Why We Need More Women In Tech

Women and girls still face a lot of obstacles in shaping technologies. The digital gender divide might be getting worse. Women and girls everywhere are missing, underrepresented, and dropping out from technology fields. As a result,  today’s tech – and increasingly today’s world – does not reflect the diversity of women’s experiences or ingenuity.

This isn’t fair, it’s not treating people like you want to be treated.

Beyond that, I’ve observed that technology is improved when women and girls have equal access. That’s pretty much common sense, since tech talent has no gender bias, and I’ve got over forty years working with women engineers and programmers that proves it. (We need a lot more, and in the U.S. we’re talking about a renewed emphasis on STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — education.)

Too often, women in STEM get little acknowledgement for the work they’re doing. As a nerd, it’s my philosophy that everyone gets a fair chance to be heard. It’s one of the reasons I started craigconnects.org. Earlier this year, I shared some big news: for the first time, in 2014,  women outnumbered men in a UC Berkeley Computer Science course. We need to continue supporting trends like this. It’s really important, folks.

women in tech

All this is why I’ve added my voice as an advocate to Global Fund for Women’s petition with UN Women calling for an end to the global gender technology gap. I wrote more about it over on HuffPo…

Specifically, I’m adding my name to call on the United Nations, governments around the world, and key decision makers to remove all barriers to the development and use of technology, increase investment in girls’ science and technology education around the world, and ensure women’s and girls’ full participation as developers and innovators.

Join me and add your signature to the Global Fund for Women and UN Women’s petition. Let’s make our call loud — we want to reach 20,000 signatures by March 5 in time to deliver the petition for International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Tell your colleagues, friends, and social networks that their signature can make a difference in shaping the type of future we live in.

Who should learn to code? Everyone.

I believe that everyone deserves the chance to learn how to code, if that’s what they want. And maybe that desire for equality’s based in my nerdly values, but it’s something that’s important. I’ve been supporting Girls Who Code for some time now, and they do real good work closing the gender gap in the tech and engineering sectors. Women in tech is an effort I’ve been supporting pretty frequently.

Speaking of coding, a coupla weeks ago Tim Heaton, who’s involved in Morristown community service, sent me an email about what’s going on with tech in Morristown, NJ. Tim’s email inspired me to ask  him to write a blog post for craigconnects…

Who should learn to code? Everyone.

Bill Gates :“Everyone in this country should learn to program a computer.”

Cube jockey: “The Everyone Should Learn to Program” movement is wrong because it falsely equates programming with essential skills like reading, writing, and math. In my 30- year programming career…… ”

Thirty years?

Thirty years ago there was one phone company. Michael Jordan was a freshman at NC. President Ronald Reagan made GPS available for civilian use. The McNugget was born. And the Apple IIe was introduced — one of its amazing features was that it could display lower- and upper-case letters!

Thirty years ago it was really difficult to learn a computer language. Running a program often meant getting up in the middle of the night for your allotted run time. Programs were boxes of punch cards. Machines talking to machines was sci-fi. A phone was something shared with neighbors. To this day a computer to my dad (an ex-IBM programmer) is a room-sized monster, nothing else qualifies. A PC is just a typewriter. A mobile phone is just a phone.

Career programmers don’t think just anyone can do it.

They will tell you that you need 10 years of coding experience to know enough to be “worthy.” And this was certainly true 30 years ago. Then it took a whole day to run a program, now it happens every time you turn on your phone. Most importantly, the open source community and free online learning sites is a true paradigm shift that has broken down the knowledge barrier.

In medieval times, the Guilds were founded to stifle competition by restricting knowledge. Today it is the same. Fortifying this false barrier in technology is the notion that jobs requiring even minimal skill need certification (with apologies to some of my favorite professions): Bar-Tending, Physical Trainer, Project Management or Database Administrator. The Guilds during the Middle Ages protected their members for the same reason as today’s: Job security. However, developing your ideas into a product doesn’t mean being chained in a cubicle for 10 years or lugging around a stack of cards in the middle of the night. Coding is no longer difficult. The open source movement has seen to that.

To the modern programming Guilds, I agree that it takes years to understand what others have written in the millions of lines of enterprise code. I’m not suggesting that everyone should be a programmer anymore than I would suggest that anyone could be a concert pianist. The difference is that developing useful applications with code is much, much easier than learning to play the piano.

So, if anyone could code, why is learning to code important?handel

Because being creative is not enough in today’s workplace. To be successful you must be able execute your ideas. And you have a far better idea of what is useful than the tradition-bound, 30-year career programmer – or some dude in Chennai for that matter .

A modern analogy may be found in music. Is the artist Pitbull a musician? If we could ask Friedrich Handel’s opinion – maybe not, and if we could shoot him back to Handel’s time – definitely not. Today however, Pitbull is a multi-platinum artist. Same thing with technology. One doesn’t need to be a computer prodigy to be a successful technologist, one needs to know how the technology works well enough to write a song or build an mobile application.

A note to Handel: I don’t think much of Pitbull’s music either.

It’s more important to understand the market and communicate with people, in both music and technology, than to write beautiful composition or code. Most of the successful people in technology are not great coders, but they understand enough to execute their ideas. To the career programmers – the cubicles are yours. To the executors of ideas – the world is ours.

Rosetta Stone or Code.org? – One final note.

The most amazing thing about computer languages is that, like music, they are universal. Whatever I create in computer code is understood by everyone else in the world, immediately and simultaneously. Multilingual education forgot to include the universal language: Computer languages.

Who should learn to code? Everyone who has a problem that needs solving.

Teach yourself and join the effort to teach kids how to solve problems: Code.org

 

Guest Blog Post by Tim Heaton

heaton

4 Creative Women-Run Startups That Are Getting Stuff Done

Hey, women entrepreneurs run more than 8.6 million businesses in the US, generating more than $1.3 trillion in total revenues (according to nerdwallet).

Breaking down silos is a great way to get stuff done. It’s critical to take a look at what’s already being done in an effort to create real change. Too often orgs try to do their own thing without checking if it’s already being done.

creativity

My team and I have researched 5 women-run startups that are being done right now, and these are some startups that might inspire you to collaborate or come up with your own startup idea.

We think that they’re the real deal. You can also follow them, or their founder, on Twitter for some insight into their work.

4 Creative Startups That Are Getting Stuff Done:

1. Soceana is working to generate social good by creating a vibrant community of volunteers, nonprofits, philanthropists and corporations. Soceana aims to create a central hub for key data analytics, personalized skills-based matching, and an engagement platform. They say, “it’s almost like a Facebook with its employee-led event planning and photo-upload features meets LinkedIn with its messaging and professional development all tied together with data analytics to create a unique product in a thriving space.”

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Tess Michaels:
//

2. Tock is an antisocial social app. It’s both an app and game that rewards users for being away from their device. It encourages more people to talk face to face, not phone to phone. Compete against friends to see who can stay away from their phones the longest and discover what exists beyond the screen. Speaking of collaboration…

Rachel Samples is the one walking the walk behind Tock:
//

3. TaskRabbit was inspired by a yellow lab. TaskRabbit allows you to live smarter by connecting you with safe and reliable help in your neighborhood. You’re able to outsource your household errands and skilled tasks to trusted folks in your community. They say it’s an old school concept – neighbors helping neighbors – reimagined for today.

Founder & Engineer turned Entrepreneur, Leah Busque:

//

4. YouNoodle helps startup founders get advice, prizes, and opportunities. Having run over 400 different contests and challenges, they try to learn more about their entrepreneurs and introduce them to opportunities unavailable to most. YouNoodle connects entrepreneurs with advisors and investors, and they fast-track startups into accelerators and other programs.

Co-Founder Rebeca Hwang’s philosophy is that it’s powerful to link people and ideas, and help them connect and cultivate ideas.

______________________________________________

Folks, who would you like to see on this list?//

 

6 Women Making Waves for Social Justice in Tech

tech social justice

Folks, my teams and I have been following your comments about women in the tech sector that you really admire.

We’ve researched many of the women you’ve shared, and appreciate the time you took to mention ’em. The following is a list of women who really have their boots on the ground, all suggestions from comments. Please keep ’em coming. And maybe follow these women who are doing a lot of work for social good in the tech arena.

1. Selena Deckelmann, A major contributor to PostgreSQL and a Data Architect at Mozilla. She’s been involved with free and open source software since 1995 and began running conferences for PostgreSQL in 2007. In 2012, she founded PyLadiesPDX, a Portland chapter of PyLadies. Selena also founded Open Source Bridge and Postgres Open, and speaks internationally about open source, databases, and community when she’s not keeping chickens and giving technical talks.


//

2. Leslie Hawthorn, Community Manager at Elasticsearch, where she leads community relations efforts. Leslie’s spent the past decade creating, cultivating, and enabling open source communities. She created the world’s first initiative to involve pre-university students in open source software development, launched Google’s #2 Developer Blog, received an O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2010, and gave a few great talks on many things open source.


//

3. Deb Nicholson, Director of Community Outreach for the Open Invention Network, works at the intersection of technology and social justice. She’s been a free speech advocate, economic justice organizer and civil liberties defender. After working in Massachusetts politics for fifteen years, Deb became involved in the free software movement.

She’s the Community Outreach Director at the Open Invention Network and the Community Manager at Media Goblin. She also serves on the board at Open Hatch, a non-profit dedicated to matching prospective free software contributors with communities, tools and education.

(We could not find a Twitter account for Deb Nicholson…)

4. Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph, Automation and Tools Engineer at Hewlett-Packard on the OpenStack Infra team. Elizabeth’s also a Community Council member for Ubuntu and a Board Member for Partimus, an organization that puts Linux hardware in schools.

5. Keila Banks, A web designer, programmer, videographer, and publisher of content making use of mostly open source software. She speaks to audiences of adults and youth alike on being raised in a family filled with technology and how she uses Linux and open source software in ways that will challenge you to ask yourself, are you smarter than a 5th grade open source user?

(We could not find a Twitter account for Keila Banks…)

6. Val Aurora, Co-Founder  and Executive Director of the Ada Initiative, a nonprofit that seeks to increase women’s participation in the free culture movement, open source technology, and open source culture. Val’s a writer, programmer, and feminist activist, and speaks about women in open technology and culture, feminism, and harassment. She also co-founded Double Union, a feminist hackerspace in San Francisco


//

Women doing STEM right

Hey, it’s important to me to recognize folks doing really good work, especially those who don’t usually get the recognition they deserve. My team and I have generated quite a few lists of women doing good work:

Recently, I asked my networks to contribute the women who impressed them, the folks in the STEM field who really have their boots on the ground. We got great responses, verified the women suggested, and have compiled a list (in no particular order) here:

1. Natasha Mohanty, Co-Founder, CTO, & VP of Technology at FEM inc.
Natasha joined FEM inc. from Google, where she was a lead engineer working on content recommendations and personalization for Google+ and Google News with a special emphasis on meeting the needs of women. Their efforts increased female engagement with Google+ by over 30%.

She has extensive experience in large-scale data mining to build user profiles through data. She received her A.B. from Mount Holyoke and M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. When not hacking for FEM inc., she works on projects to get more women and girls interested in tech.

2. Limor Fried, Founder of Adafruit Industries
Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Adafruit has grown to over 50 employees in the heart of NYC with a 15,000+ sq ft. factory.

Adafruit has expanded offerings to include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store. Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine and was awarded Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur of the year.

3. Marianne Marck, Senior Vice President of Consumer Facing Technology at Starbucks
At Starbucks, Marianne leads the global retail and digital technology teams, the solution architecture and enterprise integration functions, and the technology teams for the China-Asia-Pacific region.

She joined Starbucks in 2011 as Vice President of Software Engineering, and led the enterprise software and application engineering function, including efforts for ERP, HRIS, web, mobile, enterprise QA, enterprise integration, and solution architecture. Prior to joining Starbucks, Marianne earned 22 years of tech experience developing solutions and platforms and building teams. Most recently at Blue Nile, she held the role of Senior Vice President of technology.

4. Bindu Reddy, CEO and Co-Founder of MyLikes
Before starting MyLikes, Bindu was at Google and oversaw product management for several products including Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Video and Blogger. When she first started at Google, Bindu was a Product Manager for AdWords, where she improved the AdWords bidding model by introducing Quality Based Bidding and Quality Score for keywords. She was also in charge of Google’s shopping engine – Google Product Search and designed and launched Google Base.

Before Google, Bindu founded AiYo – a shopping recommendations service. Earlier in her career, Bindu was the Director of Product Management at eLance and a Computational Biologist at Exelixis.

5. Edie Stern, a distinguished Engineer and Inventor at IBM
Edie has more than 100 patents to her name, and has been awarded the Kate Gleason Award for lifetime achievement. She received the award for the development of novel applications of new technologies. The 100 patents to her name represent her work in the worlds of telephony and the Internet, remote health monitoring, and digital media.

 6. Ellen Spertus, Research Scientist at Google & Computer Science Professor at Mills University

Ellen’s areas of focus are in structured information retrieval, online communities, gender in computer science, and social effects of computing. She was a core engineer of App Inventor for Android, which enables computing novices to create mobile apps. and she co-authored a book on App Inventor.

Ellen has been working to bring more women into computing for decades now. In 1991, while studying computer science at MIT, she published a paper titled, “Why are there so few Female Computer Scientists.” And Ellen tells girls: “I’m sorry to tell you that Hogwarts isn’t real — but MIT is.”

________________________________________________

Thanks to everyone who contributed, and please, keep ’em coming!

6 Impressive Women in Engineering

It’s important to acknowledge and support the people on the backend doing good work. Too often, women engineers get little to no acknowledgement for the work they’re doing. As a nerd, it’s my philosophy that everyone gets a fair chance to be heard. It’s one of the reasons I started craigconnects.org.

My team and I have compiled a list of women in engineering who are the real deal. These women work and build the companies that many of us use every single day, but you may have never heard of them. This is a selection that people don’t hear enough about, as opposed to the notoriety that some others get. I’d like to challenge you to check out the work that these women are doing.

STEM 2

 

1. Holly Liu, Cofounder and Chief of Staff at Kabam

//

Kabam is the leader in the western world for free-to-play core games. Holly also oversees Kabam’s corporate culture as head of People Operations (“People Ops”), which is responsible for driving Kabam’s vision, mission, and values for its more than 800 employees in offices around the world. Holly has helped build a world-class human resources team that is responsible for recruiting and retaining top talent and has grown Kabam’s personnel base by 500% in three years.

Holly was named to Forbes’ “Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs to Watch” in 2013 and one of Fortune’s “10 Most Powerful Women in Gaming.”

2. Avni Shah, Director of Product Management at Google

Avni is in charge of Chrome development at Google. She was one of two women to present at Google’s recent developer’s conference I/O. During her presentation, Avni introduced the new version of Chrome coming in the next Android update dubbed Android L.

3. Nadine Harik, Engineering Manager at Pinterest

//

Before joining the Pinterest team, Nadine was at Google overseeing the Web and mobile Web teams

When Nadine first started working the the tech field, she described how quickly she became tired of explaining her role at the tech companies she worked for to strangers who assumed she was in HR or community management.

“Now,” Nadine says, “I tend to always preface with, ‘I work at Pinterest and I’m an engineer at Pinterest.'”

4. Merline Saintil, Head of Global Engineering Operations at Yahoo, and Advisor for EngageClick

//

Merline is an international technology executive, business advisor, and operations expert, having distinguished herself as a leader in fast growing sectors of cloud computing, mobile, online payments and commerce. She has been involved in the process of creating software as well as managing global teams to produce world-class products in a variety of positions at Sun Microsystems, Adobe, PayPal and Joyent, Inc.

Merline currently serves on the Strategic Development Board and co-leads the COO C-Suite of Watermark (leading organization for Executive Women).

Outside of her business interests, Merline said she’s advising Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (CA-18) on the first mobile app challenge for high school students sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives. She has a passion for mentoring, investing, supporting women in technology

5. Ruchi Sanghvi, Head of Operations at Dropbox

//

Prior to joining Dropbox, Sanghvi served as the co-founder and CEO of Cove, a collaboration, coordination and communication product for organizations and communities.

Sanghvi holds the distinction of being the first female engineer at Facebook and was instrumental in implementing the first versions of key features such as News Feed. She then led product management and strategy for Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect. She was also responsible for core product areas such as privacy and user engagement.

The BBC asked Ruchi what it was like to be the first female engineer at Facebook? She said she “‘was used to being in a minority: at engineering school, she was one of the five female students in a class of 150.’

But at Facebook, she says, she truly came into her own.

‘You had to be opinionated, you had to make sure your point of view was heard, you had to ask questions. Sometimes people would tell you were stupid and you’d start all over again,'” she said.

6.  Hilary Mason, Founder and Chief Executive at Fast Forward Labs

//

Before founding Fast Forward Labs, Hilary was chief scientist at link-shortening company Bitly for almost four years and more recently worked part-time for Accel Partners as a data scientist in residence.

A subscription to Fast Forward Labs includes quarterly R&D reports, prototypes, innovation events, and an ongoing dialogue with their team on the topics of innovation and near future technologies.

Hopefully you learned about someone new, and maybe started following that person. I’d appreciate it if you left a comment with someone you’d like to see in a 2.0 version of this list. My team and I would like to hear from you about some women in engineering who really have their boots on the ground. Thanks!

6 Women Run Startups to Check Out

Good news, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress:

  • the number of women-owned firms in the US grew by 59% from 1997 to 2013—1.5x the national average.
  • Women of color are the majority owners at close to 1/3 of all women-owned firms in the nation.
  • African American women are both the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned-business population and the largest share of female business owners among women of color, at 13%.

Here are 6 women-run startups you should check out:

1. Love With Food – Aihui Ong, Founder and CEO. Love With Food helps you discover new organic or all-natural snacks delivered to your door every month. Their subscription membership starts at $10/month. For every box sold, they donate a meal to several food banks, like the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry.

love with food

2. TurboVote – Kathryn Peters, Co-founder & COO. A reminder system for voters so that you don’t miss an election. They make voting easy by helping you register to vote (or updating your voter registration), helping you get absentee ballots and vote by mail, and by sending you reminders so you never forget to vote. turbovote

3. CakeHealth – Rebecca Woodcock, Founder and CEO. A free way to manage health care. CakeHealth brings all your health care plans together online so you can easily track your health spending — without the paperwork.

4. LearnUp – Alexis Ringwald, Co-founder & CEO. LearnUp solves the skills gap by empowering entry-level job seekers to learn the skills needed to get hired. They develop online trainings in partnership with employers that enables job seekers to practice real life situations of a particular job. By completing the training before they interview, job seekers are prepared for the job and increase their chances of getting hired. LearnUp is building the education-to-employment pathway for those looking for work, while helping employers hire qualified talent.

learnup

5. Samahope – Leila Janah and Sivani Garg Patel, Co-founders. Samahope was one of the first nonprofits to apply the crowdfunding model to the challenges of global health. They support doctors to fund the patient outreach and transportation, food/board, medicines, treatment (personnel and facilities), training, equipment/supplies. They also focus on women and children — The medical treatments they fund, in most cases, disproportionately affect women and children living in the poorest parts of the world. By connecting you directly with the doctors in the field, Samahope closes the gap between the donation, itself, and the impact it has on someone’s life.

samahope

 

6. MoolaHoop – Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes, Co-founders. MoolaHoop is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform that enables women entrepreneurs seeking to raise funds for their small business. MoolaHoop enables women-owned, -managed and –led small businesses to easily engage their “crowd” of existing customers, potential customers, family and friends in order to raise funds for their business.

moolahoop

What are your favorite women-led startups? And who would you add to a 2.0 version of this list? More to come…

Why Men Must “Lean In” to Support Women’s Leadership

Our times call for  some innovators and women leaders who work in partnership with men. Again, this is about my commitment to fairness.

Basically, it’s time we get more women into public office. I recorded this video about fairness and getting better government everywhere, maybe indulge me? It’s about creating real social change, for the better.

I’ve joined up with the Women In Public Service Project to play my part. I’m working with them to host a call to action to champions of change around the world. You can be a part of this movement, too…

(I also recorded a video about how to use social media better, for equality. Maybe it’ll help ya out.)

 

How to Use Social Media Better, For Equality

Hey, I have a commitment to fairness, based on a (naive) nerd desire to make life less unfair.

I’ve created a video asking you to help create a more fair world, please indulge me and watch, and share it. It’s for a good cause, and is a brief discussion of social media for the Women in Public Service Project.

The thing is, social media can be harnessed for policy-making, and remember that real change doesn’t happen from the top down. That is, the act of discussing policy in social media helps participants buy into it, and later, the discussion record helps other join the effort.

So, my challenge for you to is work with each other, within your networks, then between networks, to commit to the mutual acquisition of power, on a near daily basis, from now to 2050.

The gist of the challenge is to use social networking such that your discussions can extend beyond tens or hundreds of people into millions of people. This can span countries, time, and cultures.

Caveat: trolls, sometimes professional ones, will seek profit at your expense. Watch out for trolls who tell a good, heart-wrenching story.troll meme

I’ll help however I can, and I have confidence in you. So, what I’m asking of you is commitment to collaborate with people in your immediate network.

My challenge to you is to work together, with each other, in your networks, then transcend networks. I’m making a big ask of you…Can I have your commitment?

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑