movement called French Tech.”

If President Emmanuel Macron has anything to say about France’s place in the global startup landscape, the best is yet to come. He has proposed slashing wealth tax in a further bid to attract investors and boost tech business. And that’s not all he’s setting forth. For the next five years, the French government is poised to spend €1.5 billion ($1.85 billion) to support research and development in artificial intelligence with the goal of catching up to the current AI leaders, China and the US. 

Catching up seems to be a key incentive for French Tech, and not by just a few years. 

“What struck me most when I was minister in charge of digital and innovation was that whenever I traveled around the world France was famous for its wine, Chanel bags and foie gras, but not for its tech,” says Pellerin. “And you know, whenever people mentioned French high-tech things it was always the high-speed train or the rockets, as if the innovation drive in France stopped in the 18th century.” 

Five years ago, Pellerin says nobody thought of France as an innovative country. But now she ’s seeing interest in Asia to invest in French tech startups. She attributes this to France’s strong engineers converging with the country’s creative industry, including cinema, design and 3D animation.

Nurturing Women Founders

Korelya has been investing in startups for one year and has met with more than 250 companies however, less than 10% are founded by women.

“I’d love to invest in companies founded by women, but the problem is there are so few,” says Pellerin. “I might have a bias because my focus is on technology companies, and most of the founders are people with engineering backgrounds. The proportion of women in top engineering schools is low. This probably explains why you have fewer women founders in the digital tech ecosystem. Out of the six companies in my portfolio, one is founded by a woman.” 

Fortunately, there are many groups bringing more women into the French Tech ecosystem, such as StartHer, Girls in Tech Paris and Paris Pionnières. 

With a membership comprised of 50% women and 50% men, Paris Pionnières is the most inclusive incubator in Paris. They’ve come a long way. When the organization launched in 2005, there were only three incubators in Paris at the time.

Paris Pionnières currently runs three startup programs. One that’s exclusively for women is a bootcamp designed to help women “release their entrepreneurial spirit,” as well as test and pitch their startup ideas.

“We’re having great impact in Paris, but in other parts of France the situation is not so good,” says Paris Pionnières managing director Caroline Ramade. “In other parts of the country, 10% of startups are founded by a woman. We also need to scale the ambition internationally.” 

 

With Community Comes Confidence

Audrey-Laure Bergentha is the president of French Tech in her region in the south of Lyon. Her startup Euveka created the first robot able to instantly produce any human being’s size and shape to support the fashion industry, sports, security, and film in the mass customization revolution. The technology is so intelligent it’s able to replicate the body’s aging process, as well as how a woman’s body changes during pregnancy. 

“We [startups] have strong support by the government,” says Bergentha.”

If we are small we can feel big and strong because we have a lot of help, mentoring and advising. The French Embassy brought us to the American market. They’ve also helped us find funding.” 

Bergentha and her team mentor young women entrepreneurs. When asked what she shares with these aspiring female founders she said: “I tell them not to be afraid as I’ve been. It took me too many years to have confidence in myself. I don’t want them to be as slow as I have been. I was my worst enemy because I had no images to refer to, and the way a woman builds a business is totally different than the way men build businesses. I am lucky now that I have two women mentors that have helped me build my vision and have trust in myself. Our [women’s] main problem is lack of confidence.” 

Viva La French Tech Visa

As part of French Tech’s mission to lure talent into the ecosystem, the initiative created the French Tech visa to encourage foreigners to develop their startups in France. The visa is good for a year and places recipients in the incubators of French Tech partners.

France’s Station F, the largest startup campus in the world, is one of them. Home to 1,000 startups and several incubators including its own, the Founder Program, the organization’s management team is 60% women. Additionally, 40% of Founder Program startups are run by women. 

As for the inclusion of women in industries outside of the tech sector, Pellerin is hopeful.  

In 2011, France’s parliament gave final approval on a law forcing large companies to reserve at least 40% of their boardroom positions for women within six years.

“The law was criticized when passed, but now proving to be very efficient,” says Pellerin. “These sort of initiatives create an environment and mindset that will impact all the other sectors.” 

All the French wine, Chanel bags, and foie gras in the world can’t top that. 

How do you feel about the steps thses women have taken to close the Gender Gap in France? Sound off in the comments below!!

Weekly Round Up 1/12/18

 

 

Again?! Steve Jobs may have been a tyrant when it came to the details but, this sh*t rarely happened on his watch.

Yet another macOS High Sierra bug: Unlock App Store system preferences with any password.


With all the Technology surrounding these guys, you’d think they’d pay better attention to the world around them. I mean, I know they live in a bubble, but c’mon!
Data Sheet—Darkness Hits CES Amid the Tech Backlash.

 

And my hometown made the list! Charlotte NC for the win!
Tech’s New Hotbeds: Cities With Fastest Growth In STEM Jobs Are Far From Silicon Valley.

Wait, does this mean no more Jitterbug?!
Tech for the elderly is a growing area, but founders should think more about whether their gadget will be used.

 

I think Steve would be more worried about the lack of leadership in his company right now, actually.
The ‘father of the iPod’ says tech addiction would worry Steve Jobs if he were alive today.

 

What, bribes don’t work on Congress anymore? Since when?!
Tech executives join more than 100 business leaders calling on Congress to move quickly on DACA.

 

You know, when I was a kid, I remember my parents writing to Captain Kangaroo and asking him to cut his programming in half so I’d watch less. SMH
Kids and Smartphones: Should Tech Companies or Parents Set the Limits?

WIT: Apple Included This One Feature Every Woman Should Know About

 

 

 

By LANI SEELINGER of Bustle.com

The new iPhone update is officially out, and say what you will about the new aesthetic features, there’s one feature that could potentially save lives. With the iOS 11, you can place an emergency SOS call from a locked iPhone, and really, this trick is something every woman should know about the new update.

In previous iPhone operating systems, you could call emergency services from a locked screen or by giving Siri the command “charge my phone 100 percent.” While those were effective ways to get yourself out of trouble in most cases, the former wouldn’t always work if the phone’s screen was broken, and the latter wasn’t very discreet.

Now, Apple has fixed both of those problems with this new update. Hopefully you’ll never need to use this feature, but if you should ever be in a tight spot when even speaking to your phone or bringing it out to look at would be dangerous, now you can just quickly press the sleep/wake button five times, and then it will automatically get you in touch with emergency services. If you’ve set an emergency contact in the phone, it will also alert that person that you’re in trouble and give them your location.

And just as an emergency feature should be, it’s incredibly easy to enable.

If you do want it to make a phone call automatically after you’ve pressed the sleep/wake button five times, you have to enable “Auto Call” in your settings. The automatic setting also comes with a protection against just accidentally calling 911 — pressing the button five times starts a three-second countdown, which comes with a countdown noise so you have a chance to cancel the call if you’ve triggered it accidentally. You can turn that countdown sound off in the settings, though. You might want that if you were in a circumstance where an iPhone sound could alert a potential criminal to your location — which, again, is hopefully a situation that you will never find yourself in.

There are a couple of limitations to the feature; for example, it only works in certain countries. If you’re not in the U..S, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain or the UK, then you’ll have to wait for a future update to take advantage of it. All things considered — including the large percentage of the world’s population in those countries — it’s not bad for a start.

While this update will make every iPhone user who has access to it just a little bit safer, it’s especially key for women, who are in many ways much more in danger of being targeted in their everyday lives than men. This could be an effective way to help women who find themselves facing intimate partner violence, a situation in which it’s easy to imagine that even the simple act of making a phone call could put the woman in far greater danger than if she were able to make the call more discreetly.

From a woman’s perspective, this is a big improvement over the days when Apple found itself in hot water for not including a menstrual cycle tracker in its health app update back in 2014. They did manage to fix that little bug back in 2015, this is another signal that Apple is really making a commitment to keeping women safe and healthy. Really the only thing you have to worry about here is activating the call without knowing it — but are you really in the habit of pressing the sleep/wake button five times without paying attention to it? This is a case where it’s definitely better safe than sorry.

Tell us your thoughts on this new personal safety feature in the comments below!

WIT: Women sent Silicon Valley a message. Will it listen?

 

 

By Peggy Drexler

“Peggy Drexler is the author of “Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family” and “Raising Boys Without Men.” She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.”

Could it be that the tide is turning when it comes to men and women in the American workplace?

Hot on the heels of Uber chief Travis Kalanick’s resignation in the wake of various sexual assault scandals at his company, Binary Capital has announced that co-founder Justin Caldbeck is on indefinite leave after multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual advances — allegations that have been reportedly accumulating for years.

Peggy Drexler

Caldbeck’s leave comes just before the Silicon Valley firm was set to embark on a new round of fundraising, stunning news to the venture capital community. Just as stunning: How quickly Caldbeck went from denying the allegations (and calling them “attacks on my character”) to acknowledging them by apologizing directly to his accusers, and even calling out his community as a whole on the issue of sexual harassment and a culture of toxic masculinity in Silicon Valley founder circles. Over the weekend, Caldbeck issued a statement expressing “regret over causing anyone to feel uncomfortable. … There’s no denying this is an issue in the venture community, and I hate that my behavior has contributed to it.”

The message in all this? When it comes to unwanted sexual advances of any kind, or in any context, women are becoming less likely to suffer in silence.
Uber — and an essay by former Uber employee Susan Fowler — is a major and very visible reason for this unwillingness to stay quiet. Kalanick’s resignation was a major step forward in the fight against workplace harassment, particularly in the tech community, where it has been rampant for years. A 2016 survey reported that 60% of women in Silicon Valley have been sexually harassed. Kalanick’s downfall began in earnest when Fowler posted her experiences to her personal blog in February. That essay, in which she described a manager who was looking for women to have sex with, and an HR department that didn’t respond to repeated complaints, launched an internal investigation at Uber and ultimately paved the way to Kalanick’s ouster.

Fowler, of course, was not the first woman to call out the tech industry for its mistreatment of women. Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao spoke about sexism in a piece in Lena Dunham’s Lenny after losing a gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Fowler wasn’t even the first to write about mistreatment at Uber. But just as many women called out such workplace assaults, many still saw it as an unfortunate byproduct of working in a male-dominated, financially male-controlled industry.

In the case of Caldbeck, his position as venture capitalist meant he had the power to fund, or not fund, companies, creating an already-imbalanced dynamic for the female founders who came to him seeking support — an imbalance, it seems, he eagerly sought to take advantage of and which female founders felt powerless to resist.

But, perhaps, not anymore. The ripple effect after Kalanick’s resignation has been significant and impactful, an acknowledgment that the treatment of women does matter and proving that one woman’s story can make a difference. There will be more Caldbecks in the months to come, and that’s because more women will feel empowered and emboldened to speak up. That’s not to say the problem is solved: As Fowler has pointed out, bad behavior will still be enabled by confidentiality agreements and forced arbitration — this, in tech and elsewhere — and there will be men who think themselves powerful enough to be immune to charges of impropriety.

But there will also be fewer women who are unclear that such moves are an abuse and fewer women who will decide to let it go. Will would-be harassers take note? It’s too soon to tell. Though his publicists now insist this won’t be happening, it wasn’t especially encouraging last week to hear Bill Cosby’s spokesman talking about the possibility of Cosby going around speaking to men on how to avoid being accused of sexual assault and harassment. (Here’s a tip: Don’t sexually harass.) But it’s clear that many are listening. Women certainly are.

WIT: How the ‘Sheryl Sandberg of Mexico’ is inspiring women in tech

 

 Photo Caption Source: Softtek

Blanca Trevino of Softtek offers one of the most competitive training and certification programs among IT companies in Mexico.

If you think the glass ceiling for women in tech is tough in the United States, take a look at the challenges they face in Mexico, Latin America and other developing countries. For many the obstacles may seem insurmountable, but not for Blanca Trevino, the co-founder, president and CEO of Softtek, a Mexican unicorn that is the largest IT vendor in Latin America.

Since founding Softtek in 1982, Trevino has helped build a far-flung global empire that offers application software development, security and other IT solutions to more than 300 corporations in more than 20 countries. And it generates more than $500 million in annual revenue. This she and her partners accomplished without venture capital, by bootstrapping and plowing all profits back into the company to foster growth.


At the same time, she has worked hard to elevate women in the IT workplace and has proved to be a role model for those looking for leadership roles in a male-dominated industry. A board member of Wal-Mart Mexico and the prominent Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), her success formula is simple: “Don’t focus on the obstacles you face, but focus on the skills and talents you bring to the field. It’s all about mind-set.”

That wisdom is sorely needed when you consider gender gap in computing jobs has gotten worse in the last 30 years, even as computer science job opportunities expand rapidly, according to new research from Accenture and Girls Who Code. In 1984, 37 percent of computer science majors in the United States were women, but that number dropped to 18 percent in 2014, according to the study. The computing industry’s rate of U.S. job creation is three times the national average, but if trends continue, the study estimates that women will hold only 20 percent of computing jobs by 2025.

In Latin America the situation is worse, experts say. While 44 percent of all science positions — including social sciences — in the region are held by women, they are underrepresented in science, technology and engineering, according to UNESCO.

Trevino has witnessed the trend since her humble beginnings. Back in the mid-’80s it was very uncommon for women in Mexico to go to college and work in the IT field. But the tide is shifting. Now the graduating class of information technology majors at ITESM are 35 percent to 40 percent women, she says, adding, “One thing that’s changed is that there are female role models — such as Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook — who have been able to make it. This gives women confidence they too can succeed.”

Today women make up about 14 percent of executive-level jobs in the technology industry, according to the Anita Borg Institute. The organization says women are frequently pushed into softer technical roles that rarely lead to senior and executive positions.

The best advice Trevino can give to aspiring women looking to launch a technology start-up?

1. Start by developing a big idea and commit to it.
2. Don’t spend timing thinking about obstacles; instead, focus on your strengths.
3. Find great partners. It is easier to start a business if you share your dream with someone else. As a woman who often has to juggle work and family, having a support system can help you boost the odds of your success.

 

What do you want to see more of with regards to Women in Tech? Leave us your suggestions in the comments below!

Weekly Round Up 6/2

 

Me too, Woz. Elon Musk is ‘the man’!
Apple Co-Founder Bets on Tesla for Next Tech Breakthrough

A strongly worded letter isn’t going to do it, guys. Drumpf only has a third grade reading level and the attention span of a gnat with a lobotomy.
Lab Report: Tech Leaders Fight for Paris Accord

Any progress in this fight is good. We need to up the survivor rate numbers for most gynecological cancers.
New tech promises easier cervical cancer screening

I don’t know if this country can survive another bubble bursting…
Another tech bubble in the making? Many signs say yes

I applaud any gadget that motivates us to get off binge watching butts and work out.
The Best Health Tech 2017: Gadgets That Make You Fit And Healthy

Please be true!Please be true!Please be true!Please be true!
This guy wants to use tech to create a “Wizarding pub” in London.

Did they make this so all the nerds living in their mom’s basement will have something to wear when meet their Sex-bots for the first time?
Fashion and tech collide in this VR-friendly connected shirt

Let’s see if Apple has any love for the Mac Pro and iMac users out there.
Apple WWDC 2017: What to Expect

WIT: It’s Tough Being a Woman in Tech. CoderGirl’s Mentors Hope to Change Just That.

 

By Allison Babka

The culture is what kills, many women in tech say. And a startling experience is the knife.

“I don’t even know who he was, but he was stopping by to talk to one of the guys I knew really well in the next cubicle,” Katie Mathews remembers with a grimace. “I was grabbing some cashews from my friend’s desk, and he was like, ‘Oh, you like John’s nuts?’ and kept saying it. And the guy who was my friend and sitting right there just did not do a thing.”

Mathews, then a software engineer at a large St. Louis aerospace corporation, was stunned by the visitor’s innuendo-laden “joke,” she says. For a newer employee at her first post-college job, the innuendo was a jarring wake-up call as to what it would be like working in an office, in a company and in an industry that predominantly employs men.
But she was just as shocked at her friend’s silence.

“I didn’t react. I should’ve said something,” Mathews reflects. “But he was aware of that and he didn’t say anything. He didn’t stand up for me or say, ‘Hey that’s not cool.’ He just apologized that it happened to me afterwards.”
Mathews’ experience isn’t an isolated case, and, sadly, it’s not the worst. Dealing with everything from gender-biased hiring practices to sexual assault to skepticism about their abilities, women in male-dominated workplaces often have to fight for both their livelihoods and their lives. But in tech-focused disciplines like engineering and programming, the problem has become especially pronounced.

According to figures released in March 2017 by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women made up only 26 percent of the computing workforce in 2016. Even worse, women who were not white held only ten percent of those jobs in the same year, with black women at three percent, Asian women at five percent and Hispanic women at two percent.

With figures like those, women are easily outnumbered by men when building an app or coding a company’s sales systems. And when those men — who usually are heterosexual and white — occupy most of both the leadership and worker-bee positions, the culture often becomes hostile to women, inadvertently or not.

Pool tables, basketball hoops, Nerf guns and video games are among the office comforts you’ll find in startups in Silicon Valley and, yes, St. Louis. Meanwhile, restrooms often are missing basics like tampons or even soap. Clients assume that women are office managers instead of lead programmers. A pregnancy announcement becomes a minefield, with possibilities like no family leave policy, loss of investors or a perception that pregnant employees don’t work hard enough all looming on the horizon.

And, as the news has shown us recently, the “bro” atmosphere can go well beyond office gadgets and basic inequality.

In 2015, engineer Kelly Ellis alleged through a tweetstorm and in subsequent news stories that executives at Google, her previous employer, had behaved inappropriately and cultivated a “boy’s club” culture. She said that her reports to HR were dismissed.

And earlier this year, Susan Fowler, an engineer who had worked at ride-sharing behemoth Uber, leveled multiple allegations of sexual harassment against her former company, disclosing that male employees regularly sent her lewd messages and requests for sex. She also said that her supervisors retaliated against her with bad performance reviews after she had repeatedly told human resources about the incidents. Since Fowler made her allegations public, additional women have come forward with their own stories about Uber.

If women are only going to be distrusted, marginalized and harassed like this, why would they even want to go into the tech industry in the first place?

 

Uh, they don’t.

A National Center for Women & Information Technology study shows that only 23 percent of the high school students who took the AP Computer Science test in 2016 were women. It’s the same story at the college level where, in 2015, 16 percent of the computer science bachelor’s degree recipients at major research universities were women; in contrast, that figure was 37 percent in 1985.

Can the trend be reversed? Could an influx of kick-ass professional women change the unbalanced, often-toxic coder culture? And if so, how will those women find their way into tech leadership positions or even to the industry at all, since younger women are showing their aversion?

One of the answers may lie with programs like CoderGirl, an initiative from the St. Louis nonprofit LaunchCode that’s determined to address the gender gap in tech and create a pipeline of talented female programmers. Through CoderGirl’s year-long program, participants of all ages, backgrounds and income levels learn essential coding skills while working on projects in a non-toxic, collaborative, woman-friendly environment. Women who successfully complete CoderGirl training may apply for LaunchCode apprenticeships with local big-name companies or explore other opportunities for full-time work in programming.

“It gives women the opportunity to just jump in right away, rather than having to work through that uncomfortableness,” CoderGirl director Crystal Martin says of the program’s inclusive female-friendly space. “It’s enough to get women to take that first step, get them in the door and to a place where they can thrive.”

The initiative seems to be working so far; since 2014, more than 600 CoderGirls have completed the program. (Worth noting: 58 percent of the 165 women in the current cycle are women of color.) At least 56 women who have completed the CoderGirl program have since moved into tech employment. A recent reimagining of the program from a casual meetup format to a more formal class structure portends continued growth and job placements.

And mentors are a huge part of CoderGirl’s success. Six previous CoderGirl participants have returned to the program as mentors on a consistent basis, with a few others dropping by to help when their schedules allow. As professional women with expertise in specific programming languages and skills, CoderGirl’s mentors work one-on-one with participants to not only teach, but also to directly empower.

“It’s not just about getting women jobs in tech; it’s also about building a network and a workforce of women who can support each other in whatever situations they’re in,” says Martin. “On a larger scale, programs like CoderGirl can have an impact.”

Mathews, who now serves as a CoderGirl mentor, says that she often discusses with her mentees the gender- and identity-based hardships that await in some tech environments. She notes that CoderGirl’s speaker series brings in female industry leaders and provides a framework for mentors to have honest discussions with learners in a comfortable environment.

“I don’t think we explicitly make a point to talk about it, but because you come there after your work day, you bring those experiences and debrief with people. I’m very open and vulnerable about my experiences,” Mathews says. “I think everyone in the space is learning from everyone’s experiences on that.

“I think it’s the multiplier effect: The more it’s all talked about, the more women you meet, the more you support women. It should just blossom,” continues Mathews. “Thinking of those male-dominated cultures, the only way to take them down is infiltrate; if you keep bringing women along with you, eventually something will have to change.”

When she was a young girl in India, Ashwina Dodhyani had her mind set on becoming a fashion designer. Her family — who viewed doctors, lawyers and engineers among the only truly worthy occupations, she says — had other plans.

“My brother pushed me to take computer science as a major in college because I was really good at math and had good analytical skills,” Dodhyani says. “You know, it was hard, if I’m being honest. But it was four years and then I thought, no I don’t hate this; this is what I want to do for my career.”

Today, Dodhyani is a business systems analyst for a technology integrator in St. Louis, as well as a mentor with the CoderGirl program. She recalls that she later took her brother’s advice again, applying to graduate schools and ultimately moving to the U.S. to continues her computer science studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“I think that was when I got really interested in computer science, because it was more practical. My undergrad wasn’t like that; it was a lot of theory and I definitely did not enjoy that as much,” Dodhyani says.

But Dodhyani is an outlier; many other women are pushed away from tech interests even before they realize it’s happening. No matter if it’s kids making fun of geeky pursuits or adults steering women toward careers that are perceived as more “feminine,” there’s a notion that something is “wrong” with a young woman with interest or aptitude in programming or mathematics.

One CoderGirl mentor — who asked not to be identified out of fear that her employer would retaliate — says that girls often cannot fathom pursuing an occupation in computer science.

“Whether it’s young girls or women, there’s a lot of fear. They feel like they can’t do it or they don’t have the right aptitude for it,” says the mentor, who is an analyst for a large technology company in St. Louis. “I think they see it as,
‘Oh, boys play with computers, boys play with electronics, so they’re made for that and we’re not made for that.'”

Even after growing up in an encouraging environment and securing a professional coding job while in college, young women still deal with outside skepticism about their interests and capabilities. CoderGirl mentor Jenny Brown says that her “Hogwarts for hackers” boarding school in Illinois nurtured her talents for working on software and servers and fully prepared her for college courses to become a software engineer. Unfortunately, not everybody saw that.

“I encountered a hardcore engineering program that was strongly biased against women. And it was typical that I would sit in a lecture with 300 men and one other woman,” says Brown, who now is a software engineer at a data-driven agricultural company in St. Louis.

Brown remembers asking a male teaching assistant to clarify some class requirements. The aide became defensive, she says, responding with, “If you have to ask questions, maybe this isn’t the right place for you.”

“It wasn’t until later that I had realized he had written the assignment. But when I was seventeen and all I needed was clarification so I could go keep working, that was very discouraging,” Brown says. “At the same time, I was already a professional software engineer working a part-time job outside of school. He had no idea that I’d already been programming for over fifteen years.”

Men doubting women’s abilities doesn’t stop at graduation, the CoderGirl mentors say.

Brown says that with each new tech job, men have assumed that she knew less than she actually did, so she was forced to prove herself again and again, unlike her male counterparts making the same job leap.

“They challenged my decisions, questioned my reasoning for things, made me explain myself more, gave me smaller projects to start with instead of trusting me with the big stuff,” she says. “They were generally just less trustful; I don’t think they even realized it. I think it was so automatic, so unconscious, that they just assumed they were accurately judging me.”

Meanwhile, the anonymous CoderGirl mentor says that she’s faced contradictory assumptions and demands.

“When I first started out in my career, I got feedback saying I’m not assertive enough. At the time, it was probably my first year or second year of working. When I would go to meetings, I didn’t think that I had enough yet to contribute, so I would just try to soak everything in and learn as much as I could,” the mentor says. “But when I got more knowledge and I was more confident, I got that I ‘talk too much.'”

“This is something that I heard through a third person: ‘She’s too passionate.’ I was like ‘Make up your mind, do you want me to be assertive or not?'” the analyst continues. “I just don’t let it bother me. If I know I’m doing the right thing, then I’m going to keep doing it. If people don’t like it, so be it.”

 

Being a woman in a man’s world can be like walking through a minefield. Even something as seemingly simple as choosing clothing for work can become an ordeal. Mathews, who identifies as a queer woman, realized that she began dressing in a more traditionally masculine way partly to deter other people’s thoughts about her body. “I know I definitely felt more equipped to handle anything when I dressed masculine,” Mathews says.

Because Mathews was then a front-end developer at a large aerospace corporation, the attention was frequent and overt, and she grew weary of her male colleagues’ attention.

“I think at that time, I still had a concept of ‘If you dress in a certain way, you’re asking for male attention,’ which is not an ok way to think. But it’s a reality that women deal with. You’re on this balance of ‘I want to be taken seriously but I want to feel confident,'” Mathews says. “And the boys’ club culture definitely existed there. No one realized it was a gender bias thing.”

The anonymous CoderGirl mentor says that she also has experienced perplexing and sexist comments about her looks.

“I had a male coworker tell me one time, ‘Hey, you can see your grey hair, you should really color it.’ I do feel like they pay attention to those things, especially when it’s women,” she says. “The funny thing was, they had grey hair! Why are you telling me?”

And it’s not just seemingly petty matters like clothes and hair. Women in tech simply don’t make as much money as men do or have the same opportunities to advance, something shown in numerous studies.

A study from online compensation information company PayScale shows that men not only dominate all levels of computer-driven companies, but they also make more money by a hefty margin. According to Payscale, there’s a 22 percent difference between what male and female executives in the industry make, with men taking home a median of $174,600 and women collecting $135,500. At the individual contributor level, the pay gap is at about 19 percent, with men making $70,900 and women making just $57,600.

Things are just as bad outside of the tech sector, however, with glass ceilings everywhere. In its study, PayScale says that salary levels off for women at $49,000 when they’re 35 to 40 years old; meanwhile, men level off at $75,000 at age 50 to 55.

In Missouri, things look even worse. According to “The Status of Women in Missouri,” a report prepared in 2016 by the Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri, women here earned $35,759 on average for full-time work in 2015, compared with an average of $49,897 for men. The report also found that black and Hispanic women made only 66.7 percent of what their white male counterparts made in 2015.

The anonymous CoderGirl mentor says that she has missed out on salary increases thanks to company reorganizations and bad processes. Despite being placed into a management role during one shakeup, she says that she wasn’t part of leadership conversations and had a hard time explaining certain high-level decisions to her team. With prodding from upper levels, she offered feedback about the new processes and was told “You should earn your money.”

That’s when things became interesting.

“I had a one-on-one conversation with my manager and asked, ‘What money are they talking about, because I didn’t get a pay raise when I got this promotion.’ My manager was completely shocked and was like, ‘Oh my god, did we not give you a raise?'” the mentor remembers. “I don’t talk about that with other people, so I don’t know if it happened to me because I’m a woman and everybody else was a man, but that was pretty shocking.”

Sexual harassment is a huge reason why women don’t feel welcome in tech, as well as in many other industries. According to a survey titled “The Elephant in the Valley,” women in tech say harassment is one of the biggest things they deal with, with 90 percent of female responders saying that they’ve witnessed sexist behavior at industry events and 65 percent reporting that they’ve received unwanted sexual advances from a superior. Sixty percent of women who reported sexual harassment to their company were dissatisfied with the resolution.

CoderGirl mentor Mathews didn’t report the “John’s nuts” incident to human resources and says that she now regrets it, not knowing if her harasser bothered other women. She kept seeing him around the office, though.

“I was creeped out seeing that guy in the hallways anytime after that, to the point I thought he was following me to my car. I sprinted out of the building or hid in a bathroom where you can see around the corner,” she remembers. “I kept thinking about it after it happened because that stuff doesn’t leave you exactly; you have a body response to it. And part of it was me being in this culture with guys, not wanting to appear weak or like I couldn’t handle that. But at the time being 23 and out of college, something this direct at me in a professional setting had never happened before.”

He wasn’t the only man who made her apprehensive, Mathews says.

“As I would walk through hallways, older men would wink at me, which is just uncomfortable,” she says. “And we had these trailers out back, so it was always in the manufacturing, isolated part. I would go into these trailers highly scared and hoping no one followed me because they were isolated within themselves. That freaked me out anytime that happened.”

But sometimes it’s not even the big stuff that gets to you, the mentors say. Brown says that her former male colleagues often named servers after male-centered films like Top Gun, so she reminded them about how alienating that was to women who needed to work on those servers.

And Mathews remembers when coworkers gendered the office salsa bar, joking that they should label hot ones for men and mild ones for women. “I was like, why? Why would you say that? Do you think that something spicy improves your strength?” Mathews wonders.

Still, good workplaces do exist. That’s true even in tech. For Brown, she had to change jobs to find one — but she says it’s made all the difference.

“I wanted a place that was supportive and welcoming to women,” Brown says. At her new company, she says, “I found women in leadership in various levels, especially in middle to higher leadership. I found women scientists who were being celebrated for their scientific work and their data science work. I found cross-training between teams and a real, true support for work-life balance. So all the pieces were there.”

Mathews also had to change jobs to find her happy place. Realizing that she was never going to feel appreciated at the aerospace company, Mathews desperately needed a break from the suffocating “brogrammer” environment and craved something engaging and meaningful. She chose to empower student athletes by coaching women’s basketball at her alma mater DePauw University and teaching mathematics at a nearby women’s prison.

“Going to a prison to teach math seems like a weird experience, but I have never found more motivated students in my life,” Mathews remembers.

With her enthusiasm and direction refreshed after two years, Mathews returned to the programming world in St. Louis, eventually landing her current dream job as a developer at a local innovation agency. Five months in, Mathews can’t imagine being anywhere else.

“I’m going to give props to the head of the company: He really cares about his employees, and he wants to have fun at work and work hard,” Mathews says. “He’s super protective, wants everyone to feel safe and wants everyone to be able to enjoy each other at work and maintain this culture of inclusion. He’s created a great environment.”

Brown says that having women and supportive allies throughout all levels of the company means that they can influence the culture, removing the barriers that female employees must traditionally surmount.

“It is a tremendous difference in a professional opportunity to have a place that is supportive,” Brown says. “Women can get comfortable talking technology because they’re in a supportive environment that inherently trusts them. They don’t have to prove themselves, they just have to show up and learn. So they get a chance to build an identity for themselves as technologists that’s not challenged by all of this cultural bias.”

Dodhyani began mentoring through CoderGirl with a goal to help put more women into the tech workforce and encourage new coders to seek out leadership opportunities. She had learned about the program through a friend and immediately connected with its mission.

“I reached out to Crystal [Martin], and when I got there, I became really excited because I saw all these women trying to learn how to code,” Dodhyani says. “I want them to feel empowered, really. I don’t think this has an end, meaning you can’t stop learning; just because you finish the CoderGirl program or just because you’ve got another job where you’re programming, it’s not going to end there.”

As for Brown, she says she’s encouraged by her mentees’ determination, openness and curiosity.

“I remind them that nobody knows everything; just keep learning and gaining skills,” Brown says. “Practice talking about tech, using the vocabulary fluently, and get good at explaining your ideas, so that you feel like you belong. We do some whiteboard coding exercises ahead of interviews, and we practice describing code and code ideas during informal code reviews and goal planning. Many women come out of their shell during this process, and it’s a joy to see them light up with ideas, questions and confidence.”

Mathews, who previously went through CoderGirl’s parent program LaunchCode before later returning as a CoderGirl mentor, agrees. She says she works hard to help her learners feel secure in the skills that they gain in their inclusive, women-only space before heading out to apprenticeships and full-time employment.

“I think there’s a shared struggle among women all over the spectrum, but seeing each other struggle is empowering,” says Mathews. “Having visibility of the people running the program who are on the queer spectrum or Crystal being a bad-ass woman of color leading the whole thing, I think she really advocates for the diverse space that it is. It’s amazing.”

Ultimately, that shared struggle is what draws the mentors to CoderGirl. Having walked their own difficult paths through the tech industry, they can’t help but want to make it a bit easier for the new army of women who code.

“This is meaningful because I spent so long alone as a child and even into my early career days as the only woman doing it,” says Brown of programming. “When I would try to talk with people and friends about it, they didn’t understand; there was just no connection.

“So this was a chance to bring in more women in a field that desperately needs them and give folks the opportunity to succeed. It feels good to be able to help them in a way that I wish I could have had and to know how much of a difference it really makes in their lives.”

Weekly Round Up 4/14


“Brogrammers” is my new favorite word.

HOW ONE TECH START-UP DITCHED ITS BROGRAMMERS

 

 

Innovation is tough when you no longer have visionary leadership.
Apple Inc. Reportedly Struggling With New Touch ID Tech. Cutting-edge innovation is tough to bring into mass production.

 

 

Oh, Etsy. Don’t you know climate change is just a hoax?
How Etsy Built The Greenest Office Space In Tech

 

 

If only there was an App that would castrate men who hit women. Time to innovate, Apple.
‘I had minutes to make the call’: the tech helping domestic abuse survivors.

 

 

This is not a partisan issue, to me. This is a basic right.
Tech lobby goes to bat on net neutrality

 

 

Will it blend? No. Will it be an 11th hour act of desperation by two sinking mega ships? Absolutely.
Will it blend? Oath will combine disparate AOL-Yahoo ad tech assets

 

 

I think Fitbit has played itself right out of the game.
Fitbit’s new smartwatch has been plagued by production mishaps

WIT: Women in tech are still an undervalued pipeline for innovation

 

 

 

by Allyson Kapin (@WomenWhoTech), Craig Newmark (@craignewmark) of Tech Crunch

Women tech founders face an uphill battle getting in front of VCs and raising money. That’s true in Silicon Valley, which still has the look of a college fraternity, and it’s true in tech hubs like London, Berlin and Amsterdam. It’s bad for women; and it’s equally bad for the tech industry, because the exclusion of female talent and leadership inhibits innovation and growth.

The gender gap in tech is widening globally; only 10 percent of investor funding goes to women-led ventures. And as few as 10 percent of positions at leading tech companies are occupied by women.

Europe shows the same trends we see in the Valley: booming growth, but disproportionate numbers of women in leadership and meager VC investment in women-led startups. In the U.K., the second-largest European startup hub after Berlin, male entrepreneurs are 86 percent (almost always) more likely to receive VC funding than their female counterparts and 56 percent more likely to secure angel investment. Tech is supposed to be a meritocracy, but it’s unfortunately still more like a “mirrorocracy.”

With the funding odds stacked against them, it’s not a surprise that only a little less than 15 percent of European startups are founded by women entrepreneurs, who must turn to self- funding or even crowdfunding to survive.
Now consider this: VC-backed women-led tech firms bring in 12 percent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. And their ROI is a whopping 35 percent higher. When they get support, women leaders in tech not only do well, they excel. That’s true on a global scale.

How does fair access to funding sources for women entrepreneurs translate to the broader economy? It’s estimated that in the U.K. alone, if every single woman who wanted to start her own business had the support to make that possible, it would immediately produce 340,000 new businesses and support 425,000 new jobs.

We know that funding women-led startups leads to better products and innovation that consumers and businesses want. We know that women-led ventures have strong ROI.

Most funding networks are often old boys’ clubs. But more women-led investor firms like BB Ventures, Kapor Capital and Backstage Capital in the U.S. and Allbright in the U.K. are demonstrating to the VC world what it looks like it be intentional about funding game-changing diverse ventures.

Another shift we’re seeing is the rise in the sheer number of women-led startups. In fact, in the last 18-months we’ve seen close to 2,000 early-stage women-led ventures apply to Women Who Tech’s Women Startup Challenge across the U.S. and Europe. Some of these startups are breaking the mold with ideas that could have major impact all over.

To keep the pipeline flowing with remarkable new product ideas, the tech and VC community needs to be intentional about opening the doors (beyond the usual suspects) and providing support to upstart women-led ventures.
After all, the founder of the next “unicorn” may just be that talented “she.”

So broaden your search and find her startup.

Weekly Round Up 3/31

 

 

She’s gonna make it after all…
These are the 5 Best Cities for women in tech.


I take my job as a fur baby parent very seriously.

How to Use Technology to Outsource Pet Care


I’m gonna file this under “Duh!”
Russia used tech, fake news to influence US election, expert tells Senate Intelligence committee.


Tesla Roof for the win!

Best tech gadgets in March 2017

This is why we can’t have nice things.

U.S. Senate Votes To Repeal Obama-Era Internet Privacy Rules

I’m posting this subject twice to emphasize my outrage at our representatives selling our privacy and data to the highest bidder. Karma’s a b*tch and I cannot wait to see how she evens the score with them.

Congress Votes to Allow Broadband Providers to Sell Your Data Without Your Permission

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: