At this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston, I had the opportunity to sit down with Telle Whitney, the CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, to discuss the successes and challenges that women in tech face, and why this year is “our time to lead.” A computer scientist by training, Whitney cofounded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing with Anita Borg in 1994. This year’s event hosted a record 12,000 attendees, a 50% jump from last year, and included women from academia, government and the tech industry.
Samantha: Tell me why you decided to name the Grace Hopper conference a “celebration” of women in tech?
Telle: We founded the Grace Hopper Celebration in 1994. At the time, there was a lot of angst about the issues of women in technology, and we purposefully wanted it to be a celebration — celebrating the work women are doing in the computing area.
Samantha: That was 21 years ago. How has the conference changed since then?
Telle: When we started the conference, we had about 500 women attending. Today, we have 12,000 women from 66 countries and 1000 different organizations. The topic of women in technology has become front of mind. The conference has become a cornerstone of the work that women in tech are doing today.
Samantha: What has changed for women in computing and technology since 1994?
In today’s world, having two kids and a full-time job is a lot for most women to handle. So when I listened to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki talk about how she manages raising five kids — ages 8 months to 15 years old— while running a multi-billion dollar company, I wanted to bow down and kiss the ground on which she walks.
Wojcicki shared the stage with actress and founder of The Honest Company Jessica Alba and CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King at the Women in Leadership Keynote at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this week.
King, who moderated the discussion, quipped, “Five kids by the same husband? I love hearing that.”
The inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit was Salesforce’s innovative approach to continuing the conversation on how to advance women in the workplace and close the gender gap in technology. In addition to Wojcicki and Alba, other influential women took the stage throughout the conference, including Academy Award winner & activist Patricia Arquette, CoderDojo CEO Mary Moloney, and Re/code’s Kara Swisher.
Rather than bemoan “why women still can’t have it all,” Wojcicki and Alba discussed how to balance work and family and what still needs to change to attract and retain more women in tech.
“Computer science has a reputation that isn’t accurate and has scared away a lot of women,” said Wojcicki. “When you think of computers, Silicon Valley and startups, you think of a bunch of guys sitting at computers.”
Indeed, television shows like Silicon Valley and The Big Bang Theory have helped perpetuate the stereotype of the nerdy “boy genius” programmer, or “brogrammer,” coding alone in a dark room into the wee hours of the night.
Stay-at-home moms– Don’t fall for the chatter that “opting out” of the workforce to raise kids sounds the death knell for your career. It is possible to get back in. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low in August– 5.1%. The jobs are there; it’s just a matter of finding one that is right for you.
Moms who have been out of the workforce for a while face a host of challenges, from explaining gaps in their resume to brushing up on skills to negotiating salaries. Wynn Burkett, a San Francisco-based career coach who runs “Getting Back in the Game” workshops for moms re-entering the workforce, says the biggest obstacle women face is loss of confidence.
“One of the biggest fears women have is feeling obsolete, like their previous skills and experiences are no longer relevant,” explains Burkett. “Stay-at-home moms often ask themselves, ‘Do I still have what it takes to be successful in the workplace?'”
While job hunting may seem like a daunting task, here are 10 practical steps you can take to help you decide what you want to do in your “next act” and how to get there.
1. Perform a self-assessment.
This means thinking deeply about why you want to go back to work. Whether you’ve been out for two years or ten, you need to assess what it is that you want and expect from your next job, or possible career. Are you going back to work for the money? To be in the presence of other adults? Because you want to find more meaning in your life? Your reasons for working at this stage in your life may not be the same ones that drove you in your pre-baby years.
I’ve recently noticed my two daughters taking an interest in Minecraft, an imaginative video game in which players can build — and take apart — constructions out of three-dimensional cubes. It’s kind of like Legos on steroids.
At first, I was resistant to the idea of my young girls (ages 7 and 11) playing video games. My sons — and husband — have always been the “gaming” junkies in our household. My girls have been more interested in singing, dancing and finding any excuse to be up on stage. Frankly, I liked that they weren’t glued to a computer screen.
I didn’t realize that by condoning this gendered disparity in my children’s play, I was inadvertently sending them a message that video games and computers are just for boys — not to mention contributing to the nationwide wage gap.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, girls today are steering away from math, science and computers in record numbers. The percentage of women graduates in computer science is at a 39-year low. In the mid-1980s, 37% of computer science majors were women; in 2012, that number had dropped to 18%.
While women make up more than 51% of the U.S. workforce, they hold just 26% of computing-related jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In Silicon Valley, the numbers are even worse. Recent diversity data from tech giants like Facebook, Google and Yahoo reveal that women hold on average just 16% of the tech jobs.
To start a successful business, look for a great problem first and then try to find a great solution.
Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit, an on-demand marketplace for outsourcing errands, came up with the idea for her business on a cold, snowy night in Boston in February 2008. She and her husband were at home, ready to go out to dinner, when they realized they were out of dog food for their 100-pound yellow lab, Kobe.
“We were thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone in our neighborhood who could grab us the dog food?” Busque told the audience at the Next: Economy conference in San Francisco this month. “Maybe there was even somebody at the store this very moment and wouldn’t it be nice if we could connect with them and say, ‘Hey can you grab us this bag? Happy to pay for your time.’ And the conversation that evening evolved into what became TaskRabbit.”
Many entrepreneurs will agree, the best products get made when the founders come upon a problem in their own lives that needs to be solved. By addressing a pain point, they become deeply connected to their mission, and, in essence, become their own first customer.
Steve Wozniak’s problem in 1975 was that he wanted his own computer. Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to search the web.
“You’re just a busy mom,” the doctor told me after reading aloud my test results that showed no signs of any medical condition that would account for my chronic fatigue: no anemia, no hyperthyroidism, no urinary tract infection or heart issues–all possible causes of extreme exhaustion.
“Try to give yourself a break,” he recommended. “Take time to exercise every day, and make sure you get enough sleep.”
But I did exercise, and I was getting enough sleep.
It wasn’t until I went to see a nutritionist, on the advice of a friend, that I got the wake up call that I needed. The nutritionist had me keep a food diary for a week, where I wrote down everything that I ate and drank each day. The results were eye-opening.
My breakfast consisted of a double soy mocha (I am lactose intolerant), followed by a muffin or piece of fruit at mid-morning. My lunch was a sandwich on a baguette with tuna salad or turkey. My dinner consisted of 2 glasses of wine, lots of pasta (I was always starving by dinner time), bread with butter, and some type of meat or fish. I’d make a green salad but wouldn’t eat much of it. After dinner I craved something sweet- soy ice cream and a handful of M&Ms usually did the trick.
“Of course you feel dull and drowsy most of the day,” my nutritionist told me. “You are living on carbs, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.”
Read Full Article: Tired All the Time? It Could Be What You’re Eating