This timely article from the NYT DealBook looks at the small number of female venture capitalists. And now for the requisite grim statistics: “Women account for just 6 percent of the chief executives of the top 100 tech companies, and 22 percent of the software engineers at tech companies over all, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. And among venture capitalists, the population of financiers who control the purse strings for a majority of tech start-ups, just 14 percent are women, the National Venture Capital Association says.”

Yes, another tech area lacking women. The article interestingly notes, “Women now outnumber men at elite colleges, law schools, medical schools and in the overall work force. Yet a stark imbalance of the sexes persists in the high-tech world.” Why, oh, why? Here we are ~24 posts in and still no real answers.

Why not invest in women? They cost less than men on average. “Venture-backed start-ups run by women use, on average, 40 percent less capital than start-ups run by men and are increasingly involved in successful initial public offerings of stock.” So, they’re a good investment.

The article boils down to the fact that there is a lack of women role models leading the way. “There aren’t enough women entrepreneurs because they don’t see enough women entrepreneurs ahead of them and successful.” While 40% of private businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, only 8% of venture backed tech start-ups are run by women.

On that note…some successful tech women: Carol Bartz, Yahoo CEO; Meg Whitman, former ebay CEO; Carly Fiorini, former HP CEO…it’s a start at least.

The article looks specifically at one young woman, Poornima Vijayashanker, who has started her own company for making software for small business called BizeeBee. She voices many of the concerns we have read about repeatedly in class. One example, timing motherhood. “The tech start-up lifestyle isn’t hospitable to child-rearing. That’s why, she says, many young women prefer working at big companies to starting their own.”

Karen Watts, the CEO of a business accounting software, also repeats a commonly heard theme: “It just never dawned on me to do it [engineering],” she says. “You’re just sitting there pecking away. I need more human interaction.” Interesting because she is in a field that would be seen as lacking in human interaction, but she’s putting that tag on yet another profession. Why are we so obsessed with careers that have human interaction? Because I would venture to say most do, to varying degrees anyway.

The article goes on to relate the statistics on the low numbers of girls studying computer science and it revisits the nerd image that so many are afraid of. Comp sci Barbie gets a mention.

Then we get to a group at Stanford, Women in Computer Science that mentors other girls in CS.  The co-president of the group says, “It helps to show a human being who does computer science and says, ‘I also really like going to the theater or listening to music,’ so younger women can see you still have a personality and do technology.”  Again the same stereotypes persist.

One last time, for the record…maybe we should look at overcoming these stereotypes and inequalities by making computer science and technology interesting and accessible to girls from the beginning. It couldn’t hurt.

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