Tag

equal opportunity

Equality, Leadership

It’s time for economic equality for women: WE2

Sometimes it’s just time. I am more deeply convinced now in 2018, than ever before, that the long-term path to a more sane, peaceful world is equality for women in society. The research is conclusive. Investing in girls and women transforms economies, and healthy, growing economies are more peaceful. But I am not a politician, I am not a Sociologist, I am a tech executive and so I need to practice what I know in order to do my part.

Women, and men, need to invest in women. Invest in education, opportunity, and advice. Put the time, focus and effort in to help women build businesses and careers that give them independence and equality so they can themselves invest in their society. And no more so than in the places where peace and hope and dignity are a daily challenge. Even in Israel, second only to Silicon Valley in startup funding, the statistics for women entrepreneurs are crushingly low.

I held a Salon at our home in the heart of Silicon Valley last Summer on Women Led Startups in Israel and Palestine (I choose different topics of interest to my  network of  SV women 3-4 times a year). The evening was a panel of four women in our garden: two entrepreneurs from Israel, one from Gaza and a Mercy Corps board member who has been focused on Palestine – followed by a discussion and Q&A. It was dramatic, inspiring and very thought provoking. The challenges of building a business as a woman in Silicon Valley have nothing on doing it in the Near East!

WE2 – Women for Economic Equality – was born from that evening. In a moment of passion I asked for volunteers to come with me to mentor women in Palestine and Israel and as a result we now have a delegation of Silicon Valley executive women visiting Tel Aviv, Gaza, Jerusalem and Ramallah in January.

It’s a mentoring delegation. We have a broad set of experiences between us as entrepreneurs, leaders, engineers, lawyers, recruiters and product designers and plenty of experiences, good and bad, to share. Together we believe women achieving economic equality is essential for sustainable peace. We’ll be meeting with female entrepreneurs, executives, VCs, board directors and business leaders, and supported by partners on the ground in each location. We’ll hold panels and small group mentoring sessions, one-on-one coaching and business plan reviews; we’ll share our career learnings and listen to the experiences and resource needs of the women we meet. And we’ll do it in the three, very different, regions of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We are not political, we just want to invest in women.

Hopefully this is the first of many to different parts of the world where women want to build economic independence (so ping me if you want to participate in the future). And if you want to follow us you’ll find updates on this blog, and on my social media.

Equality

My life is not a sausage factory

Yes high tech is still dominated by men – but it doesn’t have to be.

In Kara Swisher’s hilarious keynote speech at the Women of Vision dinner last week she said “my life is a sausage factory” referring to the predominance of men in the high tech industry. Kara reigns supreme in the world of tech journalism so she’s talking with men, and writing about men, most of the time. She’s a kick – outspoken, whip smart and fearless – had me in stitches.

She’s right though. There is an unhealthy focus on young men right now with the talk of “brogramming” and the frat house culture — probably about to be celebrated in Bravo’s new reality TV show Silicon Valley. I’m willing to bet anyone a dollar that the new show will stereotype women as a) young, pretty and in media, b) arm candy for partying with or c) if smart, then ugly.

But real technology companies do not have to be like that.

My life is distinctly not a sausage factory because FirstRain has women throughout it’s leadership – and what may be unique is that the CEO (me) and the COO (YY) are both women and mathematicians. Now this was not by design – it is simply a result of being open to women as tech leaders, and hiring the best person for the job.

Frankly when building a company having the best person for the job is the only thing that matters. The best person means the intellect, the experience, the creativity, the skills and the cultural fit to build a great solution. We don’t have enough women coming into the pipe today (hence the need for non-profits like the Anita Borg Institute who threw the dinner Kara spoke at) but even with the 20% women CS graduates we do have you can find great female software architects and engineers if you are open to them.

YY and I have worked together on and off for 20 years. We’re both mathematicians, both have programmed, both worked in marketing for a while. YY’s a deep nerd, mother of 3 with her wife Kate, and the best person I could have hired to run the technical teams at FirstRain. Our VP technology is male (Marty), one of our two lead architects is male (one of our founders), the other is female – again we were gender blind when hiring but sought world class talent. Our managing director in India is a female engineer (Aparna), promoted from the engineering ranks because she was the best person to lead what has developed into a truly world-class software engineering and analytics team.

So we have ended up with a management team that is about half female, the women are on both the technical and business sides of the house and I am very (unreasonably?) proud of that. And I’d like us to find more female engineers among the applicants for our open San Mateo and Gurgaon software engineering jobs. Give me a mixed grill any day.