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Women in tech at Geek ‘n’ Rolla

Posted on 21 Apr, 2009 by in Huddle news | 3 comments

When Mike Butcher of TechCrunch asked me to participate in a panel on ‘Balancing Tech Culture’ at the Geek n’ Rolla , I thought I’d better find something to talk about. Enter ‘Getting women in start-ups’ research survey targeted at the tech and start-up industry. The results were predictable. They usually are on a 200 person sample. I am setting your expectations – it was not a scientific piece of research.

Women in tech are the minority in the UK. 33 per cent of women in start-ups said they had none or only one female colleague on staff, and 65 per cent admitted women were underrepresented in their firms. Worryingly, the majority of women in tech are in the low impact positions such as office management and manning the reception. Only one-third were employed in software or tech development.

Our panel tried to get to the bottom of why this number is so low and how we could fix it.  It was a heated debate (you can see the transcript here), led by Cate Sevilla of BitchBuzz with Sophie Cox of Worldeka, Leisa Reichelt of Disambiguity and Nacera Benfedda of Viadeo, with a brief appearance from Milo Yiannopoulos of The Daily Telegraph.

The answer: one hour is not enough to sort this out. There was no general consensus. We agreed that there may be several reasons behind the current situation including gender inequality, culture, lack of female role models and female VCs.

Personally, and that’s possibly because I spent five years doing sociological research on similar subjects, I believe it’s a cultural issue. It’s true, tech is a women-friendly industry – we are liberal and offer flexible working hours. Yet, I don’t see young girls queuing up to be the next Gina Bianchini. Can we have ‘balance in tech’? Sure, perhaps in 50 years, just when we are hitting the equal numbers of men and women in the government. Once again, it will all come down to education.

3 Comments

  1. babul

    April 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    You did a great talk. Really enjoyed it. Sorry never got chance to talk to you. Hopefully next time.

  2. Zuzanna

    April 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Definitely. We are going to be at Internet World next week!

  3. Simone Brummelhuis

    April 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

    hello, Zuzanna, I really enjoyed the conference and the women in tech panel. Always difficult to raise this issue, as some do not find it a problem at all..

    Anyway, I have been working on a database of female internet heroes, women, founding, leading or investing in internet business, i have published the first part of the list. Take a look, there are other Gina’s around.
    http://thenextwomen.com/female-internet-heroes/

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