Tag

women in tech

Equality

Technology, Women and Equity at the 2014 Grace Hopper Conference

Guest post from YY Lee, my business partner and COO of FirstRain

I am proud of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (@ghc) community this week for raising important issues and grappling with uncomfortable, difficult-to-solve questions.

I appreciate FirstRain’s own Penny Herscher (@pennyherscher) for putting herself out there to moderate the Male Allies Panel, despite the concerns going-in about how to constructively include that perspective.  The fiery reaction to that session raised
the level of engagement around deep-seated systemic equity issues in
our industry in a way that would not have been achieved otherwise.  And
in Penny’s usual way — she engaged those issues head-on, in direct personal and online exchanges with the men & women, leadership & grassroots members of the community.

Satya Nadella’s wrong-headed comment the next morning  (as he has acknowledged),
underscored the complacency and problems around gender-equity issues,
even among the thoughtful and well-intentioned.  This forced the
realization that this is not an simply an issue of perception,
interpretation or over-reaction. But will require a real introspection
and major change — even from colleagues and leaders who are confident
they are already totally on-board and acting as allies for equity.
This was the near-perfect opportunity, timing and forum to
examine the truth.  It is remarkable that even given the charged
emotions around this,  the discussion started relatively politely, and
besides excessive piling on, it remained safe — this in stark contrast
to the ugly violent targeting has been simultaneously unfolding around GamerGate.  Which only further highlights the reality of the technology industry’s toxic differences in how men and women are treated.

It is too bad that before Nadella’s KarmaGate comment, he stated one of my favorite quotes of the whole conference — summing up why I’ve loved doing this work, nearly every day for over two decades: 
“[We work with] the most malleable of our resources, software… That’s the rich canvas that we get to shape… paint…”  -Satya Nadella
He nailed it.  He put his finger on that the one thing
that probably links all the men and women in that event.  This is a
deep-thinker who understands the heart of matters, which is what made
his later comment so doubly surprising and disheartening.
I am encouraged to see the after-effects like Alan Eustace trying to do things differently.
 And honest conversations with ABI executives about their awareness and
struggle with the impossible balance of growing their reach and impact
while containing the inevitable, unintended side effect of corporate
co-opting.
To all of you “good guys who do care” — Satya, Alan,
Mike Schroepfer, Blake Irving, Tayloe Stansbury — less patronizing talk
is nice, listening is refreshing, but which of you and your companies
is going to commit to results?

==> Here my question to all the “good guys” out there as well as my fellow female leaders:  Who is going to set and deliver specific targets
for ratios of women and minorities that reflect the real population —
in technical leadership by a specific date… 2016? 2017? Who is going to
hack their orgs & companies to solve this problem,
rather than running feel-good, look-good “programs”?

The Grace Hopper Celebration is an inspiring, important
and high-quality gathering in an industry that is littered with mediocre
PR-flogging events.  
  • The technical and career presentations are given by
    presenters who truly care about their audience and strive to offer a
    valuable, nutritious exchanges — not just advance some commercial
    agenda.
  • The leaders remind us of how our work is linked to important broader social dynamics outside of our privileged community. The ABI exec responsible for this conference, introduced the eye-opening Male Allies Panel with a personal reminder about about how social change is about connecting across communities:

“The Asian community owes a lot to the black community. They opened a lot of doors for us [in the fight for equality].” -Barb Gee

  • From early mornings until late into the night, it was a
    surround-sound ocean of substantive discussions between old friends,
    colleagues and strangers about leading-edge technical work, honest and
    vulnerable personal experiences, deep examinations of culture,
    inclusiveness, safety, aspirations and disappointments.
  • There is a natural balance of empowering women create change
    in themselves and their environments. While calling out that real change
    is impossible without the corporations, managers and executives, and
    yes the men who make up 80% of our co-workers, to fully own making that
    change with us.

I’m not going to end this post with some rah-rah “just go get
’em girls!” trope. Because the women technologists are already out there
— delivering effort, innovation and results at 120% while receiving
70%… 80%… (to be wildly optimistic) of the recognition and reward.

I will share just one final favorite conference quote, which is how this gathering makes me feel every time I attend:

“… at #GHC14… Just not enough space to desc. Wow. Much women. So much brain” -@michelesliger

It is our industry and companies that need to be fixed, not the women in it.
I have to believe it is becoming increasingly obvious to our leaders,
managers and co-workers that under-valuing this incredibly intellectual
resource is idiotic, bad business, and just plain wrong.

– YY Lee (@thisisyy), COO of FirstRain

Equality

Don’t Cat Call to Me – I’m Too Busy!

Really, what are you thinking?

I was walking to work this morning when a man in a car calls out to me “Hey Baby, what are you doing? Nice dress! Hey come over and talk to me. I’ll give you a ride…” and more. I shake him off, try to ignore him, but he’s rolling down his other window, leaning across, calling out what he obviously thinks are smart and endearing comments about my person.

It’s ridiculous, and I am sure ineffective 99.9999% of the time, unless responding to calls like that was my business. Given how conservatively I typically dress, surely it’s obvious I’m not going to respond?

I was raised to be polite, and when a man gets particularly aggressive I also don’t feel safe, so I don’t do what I would like to do which is walk over and give him a piece of my mind about how to treat total strangers on the street – and just how busy I am since it’s a Wednesday morning, and I have a thousand things I have to deal with at the office – give me a break!

Given how annoying I find cat calls, this video on what the world could look like if women cat called men tickled my funny bone. Enjoy!

Leadership

5 Keys to Authentic Leadership

From a talk I gave at VMware in Palo Alto earlier this month

Leadership comes in many styles – charismatic, intellectual, bullying – but in all cases leadership is hard to sustain over time unless it is authentic. Real. Genuine. These 5 keys are from a woman’s perspective, but most apply just as much to men.


1. Embrace making decisions. 

Not only embrace them, but have confidence in how you make decisions. I’m a fast, intuitive decision maker. I make a decision on minimal visible information and then use data to check my decision. This means I cannot be afraid to be wrong and change my decision, but I will make it in my head, whether I like it or not.

For a long time, I thought that my method of decision making was in some way bad. Shortcut, or lazy but not a studied, analysis based approach which is what “smart” people do. I doubted myself and did not feel authentic about my own decision making! Until I read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

As I read Blink I gradually realized that I was not crazy, but my method of decision making is actually very human. We have evolved to make snap decisions on limited amounts of data – some visible to us, some not – and when you can tap into that skill and embrace it is an advantage! But you do need to keep one ear open and keep listening to additional information as it comes in so you can course correct if you need to.

Embrace your decisions and be real about your decision making process. Don’t pretend otherwise – even if you’ve been taught it’s not ladylike to be assertive. If it’s your decision make it; if it’s someone else’s support them. Be direct.  It takes guts to make big decisions, but it’s what leaders do.

2. Don’t ask “whether”, ask “when”

This is an area where men typically differ from women. There are many studies now that show that men will ask for promotion before they are ready, whereas women will wait until they are over qualified to put themselves forward for promotion. I believe, if you have a goal, it’s really important that you communicate that goal out to your leadership confidently. Don’t think about whether you’ll get a promotion or a big opportunity, think about when you’ll get it. Talk with your management about what you want, and ask for their help to get you there.

American Express used this understanding of how women wait to change the demographics at the top of their company. They won the ABI Top Company for Technical Women in 2012 and when Yvonne Schneider accepted the award she spoke of how AmEx proactively trained their male managers to reach down into the organization and ask women to apply for promotions, often before they would have done it naturally themselves. As a result, women moved up into management alongside of men, and the top of AmEx was changed. AmEx didn’t ask whether, they asked when and reached down.

I knew I wanted to be a CEO after I had been working a few years. And being verbal, I talked about it with my network. With the coaches and VCs whom I was getting to know. And as a result I got told all the reasons I was not ready and the education and experience I needed to get to be ready. It was invaluable, and included my company Synopsys sending me to the Stanford Executive MBA to learn about finance and management (since all my formal training was in mathematics). Had I not spoken out about “when I’m a CEO” I would never have got the smack down and been told to learn about running a P&L first, which was the best advice I could have received at the time!


3. Learn to Act As If

You might think that learning to act is in contradiction to being authentic, but I find it’s a part of the process. There are so many situations where I have had to learn to act as if I belong, even though I am the odd man out (so to speak). For many years I went to Japan every 4-6 weeks for business meetings with my customers. In 6 years I was never, ever in a meeting in Japan with another woman. The only women I met were tea ladies. And through that experience I learned to act like a man. I was treated as an honorary male. I learned to drink whiskey late at night in small Osaka bars, and eat food that was still moving, and most of all, never show traditional female traits. That made me effective, and over time my behavior became natural and authentic to me.

And just a few weeks ago I went to a dinner in Palo Alto for 100 CEOs and I was the only woman in the room. By now I’ve learned to “act as if”. As if it’s not odd being alone in a crowded room and relax. That allows me to be authentic in the moment.

4. Balance is a myth

I’ve written and spoken about this many times here and here. I spoke about it again at VMware. We’re in a competitive industry. We’re competing on a global scale. It’s important to decide what matters to you at any point in time, and focus on that. Balance doesn’t win intense market share fights or create dramatic innovation. 

And sometimes you just have to let go and be human. Like the time my son broke his arm on the last day of the quarter. This story always gets a laugh… because it’s true!

5. Laughter is the best weapon

Gender discrimination is all around us, all the time. Some days I think it’s getting better, some days when I see the games being played in the San Francisco tech startup world I think nothing’s changed, but my approach remains the same: when it happens to you keep a sense of humor. It’s hard for men to discriminate if you are humorous in your response, and it help you keep your head on straight and not get mad.

One day, when I was a CEO, I was at the beginning of a meeting with a group of investment bankers who did not yet know my company. We had not yet introduced ourselves and one of the group knocked over a diet Coke. Without missing a beat the banker turned to me and said “sweetie can you clean that up?” I smiled, went to kitchen for paper towel, came back, cleaned up, went and washed my hands, came back, reached out my hand to the banker and with a big smile said “Hello, my name is Penny, I am the CEO”.

One evening, I was at a dinner with people I did not know, at a table of men. During dinner I felt a hand on my knee, creeping under my napkin suggestively. I leaned towards the man whose hand it was, gave him a big smile, lifted his hand up and put it back on his lap and said “no thankyou”.

I have a thousand stories like that, and I have found humor defuses almost any situation. Especially if you are a leader in the group. If someone discriminates against you it is rare that it is overtly intentional. And if you can, try to work with men who have wives who work or daughters. Your humor will make them catch themselves and think about what they are doing.

In the end effective, authentic leadership is all about results. Being authentic means you are focused on the real, the now and reaching the end in mind. You don’t get caught up in what people think about you – instead you try to be your most complete self in the moment – and so be effective.

Career Advice

Ask the provocative question in a job interview: Do you have kids?

I love to ask the question “do you have children?” in a job interview. What!? you think to yourself – didn’t she go to training on what questions not to ask??? Well there’s a method to my madness…

If you’ve been through interview training then you know there are a set of questions you are told not to ask like are you married? do you have children? are you thinking of having children? how old are you? etc.

You may have been told that it is illegal to ask these questions in a job interview because you might discriminate against a candidate as a result of their answer: their sexual preference, whether they have little kids, whether they might get pregnant, do they like American football etc.

But it’s not true. Asking the question is not illegal. What is illegal is to discriminate based on the answer. A subtle but powerful difference. Your lawyers trained you to keep you and the company out of trouble, not to teach you how to recruit the best and brightest.

It’s actually important to know some of the private life of your candidates because life interferes with people’s ability to do their job in many more ways than you’ve been trained not to ask about, or the law protects, and how your company reacts when it does says a lot about whether the candidate should want to work with you or not.

When your parent gets cancer and slowly dies that presents a huge challenge to staying fully productive. When you have a bad accident and smash a bone into so many pieces that you have to work from home for months, that can certainly make it hard to focus. When you’re trying to adopt a child from the foster care system and you need to spend days in court fighting for your (soon to be) child’s rights, that means you’re working odd hours and in odd places to stay on top of you job. All experiences we’ve shared at FirstRain, and we’ve got more!

When I meet a candidate I want to know if s/he has children,
or has elderly parents, or has an intense hobby, because I want to tell him or her about our
culture and how much we support and adapt around our people’s needs as
life happens to them.

Life just happens. Babies, sick parents, health issues. And the sign of a strong company culture is one that is adaptable and flexible to help the employee stay engaged and work through whatever challenge comes up, or take time off if that’s what’s needed. It’s important to remember that you cannot make assumptions about how your employee is going to react to the challenge, or what course of action they are going to want to take, but instead to put a team-based system in place so everyone can do their best.

It is true that some older men do still discriminate based on whether women in the workforce have young children, or are likely to have young children, so the lawyers are not all wrong. I recently sat
in a discussion (not in FirstRain!) where a pregnant, very senior
employee’s likelihood to come back to work after her pregnancy was
questioned. But those
older generation views are dying out as the old guard retires or their
daughters successfully work and raise children at the same time.

We’re not naive at FirstRain. Being flexible as life challenges our people doesn’t mean an employee can be distracted from their job indefinitely (we are a for-profit, growing company after all and we probably work harder than most because of high growth rate) but it does mean, from time to time, we have to cover for each other.

So back to interviewing. I want to know if candidates are married, or have little kids, or are thinking of getting pregnant, or adopting. I want to know if they have dogs, or horses, or like to travel. I want to know because we are in a competitive hiring environment, and I want the best people in my company possible. So I want an opportunity to tell them about our culture, and what a great place FirstRain is to work when you have major events in your life, and how supportive we are of raising a family here, and that these are reasons to be a part of your decision to chose FirstRain over any other job you may have today or be considering.

Equality

Wonder Where the Women in Power Are? Look to Silicon Valley

Posted on the Huffington Post March 13, 2013

There is a tectonic shift happening and we’re living the future right now here in technologyland. Women are gaining and holding power at a rate we have never seen before and finally they are openly talking about it.

Sheryl Sandberg’s well-marketed new book Lean In, is stirring up the timely discussion about what it takes for women to get ahead. Sheryl says you need to “lean in,” believe in yourself, and not hold yourself to impossible standards of doing everything; and she’s rightly pointing out that men and our workplaces have to change to make it possible for women to broadly have equal opportunity for leadership.

Sheryl’s saying what those of us who lead technology companies here already live: you have to have confidence, embrace your opportunities and be ready to not get hurt by the “likability gap” that women in power face. Her situation is particularly fortunate in that she joined not one, but two, very high growth opportunities (Google and then Facebook) and so she’s now rich and is taking criticism for telling those less wealthy than her what to do, but hats-off to her that she’s speaking out and putting the issue of gender in leadership onto the national agenda.

But she’s one of many now in Silicon Valley, and not all the stories are as sunny. Women are also taking on some of the hardest turnaround challenges in technology today:

Marissa Meyer stepped up to be CEO of Yahoo! — a challenge so difficult that even a strong product executive with her technical chops may not be able to pull it off. When she stopped employees working from home she was strongly criticized by men and women alike (ironically, often on the grounds of gender equality), and yet she is making the tough business decisions needed to change the Yahoo! culture from one of entitlement to one of growth. If a male CEO had made the same decision it either would have not made the press, or it would have been lauded as a “brave” and “bold” move to turnaround Yahoo!

Meg Whitman has taken on the thankless task of righting HP after a disastrous revolving door of CEOs — not a challenge for the faint of heart — but early indications are she’s going to win and accelerate revenue growth in 2014.
 

Whether you consider Safra Catz, President of Oracle, Diane Bryant, CIO of Intel, or Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, women are winning and holding leadership positions and showing us the future today. And it’s hard not to include Ginni Rometty, the CEO of the technology powerhouse IBM, even though she is not based in Silicon Valley. The fact that these executives are women is a distant second to their ability.

So why is it different here in Silicon Valley for women? There are two fundamental reasons.

1. Generational. Many of our new, fast growth technology companies are run by men, and women, of a younger generation than in other industries. Consider the leadership of Facebook, Google, Salesforce.com, LinkedIn — they are all under 50 and many are under 40. Even Tim Cook of Apple is only 52. Their generation have grown up with women working in their families and so they don’t bring the same prejudice the over 60 generation bring. As a female technology CEO I’ve found the number of times I get asked “what about your kids?” goes down dramatically every year as the peers I work with drop below 60.

2. Technology is a meritocracy. It’s all about how good your product idea, your code, your algorithm is, not your race, gender or whether or not you are gay. And it is especially true in the new generation of tech companies. The competition for talent in the San Francisco Bay Area is ferocious and the competition for market share never lets up, so we simply can’t afford to not hire the best engineers, regardless of gender. We just need more of them.

When Pamela Ryckman was researching her new book Stiletto Network (releasing May 2013) she found that the unique entrepreneurial ecosystem of Silicon Valley has benefited women disproportionately. Instead of rigid organizational structures, Silicon Valley thrives on change: companies come and go, teams form and disband, and so talent gets spotted and adopted regardless of gender.

Companies, and whole industries, are going through disruptive change now as the impact of software increases the power of the individual. The payment industry is being rocked by disruptive changes like Square and Google wallet. Manufacturing is being rocked by 3D printing, making it possible for you and me to manufacture products from our imagination without having to build a factory.

The demands made by the pace of change and fierce competition in our industries do not leave room for gender bias at the top any more. And that’s why more and more women are emerging as leaders and holding power here in Silicon Valley.

P.S. This does not mean women, however, are gaining equality across technology as a whole. We still hold a distant minority of board positions (9.1 percent of board seats in Silicon Valley are held by women) and we still have a dire need for more girls to go in to, and stay in, computer science and technology (less than 18 percent of our CS graduates are girls). The work of non profits like the Anita Borg Institute to coach and encourage female geeks is still essential for the technology industry as a whole.

Equality

Queen Bees or a Stiletto Network?

I was disappointed by the drivel written in the WSJ on Friday The Tyranny of the Queen Bee. It is just not reality, and reinforcing a negative stereotype at the same time. The WSJ should know better.

The thesis is that because there are so few women in power they hang on to the power as Queen Bees and bully other women… “Four decades later, the syndrome still thrives, given new life by the
mass ascent of women to management positions. This generation of queen
bees is no less determined to secure their hard-won places as alpha
females. Far from nurturing the growth of younger female talent, they
push aside possible competitors by chipping away at their
self-confidence or undermining their professional standing. It is a
trend thick with irony: The very women who have complained for decades
about unequal treatment now perpetuate many of the same problems by
turning on their own.”

The referenced research is thin at best, and frankly the behavior described in the article is just not my experience at all. There are so few women at the top in tech that I have found they support each other. Pretty overtly. Not that a woman will promote another woman because of gender, but they will spend time, coach, encourage, and generally put a hand out and say “join me when you’re ready”.

Our reasons are selfish. There are just not enough talented people trained in STEM in our workforce and we need more of them. Helping women get in and stay in technology and tech management is essential for us to be able to grow. We don’t have a scarcity of opportunity – we have a scarcity of trained talent!

Dr Drexler your opinion that “female bosses are expected to be “softer” and “gentler” simply because they are women” is also just not reality in Silicon Valley. I’ve been a Silicon Valley tech executive for more than 25 years now and no one who’s ever worked for me would call me soft. Compassionate when needed, but a hard ass. And I am not unusual – for women in power here I am more the norm.

I’m really looking forward to Pamela Ryckman‘s new book Stiletto Network, coming out in May (you can pre-order it here). Pamela did extensive research over the last year on how executive women help each other. Publishers Weekly just gave it a rave review saying:

“In an upbeat tone and energetic style, we learn how these successful women are coming together in intimate groups, where they embrace fashion, capital structures, and deals. Emboldening, encouraging, and entertaining, this book is essential reading for any woman who wishes to further her career while remaining true to herself.”

Now of course I’m briefly mentioned in it, so in a narcissistic way I think the premis of the book is right (although I have not read it so who knows – maybe I am a Queen Bee – but I doubt it!).

It’s really important now that we talk about the reality of women in power, especially here in tech, and not keep reinforcing the negative stereotypes. Women are a huge, latent force being unleashed. At Dreamforce last year Salesforce.com hosted a Girly Geeks panel which I was on. It was crowded out, more than 1,000 women came and Salesforce had to cut off their own employees to make sure enough of their customers and partners could come. The energy, drive and passion in the room was pallpable.

There is a tidal wave coming of women in power and women helping women. It’s happening!

Image: lollonz.deviantart.com

Equality

Hey Girl, Ask For That Raise!

In the US women make 79 cents on the dollar vs. men, and even in technology, where talent is in very high demand right now, women make 85 cents on the dollar.

But how much of this is self-induced?

I was coaching a Silicon Valley woman last week – she’s 39, a product manager, works for a very successful software company and has been offered a promotion. She wants the job, and thinks it probably comes with more money, but has not asked and is afraid to ask.

This is not unusual. For many women fear holds them back. For many men, they just assume and ask. And this leads to the men, over time, making more money than the women. If talented women were just as demanding as talented men the wage gap would not exist in tech. It might exist in less skilled jobs, but not in the tight tech market.

But the fear is real. What if? What if I ask, what will happen?

My advice is always to think through what is the absolute worst that can happen? Let’s think about this…

You’ve been offered a promotion and you say “great, thank you! what is the base salary and bonus for my new job?”

What is your new manager going to say?
a) how dare you ask you’re fired
b) there’s no raise because it’s a lateral move
c) you’re already at the top of the range so you have to wait for a raise
d) I’ll look into it for you
e) your base is x and in the new job we’ll be offering you 1.2x

No manager worth his/her salt is going to judge you for asking, and if they do you should quit. Your manager is not your friend and you have every right to ask, even if it makes them uncomfortable. In fact if they are not uncomfortable you are probably not being ambitious enough. And even if they respond with (a) you’re better off. You don’t want to work for that turkey anyway.

So don’t just ask, ask about the base, bonus and equity ranges for the new job, and how you’ll be measured so you can excel, and what’s the hardest problem your new manager wants you to solve so you can be working your way up to the next job.

In last week’s debate Mitt Romney responded to a question about what he’d do about gender pay inequity with his now famous line about Binders Full of Women. Never mind that his comments were very misleading and the women’s resumes were brought to him by the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. He also knew women would be cheaper.

Mitt Romney’s offensive remarks are not unusual. His view of women needing to get home in time for the kids and dinner (because that’s women’s work of course) are views I have heard all my career. But we have to be deaf to them and demand equality, and the first step is not to be afraid.

So know the pay ranges for your job and the next promotion. Ask for more money when you think you’ve earned it — because you can be sure the man you’re competing with is asking. And don’t ever get put into a binder!

Photo courtesy of the brilliant Binders Full of Women tumblr

Equality

Why women need sponsors more than mentors

I was on a panel at GHC 2012 last week “Sponsors or Mentors – which will get you there?” Standing room only in a large room, it was clearly a topic of great interest to the female tech students and geeks at the conference. And the questions were priceless…

The panel, lead by Anne Losby of Thomson Reuters,  was prompted by a report Catalyst put out last year on Sponsoring Women to Success. In it the research clearly shows sponsorship is a powerful differentiator at the top and key to overcoming the barriers for women. And while we are making good progress as a gender, and women make up more than 50% of the workforce, they still only make up 3.8% of the CEOs of the Fortune 500. So plenty of room to improve the ratio.

First – do you know the difference? Mentoring has been talked about for
years but talking about sponsorship is a fairly new fashion. Mentoring is about advice and coaching, helping the younger employee figure out the system and skills. My advice to people seeking mentors is seek someone willing to tell you the truth about yourself. Seek someone who will hold the mirror up to you (and your behavior), even is the image is ugly. And a great mentor will put the time in to teach you.

A sponsor, however, is not a mentor. A sponsor has power and the ability to help you get ahead. They know you — strengths and weaknesses, talents and warts — and are ambitious for you. They help you prepare for opportunity by steering you into the right experiences and the right training. They will advocate for you and make the case when you are not in the room for why you should get the next promotion, the next cool project. They win when you win be because the company, and possibly their reputational capital in the company, are stronger when you do.

I experienced this myself in my first 12 years in Silicon Valley. I worked for 2 companies – one for 4 years, one for 8, but was never in the same job more than 21 months. I had two sponsors (although I could not have labeled them as such at the time) who were watching me, grooming me and putting me into opportunities to learn and stretch. Both were men, because back then there were no women in the organization above me. I would not have become a tech CEO at 36 without their sponsorship.

So why is this so important for women?

The tough reality is that women face a double bind. Catalyst research has shown that women who advocate for themselves can be penalized in the workplace. Women get labeled as “aggressive” when the same behavior in a man would be labeled as “assertive”. I’m not complaining, it’s just reality and so sponsors can help women get ahead by advocating for them and helping them avoid the double bind.

Sponsors are also important for women because men tend to know what they want and ask for it, women tend to wait to be asked. There is unconscious sterotyping going on with the men judging the women who do ask, but there is also stereotyping going on by the women who restrict their own behavior. Afraid to appear “pushy” or “too aggressive” they moderate their own behavior to meet the expectation of humility from women.

And this is where the questions lead on the panel. All the discussion, in the end, led to the double bind. How to get ahead and ask for the project, the job, the doctoral research without offending the men around you and being judged? Lots of advice ensued, but in the end I told the group to “Just go for it and course correct when you are in the job. Don’t tap down your natural energy and your drive, we need that in our companies!” Strong women (and men) – apply here.

Equality

Women Computer Scientists – Yes They Exist!

Published earlier today in the Huffington Post

Women are doing some amazing work in Computer Science and
Engineering, how come we don’t know about them? We all know about
the stereotypical hot start-up out of Silicon Valley led by some
twenty-something white guy but we don’t hear much about women
entrepreneurs, computer scientists, researchers and business leaders in
tech. How come?

Is it like the research study recently reported in the New York Times
where a scientifically oriented resume with a women’s name at the top
was consistently rated lower by professors than the exact same resume
with a man’s name? Do women have to be substantially better than men to
get recognized?

Maybe today, but the 7th Annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), going on this week, is all about changing that.

Downtown Baltimore is teeming with technical women today. Three
thousand, six hundred of them! More than 1,500 are students, passionate
about developing new technology, and not afraid to say so just because
they are girls.

And here at the conference they are surrounded by other technical
women who don’t fit the tech frat boy stereotype that Silicon Valley is
so known for, but who instead just set about changing the world of
technology from a diverse point of view.

Consider Lilli Cheng who is GM of the Future Social Experiences
(FUSE) Labs in Microsoft Research. She leads a team who invent, develop
and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home
and work, and she speaking on Creativity, Learning and Social Software.

Or Lori Beer who is the EVP for Enterprise Business Services at
WellPoint and manages over 30,000 people developing new health care
products for you and me, and is speaking today on Transforming Health
care Through Data.

Or Ann Mei Chang who is a Senior Advisor on technology at the State
Department and has the Silicon Valley engineering who’s who on her
resume, including being a Senior Engineering Director at Google. She’s
speaking on Leveraging Mobile and Internet Technology to Improve Women’s
Lives in the Developing World.

Or Nora Denzel, who was both funny and wise in her keynote today, and
has led large, cutting edge software and business teams at IBM, HP and
Intuit, and can go nose to nose with anyone on technology.

Imagine 3,600 confident girly geeks together, mingling with each
other as students and mentors, inventors and developers, investors and
founders. Women working together to change the ratio of women in
technology by recruiting new young women into the field and helping them
stay in the field, despite the odds. Less than 25 percent of the STEM workforce in the U.S. are women, more than 50 percent of women who start in engineering drop out
of technology in the first 10 years of their careers, the numbers of
women graduating in computer science has been dropping over the last 10
years, and yet by 2020 the U.S. will graduate less than 30 percent of the engineers we need to be competitive.

It just makes sense to get more girls into technology. It’s an
incredibly exciting field and women make great computer scientists.
Thousands of them are at GHC in Baltimore today. Join us and change the
world!

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a program
of the Anita Board Institute, which is funded by the world’s best
technology companies to help industry, academia, and government recruit,
retain, and develop women leaders in high-tech fields, resulting in
higher levels of technological innovation. You can learn more at www.anitaborg.org
.

Equality

Birth Control Battles and Women in Tech

Published in the Huffington Post earlier today:

Would I have the career I have today without having had easy
access to birth control? I doubt it. Tech women are like any other women. Most
of us ‘successful’ technical women were uninsured or low-income at the beginning
of our careers, including those of us in Silicon Valley. We were students, we
went for stretches without health insurance, we had to manage when we got
pregnant just like any other woman building a career and taking her rightful
place in our society.

And technology is an area that needs women more than most.
It’s the fuel of our new economy, especially software technology. We’re
creating tech jobs here, the U.S. has an advantage, but we need more STEM
college graduates
, and that means we need more women going into and
staying in technology.

But as the Republican Convention is about to begin, consider
how the Romney-Ryan ticket would rupture the opportunity for tech women by
going after our birth control. That’s right, birth control. Leaving aside other
weapons in the ‘War on Women’, maybe one of the best ways to keep working women
down is by making basic contraception difficult to find and hard to afford. Mitt
Romney has pledged to “get rid of” and defund Planned
Parenthood
, which would deny access to birth control for millions of
women, and Romney supports efforts in Congress to restrict or eliminate access
to birth control for low-income and uninsured women.  That means most women at some point in their
lives.

Ask any under-insured grad student who spends her nights on
her computer how her career prospects would look if she couldn’t afford to control
whether and when she gets pregnant. How many female CEOs would have shattered
the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley if managing their reproductive health had
been out of their hands when they were working their way up the ladder? Marissa Mayer,
the new CEO of Yahoo who is about to have her first child at the age of 37,
might have something to say about that.

 It is incredible that in the 21st century there is any
debate about the value and necessity of easily accessible and affordable birth
control. Now Romney has chosen for his running mate a young congressman who
seems very comfortable turning back the clock by frowning on birth control,
while writing a plan to dismantle the basic health care safety net that
millions of women rely on. Paul Ryan
also voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and last year sponsored a “personhood”
bill
 that would not only give
full constitutional rights to fertilized eggs but could ban some forms of birth
control and fertility treatment.

Women working in technology are on the cutting edge,
creating jobs and changing our world in dramatic, powerful ways. But we can’t
do that if politicians in Washington restrict our ability to plan our families
and our futures.