A mentor once told me that "inch by inch life is a cinch, yard by yard life is hard."
It is hard for us to hear the stats and facts coming out of top tech companies that under 20 percent of the tech jobs are filled by women and under 3 percent for blacks and hispanics. It is hard to have conversations with so many women who express isolation in being one of the only women in their departments, on boards, in leadership positions. It is hard to see so many great men, husbands and fathers also and equally confused about this predicament.
How did this happen?
Did we get thrown back into the 50s? Were we having too much fun on the technicolor playgrounds of our making that we didn't see or want to read-the-world in black and white, in women and men, in then and now.
Did we just naturally migrate to different playgrounds?
Is it just in STEM fields or also in law firms, hospitality, journalism and many other sectors?
What about the now generation of 'enlightened' male leaders who were raised by confident working mothers? A new boys network of inclusiveness? Hands-on fathers and mates desiring a multi-cultural and diverse workforce with sisters, nieces, aunts, family-bread-winning wives rocking it and ascending.
Laszlo Bock, Chief People Officer of Google and Vivek Wadwha spoke on PBS of hostile environments for women in tech. Of frat-boy hiring tactics. He shared Google IT workforce is 2 percent hispanic and 1 percent black. Twitter, Apple, Facebook and others followed suit (or followed 'hoodie') with women representing 1:5 or less in tech jobs across the board.
My generation of 80s girls (post Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive and pre-Gaga's Paparazzi) as well as the next three decades have benefited from the women pioneering before us. We tip our hats and our assorted Tori Burch scarves to you. We are confident, capable, productive, curious and proud of achieving results. We are proud of you.
The wake up call is we did not believe we needed to pull out the banner of feminism anymore. We thought we were past that and delighted to join the great game of the working women, business and entrepreneurship.
But we are not past all of that and a new word is bubbling up among many (both male and female). STEMinist.
71 percent of jobs will require STEM skills and blue collar STEM careers are often a ticket out of poverty.
STEM jobs pay women 92 cents on a dollar what men make vs. other positions that pay on average 77 cents on a dollar (and much less for minority women). Source and key data on women in STEM.
Technology is what we love and we want to utilize it (coupled with female intuition) to change the world.
We want to build a great ROI for companies as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs. We know from Catalyst.org that companies with strong female leaders and board members just perform better and bring in stronger revenues.
We don't want to be isolated.
We want a 'best idea wins' culture.
We will gladly lead and collaborate.
We will mentor men and women in their careers.
and we want to make you, our families, our men, and our vast networks proud as we trail blaze with innovation and collective action.
Things have changed though as we inch or some sprint ahead.
It is not 'I am woman, hear me roar' ...
It is 'We are women, hear our chairs pull up to board tables and WebEx conferencing screens.'