All The Startup Ladies
XX in Tech
Much has been made of tech’s gender divide, with the seeming consensus being that this industry is something of a sausagefest and no one knows how to fix it. But buried within this TechCrunch report, drawing on statistics from Startup Genome, is an eye-catching little factoid: Compared to Silicon Valley and London (which are running at 80:20 versus 90:10 ratios), New York has almost double the rate of female founders.
On The Calendar
For a lifelong perfectionist overachiever, 36-year-old Marissa Mayer (known in some circles as Google employee no. 20), is rather adept at projecting an aura of relatability. Pro-tip: it never hurts to pepper your tales of 130-hour work weeks with verbatim quotes from High Fidelity. Of course, as the longtime friendly public face–sweeter than the acerbic Mr. Schmidt, less aspy than Larry–of a $212 billion company like GOOG, she’s had some practice.
That easy demeanor was on full display at the 92nd Street Y Tuesday night, when Ms. Mayer stopped by for an hour-and-a-half Q&A session with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel, who pointed out that her latest job title, “VP, Local, Maps & Location Services,” made it sound like she worked at AAA.
To give the Upper East Side crowd some idea of Ms. Mayer’s celebustatus in Silicon Valley, Mr. Tyrangiel pointed out that a YouTube loop of her unusual laugh, which sounds kinda like a guffaw being sucked through a vacuum, has been viewed a quarter of a million times. “They’ve also made it into a ringtone!” Ms. Mayer noted gleefully. But Mr. Tyrangiel needn’t have worried. In line for tickets, one heavily-perfumed older woman ticked off a list of influential projects Ms. Mayer has helped define since she started there in 1999: Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail.
XX in Tech
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (a.k.a. “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder of GarysGuide, mentor at ER Accelerator and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over forty red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.org.
So, last week NY Mag wrote an article titled Bubble Boys which takes a look at some of the young upcoming hackers & coders (future Mark Zuckerbergs) in Silicon Valley. While the piece itself was pretty interesting, one thing gave me pause. No girl hackers or coders were profiled. Not to give author Christopher Beam a hard time as this probably was just an inadvertent omission, cuz surely there must be at least one profile-worthy hacker girl in the valley. Hopefully he’s working on fixing that flub. :)
Meanwhile, I thought this is as good a time as any to shine the spotlight on some amazing folks in the NY tech scene who are working tirelessly to help bring more women into the startup and tech world, cuz while the ratio is improving, it still isn’t where it needs to be quite yet. These include Sara Chipps and Vanessa Hurst of Girl Develop IT, Rachel Sklar and Emily Gannett of Change The Ratio, Adriana Gascoigne and Tommy Jenkins of Girls In Tech NYC, Nelly Yusupova of Webgrrls NYC, Tania Yuki and Jamie Lee of Women in Media, Shaherose Charania of Women 2.0 and Founder Labs, Janet Hanson of 85 Broads, Anna Akbari and Nicole Skibola of Womens Collaborative NYC, Stephanie Hanbury-Brown and Peggy Wallace of Golden Seeds, Angie Grabski of Step Up Womens Network NYC, Cindy Gallop of If We Ran The World and many many more. If I’ve missed any, lemme know.
XX in Tech
In the latest issue of the New Yorker, Ken Auletta tackles Silicon Valley’s stubborn gender divide through the prism of one of its most high-profile outliers: Sheryl Sandberg. Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, has been a popular profile subject of late as Facebook braces for its IPO, beefs up its lobbying efforts in Washington, and contemplates venturing into China. Of course, Ms. Sandberg’s stints near the top of Google’s troika and in the Treasury Department also put her at the nexus of the business and politics and the old guard’s battle for relevance against socially-minded upstarts.
Mr. Auletta traces Ms. Sandberg’s ascendance from Larry Summers chief of staff to making Google’s AdWords profitable to making Facebook, which was hemorraging cash when she joined in 2008, profitable. There is some skepticism given as to whether the model for female assertiveness put forth in Ms. Sandberg’s popular TED Talk on the lack of women leaders is replicable. Critics argue that without a powerful sponsor like Mr. Summers willing to go to bat for you or the luxury of childcare when needed, the business world is still not meritocracy where fearlessness is rewarded.
Regardless, the portrait of an exceptional organizer, communicator, and leader emerges. And yet, despite all those shards of glass ceiling at her feet, one role has still eluded Ms. Sandberg.
Women in the start-up world are outnumbered by men—we know this—and most of them tend to be later-stage employees in support roles, like marketing, public relations and office management.
But we’ve noticed a trend in the New York tech scene: a strong surge of women in tech who are, well, just doing it. They’re starting companies without worrying about how male-dominated the VC-funded web start-up space is. They live and breathe the scene the way their male counterparts do, and many are just as rash, obnoxious and aggressive.
Some of them are working to bring more women into tech, but mostly they choose to ignore the industry’s male-dominated tradition altogether, shrugging off the threat of sexism. Many seem not to notice when they’re pitching to a room full of men; some notice, and don’t care, or notice and care, but do it anyway.
These women are the future angel investors, powerhouse VCs, public company CEOs and start-up mafiosa. For now they’re working 100-hour weeks and organizing events via Meetup.com, but–every day–they’re hustling. Here’s a predictive power list of 25 women to watch in New York.
Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke, Olivia Fialkow and Emily Foxhall contributed reporting.
The absence of women in tech is not really news, but since it remains a Situation, it’s worth hammering away at.
This morning we wrote about the lack of women at the top positions at Twitter, Facebook, Zynga and Groupon, arguably the biggest four companies on the social Web.
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