Heck, I experienced my own doubts when trying to find a local female mentor in the green tech space in the D.C. area. Albeit, the D.C. metropolitan area is saturated with consumer Internet and IT solutions more than technologies that provide sustainable solutions or resource efficiency; the dearth of female technology mentors was discouraging. After many conversations and a little soul searching to internalize the problem and dissect the root causes, I reached the following viewpoints that may be causing this systemic problem.
1. It's easier to be ordinary than to be unordinary
If you happen to be a female currently reading this, I want you to think, and be honest, how many times you have been mistaken as a Marketing major, a professional in the fashion industry, or an executive assistant. I have personally encountered this and was tempted to immediately ask what led this individual [man] to assume this. However, I couldn't blame him. The problem is that these stereotypes are substantiated by the gender ratio that is skewed within these college majors and careers. According to Reuters, 30 percent of the 450 American tech executives surveyed said their IT groups have zero women at all in management positions. This staggering gap of women being present in non-traditional and more technical fields makes it less and less attractive for others to want to seek these opportunities. Return to the perpetual.
2. There just is not enough role models to go around
On my quest to search for a local female mentor in the technology space I came across a dozen women mentors that were amazing. Unfortunately, they just weren't in D.C. There are plenty of inspiring women building very innovative solutions to critical needs and challenges. Danielle Fong, if you are reading this, you are one of them. Danielle gets clean technology, she understands the challenges with fundraising in a space that is increasingly receiving less support given the economic climate and only more skepticism due to large bankruptcies and even longer return on investments for investors. Secretly, you serve as my mentor but I wish there were more of you and more that were easily accessible. This can be discouraging for the faint heart but creating a new path is never easy and women should acknowledge the difficulties and strategize how to overcome these adversities. A few great resources focused on women empowerment and development are: Women2.0, Pipeline Fellowship, NAWBO , and 85 Broads. By no means does this short list encompass everything that is available to women. I strongly encourage you to seek more.
3. Men have a Kill Gene and Women Do Not
It's a fact that men are more aggressive, more arrogant, and more competitive than women. This places us [women] at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of fundraising and Silicon Valley continues to perpetuate this. I am generalizing here, but most men understand competition as obliterating the competitor in order to obtain market dominance. Whereas women tend to evaluate market positioning and competition with more objective and cautious eyes and assessing each strategic move with more financial prudence than our male counterparts. That is why I concede with Vivek Wadwa's contention that women will save the world and I only hope to lead in this movement.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and IGNITEgood in recognition of International Women's Day, on March 8.