Men and women do things differently. It’s one of the reasons diverse teams perform better and deliver more innovation. I’ve found through my interviews for The Chasing Grace Project that female founders must do things differently than their male counterparts. They have to think differently and go deeper on funding and business strategies, because the capital isn’t as available to them. I’ve heard it all during my interviews, from being denied funding for being pregnant to being denied simply because of being a woman.
I spent the last couple of days with a community of 20,000 women at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration. I’ve been a women in tech for nearly 18 years and this was my first time. A GHC virgin. Being there was an energizing experience and, during a week that put the importance of women’s stories on the national stage, it gave me so much hope for the future. That hope comes from this massive and growing community of women supporting women.
That’s why today I’m especially excited to announce our latest episode, including the release of the episode trailer and some ridiculously exciting news about the venue for the premiere screening event. Thanks to the generous collaboration and support of Comcast NBCUniversal, Episode 2: Progress & the Power of Community will premiere at the historic Studio 8H at Rockefeller Plaza. Yes, that one. We’ll be giving women in tech one of the world’s most iconic stages to be seen and heard.
While young girls and women are told they can be anything they want to be, do anything they want to do, the reality is that women make up just 11 percent of leadership roles at Silicon Valley companies.
The impact of this could account for the low numbers of women in tech overall. Some women pursue promotions and leadership opportunities, only to be dismissed, leading to their exit from the industry. Young women who don’t see other women in positions of power may not realize the path to the top is one for them.
All-women teams receive just 2.2% of all investments by venture capitalists. That’s $1.9 billion compared to $66.9 billion for all-male teams.
That’s more than a wage gap; that’s an opportunity gap and societal gap. When women have access to capital, they often invest in other women and build more diverse leadership teams. Cindy Whitehead of The Pink Ceiling says it best:
“We talk all the time about how women need a voice. We don’t need a voice — we need power. Money is power. I say that confidently because the data shows that when women have that power, they pay it forward. They invest in other women, and they invest in their community.”
Today we’re releasing the next profile in our series ‘Meet the Women of Chasing Grace,’which features UX Designer Donna Chan. Donna tells us the story of finding herself immersed in bro culture and the backlash she and a couple other women in her office experienced when trying to start a women in tech group. That headline up there, that was the response from her CEO. Watch the short below to see what Donna’s reaction was to this.
Since starting The Chasing Grace Project, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of women in tech groups inside companies. Most often the groups are started by individual women who are looking for a way to connect at work. They feel isolated and alone, because there are so few women on their teams.
Today I’m pleased to announce a new series of online shorts called “Meet the Women of Chasing Grace.” While our episodes are currently only available at screenings and won’t be online until they’re all completed, these online exclusive shorts take you behind the scenes to learn more about the women sharing their stories for the Project.
We’re releasing two shorts today and will release one a week each Friday for the next 6–7 weeks. In today’s releases you’ll meet mom and startup co-founder Abby Cheesman, who tells us what she experienced when pitching venture capitalists while eight-months pregnant. You’ll also meet open source tech executive Nithya Ruff, who originally appeared in ours series trailer and tells us about her experience as a young girl in India and the influence her father had on her path into tech.
Many reasons are cited for the lack of women in tech but the most often-cited reason is the culture. But how do you begin to solve for that? Changing culture inside our own companies is hard enough. How do we begin to change it industry-wide? The tech industry prides itself on solving the hard problems but somehow this one remains a puzzle.
We believe the solution is in telling and sharing stories, and there’s a load of evidence to support this theory. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long game. And that’s always difficult for Silicon Valley to rationalize. In a world where “time to market” and “return on investment” set the pace, it’s sometimes difficult to grasp that not all solutions are on the same timeline nor come in the same package.
Today we’re opening nominations for The Chasing Grace Project Advisory Board, which will help us quickly identify trending topics and stories that are perhaps just starting to emerge in the women in tech narrative.
We’ve talked to hundreds of men and women from all over the world to inform the stories we tell and the treatment we give them in The Chasing Grace Project. Those conversations continue. I’m conducting interviews this week and next, for example, to inform our next episode about female founders. But we know we can have a much bigger impact with the help of an AB, whose members are attending events and are involved in conversations that we aren’t. We can’t possibly be everywhere all the time. The AB will extend our understanding and reach.