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.

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.”

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

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?

5 Reasons We Need Social Change

Folks, I started this craigconnects thing because I really want to use tech to give a real voice to the voiceless, and real power to the powerless. Ever justicesince starting craigconnects, I’ve created a list of issues areas that I’m really focusing on. It’s important that we work together, as a community, and collaborate to create real social change. You can’t change the world from the top down.

Here are just 5 (of many) reasons we need social change:

  1. We seem to throw money into food and housing, yet a lot of folks are still in need, so something isn’t working right. This includes military families and veterans. We need to do it better.
  2. We need to improve the reentry experience of war veterans into the American economy and society. Less than 1% of Americans currently serve in the military, so this is a really important conversation to have. The conversation has already been started, we just need to keep collaborating and working toward our goals.
  3. Journalism Ethics. We need to ensure that journalism fulfills its role as the heart of democracy and its mission of seeking truth and building trust. The press should be the immune system of democracy. Turns out that what we have now are a lot of ethics codes and policies, but very little accountability. This is something I often discuss when I talk about trustworthy journalism in a fact-checking-free world. And this is also why I joined the board of Poynter, and work with the Columbia Journalism Review, Center for Public Integrity, and Sunlight Foundation.
  4. There are some real bad actors out there trying to implement laws to stop eligible people, including women, the elderly, and disenfranchised communities, from voting. What I learned in high school civics class is that an attack on voting rights is virtually the same as an attack on the country. We need to step up and remind folks that the Founders of the US tell us that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, meaning that citizens have the right to vote. And we need to protect that right.
  5. Today, women represent 12% of all computer science graduates. In 1984, they represented 37%. This number should be increasing, and we can change that. It’s important that we encourage girls and women to get involved in tech. Here’s more on the importance of girls in tech.

Personally, I’m a nerd, and feel that life should be fair, that everyone gets a chance to be heard, and maybe to help run things. Sure, life isn’t fair, but that won’t slow me down. A nerd’s gotta do what a nerd’s gotta do.

Note to self: JUST LISTEN. That is, don’t ALWAYS attempt to solve the problem, SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED TO LISTEN. (Courtesy of  “You Just Don’t Understand” by Deborah Tannen.)

Why I speak ONLY for myself

Hey, recently I’ve made a point of reminding people that I haven’t been a spokesman for craigslist, or had any role in management since 2000.

My deal is that, as a manager, I kinda suck, but I found my calling in customer service, and every day I saw how we helped people put food on the table and put a roof over that table.

Customer service is a big part of what inspires me; also consider that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”(Martin Luther King Jr.)

For a few years now (time flies!) I’ve been working on public service and philanthropy under the craigconnects.org umbrella.

In the short term, I have a few causes I believe in and support a number of organizations who are good at getting stuff done for those causes.

In the long term, over a twenty year period say, my goal is to connect people everywhere, to support the stuff *they* believe in.

People often know me as the founder of craigslist, but these days I’m on my own public service mission. So, thoughts I share publicly here (or anywhere else) are my own, and I speak only for myself.

That way craigslist and its users won’t (or at least shouldn’t) get blamed for anything I say or do.

 

Your Ideas to End Online Harassment

Hey, I’ve been reaching out to my networks to crowdsource ways to end online harassment after the release of the Online Harassment Infographic that revealed that 25% of harassmentAmerican adults have been bullied, threatened, or harassed online, or know someone who has.

The first step toward dealing with unacceptable behavior is to understand the problem, then we can get rid of it. To that end, I’ve been asking people on the ground what we can do to get rid of this problem.

We got lots of good responses, and I’m including some of them here:

“Trolls generally shut down their online accounts because they don’t like being trolled themselves. Internet anonymity should not give people the right to attack others in a way they never would do in real life, so outing them seems like the best option!” – JeriAnn Graves

“Unplug, walk away, use a pseudonym, increase your privacy controls… All of these are perfectly viable solutions to online harassment. Control what information is available online, and you control the harassers. That said, I really think Facebook needs to tighten up on its privacy settings. I don’t want to appear on search results, I don’t want pictures of me showing up anywhere, and I certainly don’t want jerks I knew from high school to be able to contact me.” – Cameron Barker: Mild-Mannered Salesman by Day, Happily Cynical Writer by Night

In response to Cameron,

Kelly Diels Rostant, Online Marketing Manager at Goldbeck Recruiting Inc, said:
“Telling the people who receive this kind of treatment to unplug or walk away allows the people doing the harassing to win. They’ve effectively silenced their targets.”

“I think we all need to stop thinking of this as someone else’s problem. If you see someone being harassed, lend your voice in censure. If you don’t like the way someone speaks to you, tell them so and assert your right to be respected. Bullies’ power comes from fear and avoidance and from people looking the other way, or being glad it’s not them. Let’s take away their power by being clear that the way they behave is not acceptable, and teach our children to do the same.” – Claire Weatherston, Communication and Events Coordinator at Western State College of Law

“Treat others the way you wish to be treated yourself.” – Anthony Simonetti, Marketing Communications at New Horizons, Six Sigma Green Belt

“Trustcloud (crowd sourcing) is a solution to end harrasment from the web. It is as easy as being prompting upon accepting/making a connection, making friends/accepting friend request or being followed/following a person the user gets a trust score of the requesting person/relevant person.” – Zorays Khalid

“DO use decoy selections in report abuse forms, but keep it simple: ‘This is annoying’ vs ‘this is dangerous’ can be differentiated.” – Aria Stewart

no-harassment“Opening a police file when there is harassment can also signal that their actions will be met head-on, and hiding behind technology is no longer going to work for them but against them.”
– Darlene Rudolph, PMP

“LinkedIn should remove the anonymous views option which, in my view, provides cover for those who may be into sleuthing, creeping, and other cowardly bully-like behaviors.”
– Susan Howes, CTDP, Senior Business Analyst, Workplace Learning Specialist

“Surely there’s a startup in the valley somewhere working on a way to monetize kindness?”
– Jubal Ince, Talent Community Advisor at Workday

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. Works every time.” – Christine Wilinsky, Legal Document Preparation and Writing Services

“I think we need to stop looking upon the internet as being somehow at fault for all the bad things that can happen on it. It’s the people on the internet that are the problem, not the tool itself. So my answer to the original headline question is – first stop harassment in the offline world and the problem will be solved.” – Patrick Moran

“Too often intent is only ‘proven’ after the harasser has already harmed/ killed the harassed. I think harassment should be called out and dealt with, otherwise all of us are just consenting to that kind of behavior with silence – not cool.” – Ida Wepener, Technical writer at Laragh Courseware

“I would recommend the following: Ignore inappropriate messages- avoid receiving anonymous or unrecognized calls –report the in-person harassment to the authorities if the harasser leaves you no choice – have the communication terminated by the network to save time, self respect and appreciation-turn to your friends or your companion for support and understanding – remember it’s not your fault –try not to blame yourself-get out of the vicious cycle a.s.a.p.” – Dimitra Tatuli, counseling and psychotherapy

 

Which of these suggestions resonates with you? I want to continue working on these efforts, so please let me know other ideas you have to end online harassment. More to  come…

The Philosophies of a Nerd


Hey, I recently spoke at Nonprofit 2.0’s Unconference in Washington, and it turns out, I really am a nerd.

In high school, and this is 50s/60s, I really did grow up wearing a plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses taped together, and I had the requisite social skills to go with that. And even now, I can simulate social skills for an hour, maybe 2, then I get pretty cranky. You may wonder if I’m joking or serious, and the answer is both.

I figure a few of the things I talked about at the Unconference could be considered the life philosophies of a nerd…

Pictured is the #20 nephew, aka The Kumquat. He's the one (visibly) drooling.
Pictured is the #20 nephew, aka The Kumquat. He’s the one (visibly) drooling.

On Money –

We put a lot of money into feeding people, and a lot of people are still hungry. We put a lot of money into education, and that doesn’t seem to work so well. Which I don’t get. We put a lot of money into housing, and yet there’s still people without houses.

At some point in 1999, after I’d founded some site called craigslist, I’d go to parties in Silicon Valley and they suggest I do the easy Silicon Valley path of monetizing like crazy, then cashing out for huge amounts of money.

I decided I don’t need that. I just want to be comfortable and share that with friends and family. Since I got married recently my niece/nephew count went from 2 to 20 – my wife’s side of the family is terribly fertile.

(At the risk of a tangent, I haven’t been in craigslist management in about 14 years, don’t speak for the company, and haven’t done so for a long time.)

On Social Change – 

Long term I want to figure out how to give a voice, using the internet, to everyone on the planet. A lot of people who are doing good work, like Mark, and Sergio, and Larry. They want to do work to change the world.

You can’t make change from the top down. The president’s the most powerful person in the world, but not that powerful. What’s powerful is when people in the trenches work together to get things done, and that’s what makes a difference.

caesar

My ambitions are to get people in the world to work together. To get stuff done. That’s what changes things. There are opportunities of power to emerge from people who work together effectively. I don’t know how that works.

I look at the social media leaders in the past who were good at doing things. An early blogger was Julius Caesar, he blogged, even though it was very low tech.

It got a little better with Martin Luther, who decided to use an evolved form of the same network. He got pretty good, blogging on a church blog. Of course Luther was assisted by this printing press thing – and this evolved in the Twitter revolution of 1688. John Locke, the one who lived in 1688, not the John Locke in Lost. Good show, but you could only understand it if you knew a lot about quantum physics. I know a lot of you want to hear it more about quantum physics, but more later… Just be glad I’m not going on a Game of Thrones rant.

On Vets, Milfams, and Getting Stuff Done – 

My biggest priority area’s to support vets and military families. Ultimately, if a person’s going to maybe go out there and risk taking a bullet protecting me, I could do something, like help them get a job.

I support a bunch of groups and efforts, typically supporting people who are doing good work. There’s a lot of veterans’ services orgs, like IAVA and Blue Star Families, and the National Military Family Association.

The group hardest to support getting something done is the Department of Veterans Affairs. They’re actually doing a lot of good work, but they have some real problems. The whole org of 360K people are being demonized by a very small group of people who started those efforts a while back, and now the whole org is demoralized.

And, mostly, I’m doing all of this quietly because I’ve learned that in this town you can get a lot of credit or you can get stuff done. But not both.

 Folks, I’ve got lots more, but brevity is the soul of wit. Maybe just get the word out and stop talking. More to come…

Big News: Over $345K Raised for America’s Heroes

Hey, big news just in time for Independence Day! We just raised $346,438 for America’s Heroes during the Veterans Charity Challenge 2. The organizations raised $296,438 online. Another $5,265 was raised offline, and I gave $50,000 to support these Veterans, Military Families, Police, and Firefighter organizations.

final

winners

A total of 94 teams signed up. All of ’em were the real deal. Folks, I can’t thank you enough for all the good work you’re doing.

  • The grand prize winner of $20K is Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), which raised $74,687 for training therapeutic service dogs. WCC utilizes clinically based Canine Connection Therapy to empower returning combat Veterans who have sustained physical and psychological wounds while in service to our country. This is WCC’s second time coming in first place.
  • 2nd place winner of $10K is Dogs on Deployment, which raised $32,800 to give military members peace of mind concerning their pets during their service commitments by providing them with the ability to find people and resources able to help them.
  • 3rd place winner of $5K is Leave No Veteran Behind (LNVB), which raised $26,528 for their innovative educational debt relief scholarship, community service, employment training, and job placement programs. LNVB invests in heroes who have honorably served our nation and seek to continue their service as productive citizens in their communities. Last year LNVB came in 2nd place.

It was really close in the end, and an exciting finish. Our team was able to call and chat with (or leave messages for) each of the big winners, and really thank them for all they’re doing for our service members and their families. I figure if someone’s willing to risk their life for me, this is the least I can do to give back…

Over the course of the Challenge, there were 6 Bonus Challenges, and we had 13 teams win.

  • Bonus Challenge #5,  get the greatest number of individual donors this week: Warrior Canine Connection won $2500.
  • Bonus Challenge #6, the first 5 charities to get 5 donations this week: Things We Read won $2K.

I’ll be interviewing some of the winners in the coming weeks…more to come…

If you didn’t give during the Challenge, you can still give now. And it’s a great way to honor our heroes for Independence Day, and really, every day.

Did you participate in the Veterans Charity Challenge 2? I’d like to hear your feedback. And again, congrats to all those orgs who really have their boots on the ground making a difference for our heroes.

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