Written by By CATHERINE RAMPELL A few weeks ago, I wrote about ways to get more women interested in computer science. One of the points that came up frequently in my reporting is that some other STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have actually been quite successful attracting more women. To read the whole article, please visit this link: New York Times
Did you know that while it is no secret that the tech startup community is lacking women, this gender imbalance may actually be impeding startups? David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars, delves into this topic and provides tips for combating gender disparity in this Wall Street Journal blog entry.
Cohen references a 2010 study completed by researchers from MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union College on collective intelligence in groups. As Cohen points out, the study “found that groups with more women had a higher collective intelligence, which led to better group cooperation.” David also stresses the importance of creating a more balanced work team in stating, “This is not just a problem for women – it’s a big problem for all of us, because we’re missing out on immeasurable untapped talent, creativity and different points of view.”
Continue reading David’s post to learn more on his five tips that will help you create a more diverse startup culture. You can also learn more about related collective intelligence research from Christopher F. Chabris, a previous NCWIT Summit presenter, in his archived presentation titled, “Women and the Collective Intelligence of Human Groups.”
Did you know, according to a recent article featured on CIO.com, while many great leaders share similar characteristics, it may take a more specific set of skills to succeed as a tech leader? Today’s IT leaders face a unique set of challenges in comparison to other corporate leaders, including the rate and pace of change, the massive integration of systems and processes, cybersecurity and privacy threats, and many others. Personal and professional development is therefore critical in the demanding IT field.
“While there are some things one cannot change about individuals, some leadership traits can be learned. There are very few people who are natural leaders – leadership is something people have to work at. Knowing what your shortcomings are, and recognizing them as such, is half the battle,” says Allan Boardman, International Vice President at ISACA.
The 16 traits in this article can help you become more successful in a technology career.
Entry written by Allison Strouse
Hi, Girls in Tech! Allison Strouse here, your former co-editor. It has been a while since my last blog post, and I want to give an update on my latest adventure in tech. I am happy to announce that I have launched my own business, called Yarly.
Yarly’s mission is to help people get the most out of their memories. At Yarly, we are building a photo hub for archiving and organizing photos that gives you the power and flexibility to work with your photos the way you want to. Want to save some photos to DropBox and others to your desktop? Done. Want to share some photos to Facebook and others to Instagram? Done. Want to share certain photos with only specific people? Done. We are delivering a photo platform of choice delivered across all platforms, so you can have an organized and archived photo hub that gives you all of the flexibility and optionality that you want. Did I mention that you also own your data? Yeah, we provide that too.
Starting a business of my own has long been a desire of mine, but I wanted to take my time to make sure I had the proper skills to do it right. After three years as a Senior Manager at the leading online lead generation company, QuinStreet, and currently pursuing my MBA, the time felt right to take the entrepreneurial leap. However, I have learned that actually going through the start-up steps is where most of the learning is done, and I continue to learn every day. But before learned lessons become forgotten ones and new challenges take their place, I want to relay some of my learnings in hopes that I can inspire some of you take this very exciting leap. Here I go…
1. Have major conviction for your idea
In my eyes, Yarly is perfectly positioned to take advantage of four major current trends:
1) An explosion in the number of photos being taken (880bn expected to be snapped in 2014, up almost 100% from five years ago)
2) Popular social media photo-sharing sites becoming less and less private. We’ve seen this with recent Facebook changes such as the decreased age limit and mandatory profile search
3) Data privacy and control concerns due to recent NSA revelations
4) Increasing reputational concerns with social media – more than half of career recruiters now check your Facebook profile
Due to these four trends, there are more and more photos that simply sit on people’s camera rolls and sadly never get archived, shared and enjoyed. Yarly is designed to provide a cross-platform hub for organization and archival where users can interact with their photos in a way that suits the user. Photos are our most prided possession, and when people wake up to a sampling of photos scattered across social media platforms, where our data is no longer our own, users will demand a solution that works for them, not for advertisers.
Despite my very strong convictions for Yarly, there will always be the doubters out there. I’ve heard negative feedback including the crowded nature of the space to the deep pockets of large players. Where I see a huge market with a huge opportunity for disruption, there are many others who see impossibility. It has taken time to learn this, but I have finally become able to tune out the negative noise, and I’ve learned that this is critical for entrepreneurial success.
While I believe that all people give advice from a very kind place, this does not mean that I need to agree with them. This is easier said than done. When sticking to my convictions gets tough, I remind myself that this is what starting a business is all about. If there were absolute certainty that a business would work out, everyone would start one.
When this type of rationality fails…
Plan B: I think of other successful businesses and what they must have gone through in their early days. Google wasn’t the first search engine. I can only imagine the reactions they got when they decided to go up against Yahoo, AltaVista and a dozen others. Not only did they have many large competitors, but Google was competing in a space that proved zero customer loyalty at the time. At least for photos, a user gets more invested every time they use the product.
But when I still feel down…
Plan C: What about Ben and Jerry’s? When Ben and Jerry’s decided to start an ice cream company in 1978, I am pretty confident that people considered the ice cream space to be fully mature. When Ben and Jerry approached their friends and investors with the idea of innovating on ice cream, I’m sure they got a lot of crazy stares. We all know how this story ended. In fact, innovation in this market is still happening. In 2010, Melt Bakery was founded in the Lower East Side NYC, and they are innovating on the ice cream sandwich. I had my first one last week at the Madison Square Eats festival. Their red velvet meltcakes with cream cheese ice cream is delicious!
If we all listened to the completely realistic voices around us, these wonderful innovations in areas that many people consider to be “done” would sadly never come to be.
2. Team team team
I hear a lot of concerns from hopeful startup founders on finding a team, and they seem to put it off as long as possible. However, to the contrary, I think that having a team is the most fun part of a startup. There is nothing more fulfilling than going through this journey with others and experiencing the ups and downs as a unit. Also, with the experience of starting Yarly on my own and then bringing on a founding team, I can tell you from experience that things really get rolling only once a solid team is in place. I also couldn’t see an investor investing in a founder who hasn’t proven their skills in team building. Yes, bringing on other equity holders feels risky and unkown, but if you find the right people, embrace the partnership like they are family, and I assure you that this type of commitment, loyalty and trust is a lot of gosh darn fun.
3. Just do it
Last, but not least, my advice to entrepreneur hopefuls is to do as the Nike saying goes, “Just do it.” At every bump in the road, remind yourself of your accomplishments and how far you have come already. When there seem to be many reasons to turn around, take a moment to think about the reasons to forge ahead. This is when having a great support system at home comes in handy. These people will be the words of reason when you feel unsure. These are the people who will remind you of how much you have accomplished and how proud you should be so you can confidently take that next step forward.
I hope that these lessons learned will be helpful to the Girls in Tech community and beyond. As always, please feel free to reach out to me:
Diversity Expands The Qualified Employee Pool
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2018, there will be a total of nearly 1.4 million computing-related jobs added in the U.S., an increase of 22% from 2008. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the number of people graduating from college with computer or information sciences degrees has been decreasing steadily since 2004. At this rate, fewer than one-third of the vacant computing jobs expected by 2018 could be filled by U.S. graduates with computing degrees. Increasingly, non-IT jobs require deep knowledge of computing as well. A computing major or minor provides a versatile skill set that crosses disciplines and is essential in today’s information economy.
Diversity Improves the Bottom Line
Technology companies with the highest representation of women in their senior management teams showed a higher return on equity than did those with fewer or no women in senior management. A recent study determined that racial and gender diversity were associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater profits.
Diversity Enhances Innovation
Information technology informs all aspects of modern society. Incorporating women and people of color is vital to the future of technological innovation. When we bring a wider variety of people into IT, our innovation will be enhanced through the valuable contributions that diverse perspectives bring.
Diversity Promotes Equality
With technology playing an increasingly crucial role in all of our lives, having more people from different backgrounds participate in its creation break down gender and racial economic inequalities.
Below are ten important recommendations supervisors can readily adopt to improve retention for all employees. They are particularly useful for retaining women and employees from underrepresented groups.
- Sponsor female employees and make their accomplishments visible
Sponsorship means advocating for employees and showcasing their work in the right places and with the right people. Research shows that women with sponsors are four times more likely to remain with a company than those without a sponsor.
- Encourage female employees to take on specific roles and challenges
More than 350 studies show that being a minority in a particular environment can significantly reduce confidence and risk-taking but that simple encouragement can be a big help. Never underestimate the power of simply saying, “You should take on this role or apply for this position” or “You did well on this project.”
- Ensure that your team recognizes a diversity of communication styles
Some employees have been raised to believe that it is immodest to “sing their own praises.” Talk with your team about the importance of listening to a range of communication styles — not just to team members who speak loudly or most often or who feel comfortable talking about their own accomplishments. Actively seek out the perspectives of quieter team members.
- Provide female employees with clear opportunities to demonstrate their technical abilities
Give female employees explicit responsibility for technical assignments with defined deliverables and expectations. This enables women to demonstrate clearly their technical abilities — something that research shows can be more difficult to do when one is a minority on a team.
- Ensure that female employees know “it’s not just about technical ability”
Sometimes employees believe that doing a great job is all that is needed to get ahead; however, employees also must be well-rounded in business acumen, company politics, and knowledge of the industry landscape. Communicate this early on and help female employees develop a plan that will enable them to do this.
- Provide early, ongoing, and specific feedback
Do not rely on vague assessments such as “you need to be more of a team player.” Make sure all feedback is specific, compares actual performance to expectations, and includes concrete examples of things that have been done well or need to be improved.
- Treat employees as individuals, not as representatives of a group
Avoid calling attention to employees on the basis of their gender, race/ethnicity, or disabilities. While it is important to remember that members of underrepresented groups can share some similar experiences, do not treat employees as “token representatives” who can speak for an entire identity group.
- Examine task assignments for patterns that subtly disadvantage female employees
Women are often assigned or feel compelled to take less visible assignments or execution rather than creative roles. Keep track of which employees get which roles. If patterns emerge, ask whether these patterns are based on actual ability or if they might be based on unconscious assumptions.1
- Ensure that performance evaluation instruments or processes are results-based and avoid unconscious biases
Use concrete examples to support all evaluative statements. Make sure that promotion and resource allocation policies do not unfairly penalize employees (e.g., for utilizing flextime, working from home).
- Track recruitment, retention, and advancement
Keep tabs on the demographics of candidates who are interviewed and who accept positions, as well as employees who stay, leave, are promoted, and receive pay raises. This information will help you identify how well you are meeting your goals and where improvement is needed.
Drive traffic to your website - It is vital to increasing your leads, filling your sales pipeline, and eventually converting leads into sales. But before you can begin the sales process, you need to get prospects to your website. Here are a few tried and true ways to drive more traffic to your website and realize those higher lead and sales goals.
We usually take to the internet when we’re looking for information, so having a blog does wonders for your website’s traffic. Focus on posting relevant, timely content that your audience will find informative and useful. To streamline the process, use a blog management platform that has things like blog subscription, article scheduling, and blog analytics configured for you.
Still not convinced? Companies with active blogs secure 67% more leads than their counterparts who lack blogs (Source: Social Media B2B). Jump on that bandwagon!
2. Use Video
Video engages people in a way that written and static visual content cannot. They get to engage with your brand in multiple ways – seeing, hearing, and even “feeling” your message through the emotions and thoughts provoked by your video. How does this translate into increased website traffic? Posts accompanied by video pull in 3 times the number of inbound links than text-only posts (Source: SEOmoz). Not to mention, 85% of U.S. Internet users watch video online (Source: comScore).
3. Create Something Worth Sharing
The best way to get people to take notice is to craft something worth sharing. This means visually attractive, informative, and, if possible, humorous content that people find useful. When your content is worth sharing, your audience does half the work for you, spreading it all over the web and grabbing new eyes to come check out what you have to offer. Attract more website traffic by creating solid content.
4. Utilize Social Sharing and Social Media
Social media is invaluable for connecting with your audience. It allows you to talk to your customers, but more importantly it allows them to talk back. Foster dialogue through social sharing and social media. Your audience is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. – so shouldn’t you be? Plus, people love sharing. This sharing signals a stamp of approval and lets us know that ‘this is worth our time.’ Take advantage of your audience’s increased propensity to share information by being active on social media sites and enabling social sharing for all of your content, and by tacking on a link to your website. This will not only increase traffic to your website, but will also give your SEO a boost.
5. Utilize Calls to Action in PPC Ads and Landing Pages
The biggest mistake in sales: not asking for the sale. Similarly, you need to ask your prospects for something more. They can’t engage with you further if you don’t provide a next step. Utilize calls to action in your PPC ads and landing pages so that prospects have something to do: check out a free ebook (by providing your email), look at related content, etc.
6. Create Shareworthy Slideshare Presentations
Create slideshare presentations so good that others want to share. When you create rich, quality content that people share, it extends your reach online and drives prospects back to your website. It’s like casting a wider net to bring in a bigger catch. It also positions you as an expert in your field and gives SEO a leg up.
Harness the power of shareworthy content and timely information and watch your website traffic soar.
Article from ProjectEve