Wall Street Journal: Where are all the women in the start-up sector? According to data from the Dow Jones VentureSource, in 2009, only11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing had current or former female CEO's or founders. More media coverage of successful women entrepreneurs, role models, and women on panels at conferences could help to shift the gender dynamic in an area where the "good idea is supposed to trump social status."
"Only about 11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or female founders, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource. The prestigious start-up incubator Y Combinator has had just 14 female founders among the 208 firms it has funded. The “where-are-all-the-women” meme is a familiar one, and not confined to the technology world. But in start-up land, where the good idea is supposed to trump social status and everything else, the lack of women in positions of authority stands out. There is no shortageof opinionsabout the cause, but regardless, some techie women are – in true start-up fashion – attacking the problem with meetups, money and social networking.
Start-up executive Dina Kaplan and Gilt Groupe CEO Susan Lyne and the Paley Center for Media CEO Pat Mitchell run a group – which they call the “Breakfast Club” — of young and established tech and digital media executives who meet for professional networking, social support and swapping practical advice about running young digital companies.
Another group called “Change the Ratio” aims to shine a light on women in entrepreneurial roles, and to address the dearth of women at start-ups. Technology investors Fred Wilson and John Borthwick said the industry needs catalysts to spark a virtuous circle of more successful women-led tech start-ups leading to more women in tech start-ups.
“From successes come role models and from the role models come change,” said Union Square Ventures’ Mr. Wilson, who recently called for more diversity in the start-up world."
I am finished writing and thinking about socially conservative Texans (for now). But I still have history texts on the mind.
Here’s the dilemma: in a conversation with a like-minded male progressive, I was surprised to realize that, while sympathetic to the fact that girls have few female role models to read about in school, he didn’t see an obvious solution. He thought maybe a few more women could be highlighted, but he offered the following to explain why men would continue to outnumber women in the texts for years to come:
Miller-McCune: A new report in Psychological Science, argue women perceive STEM careers (those in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as largely incompatible with one of their core goals: engaging in work that helps others.
Under the Microscope, an online space hosted by The Feminist Press "where women and science connect," just posted a fascinating conversation with Alice Domurat Dreger, a bioethicist and author who I know from her work on intersex activism. Here's a snippet for your reading pleasure:
UtM: Are there any particular issues in bioethics you want to tackle or anything in particular you are working on now?
Twenty years ago, women were awarded twice as many computer science degrees as they were in 2008. Of course, there are more fields open to women today. But that only explains part of the reason this well-paid, fast-growing field is losing women.
“Though we can’t be certain of the cause of the decline, research suggests several likely possibilities,” says Catherine Ashcraft, senior research scientist at the National Center for Women & Information Technology at the University of Colorado. “Many of these are related to the image of computer science and the lack of female role models and mentors. Girls get subtle messages from all sorts of places — the media, popular culture, parents, teachers, school counselors, other authority figures — that computer science isn’t really ’something girls do.’”
Half the world's 14 self-made female billionaires--that is, those who didn't benefit from inherited fortunes--have struck it rich on China's mainland. They include Hong Kong entrepreneur Chu Lam Yiu, who peddles ingredients to China's tobacco companies, and Xiu Li Hawken, a U.K. citizen who helps run below-ground shopping centers in China. Hawken is one of three self-made women to debut on this year's billionaires list after their companies went public on Asian stock exchanges in the past 18 months. Another real estate fortune belongs to Wu Yajun, who took her Longfor Properties public in November and is now the world's richest self-made woman.
A variety of circumstances has led to the increasing success of female entrepreneurs, says Linda Xinrong Kausch, a Shenzhen-based writer who is writing about a book about how 12 Western businesswomen achieved success in China. The development of a hospitable social and economic environment has been crucial, she says, which not only allows but also encourages women to get an education and start their own companies. Another factor is the constantly changing market regulations of a developing economy, which afford more flexibility and less red tape than a place like Europe. Plus, she adds, it's a matter of pride for these women to make a tangible contribution to their family and to the nation.
A report on the underrepresentation of women in science and math by the American Association of University Women, to be released Monday, found that although women have made gains, stereotypes and cultural biases still impede their success.
The report found ample evidence of continuing cultural bias. One study of postdoctoral applicants, for example, found that women had to publish 3 more papers in prestigious journals, or 20 more in less-known publications, to be judged as productive as male applicants.
The report also found that girls have less confidence in their math abilities than boys with equivalent achievement levels. Because most people choose careers where they believe they can do well, the report said, girls’ lesser belief in their skills may partly explain why fewer young women go into scientific careers. Both the university women’s report and the Bayer survey stress the need for more female mentors and role models.
But even as women earn a growing share of the doctorates in the STEM fields, the university women’s report found, they do not show up, a decade later, in a proportionate number of tenured faculty positions.
According to national studies, women hold more than half of all professional occupations in the U.S. but fewer than 24 percent of all computing-related occupations, representing a huge pool of untapped talent. The numbers are not moving in favor of increasing women’s participation in technology; in 2008 women earned only 18 percent of all computer science degrees. Back in 1985, women earned 37 percent of CS degrees, nearly double today’s share.
There are more medical women today in academia as students, residents and faculty than ever before. However, a certain silence continues to dismiss the challenges they face in balancing career demands, family life, gender biases and harassment. This same silence continues to perpetuate a culture that is inhospitable to the retention of women in academic medicine.