Tech Women Rising: Crushing the Gender Gap from Startup to Scale

10/05/2017 02:09 pm ET
WOC in Tech Chat

By: Katica Roy with contributors Sandi Mays, Bijal Shah, Chiara McPhee, and Andrea Young

It’s no secret that the odds are against women in business, and even more so, women in the tech industry. From pitching investors, growing a startup, and landing leadership roles at mid-to-large sized companies, the numbers are grim.

But, why does this matter? It matters because the tech industry and tech jobs are some of the fastest growing in the U.S. Computer systems design (aka tech) was the fastest growing industry in 2016, with an average sales growth rate of 18%, compared to 6.8% for all other industries. In fact, software developers were the fifth fastest growth job in 2016 - adding 130,000 new jobs for a total of 1.5MM. As well, two of the top 10 fastest growing professions between 2014 and 2024 are in tech: software developers and computer systems design. If the U.S. wants to continue to grow its economy, it needs women in tech.

Let’s dive deeper into the numbers.

By The Numbers

Women are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly in technology and engineering, which accounts for 80% of the jobs in STEM. In fact, only 19% of CIOs at top firms are women, they make up only 6% of the board of directors of technology firms, hold only 26% of the computing jobs (and yet hold 57% of professional jobs) and 50% of women in STEM will eventually leave because of hostile work environments. Couple these facts with the projection that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings in the U.S. and only enough graduates to fill 29% of these jobs and we have a crisis coming in tech. Even Tim Cook cited this issue earlier this year.

In the startup world, only 17% of startups had a female founder in 2016 (yet women-owned firms account for 31% of all privately held firms in the U.S.) and a smaller percentage - 12% - received venture capital funding.

Why Changing the Numbers Matters

It is well known that having a robust pipeline of female leaders is good for company financials. In the startup world, the numbers are higher. A study by First Round Capital found that startup teams with at least one female founder outperformed all-male teams by 63%. Another study by the Kauffman Foundation found that, “(w)omen-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieve 35 percent higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bring in 12 percent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies”. And, “women entrepreneurs bring in 20% more revenue with 50% less money invested”. Clearly, changing the number of women in tech is not only the right thing to do - it’s the smart thing to do.

From the Front Lines

So, what is the view from front lines? Emerging Women Live, one of the top 2017 conferences for women as named by Forbes, has assembled a panel of women in tech to share their unvarnished stories from the front lines. The line up includes Sandi Mays, co-founder and CIO of Zayo Group, Bijal Shah, VP of Analytics at Ibotta, Chiara McPhee, co-founder, Bizzy (YC-backed, acquired by SendGrid), Andrea Young, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association and yours truly. This panel of women entrepreneurs and technology leaders will cover important topics from their personal experiences from the field, including the outlook for women in tech, why combatting unconscious bias is a critical differentiator in business, and how women can support each other at each company stage.

Come hear more at Emerging Women Live in Denver, October 5 through 8 in Denver. There’s a reason Forbes has endorsed Emerging Women Live as the conference “all about empowering women to become stronger forces in the work world and find their inner truths.”

Can’t join us in person? No problem: check out the FREE LIVESTREAM: http://bit.ly/2hhkXF8

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Written by Co-founder and CEO of Pipeline, Katica Roy with contributors Sandi Mays, co-founder, EVP & CIO of Zayo Group, Bijal Shah, VP of Analytics at Ibotta, Chiara McPhee, co-founder, Bizzy (YC-backed, acquired by SendGrid), Andrea Young, CEO of Colorado Technology Association

Katica Roy is an ambassador for gender equity in the workplace and beyond. She is the CEO and co-founder of Denver-based Pipeline, a SaaS platform that leverages artificial intelligence to drive economic gains through closing the gender equity gap.

Ellevate Network is a global women’s network: the essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together, we #InvestInWomen.

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