Ladies first? Women and Innovation, the latest trends

InnoTrends is a monthly trends analysis by innovation segments.

This month has been a lot about how to better integrate female workers in the IT industry. Three main events for that: Silicon Valley’s top companies unveiling the massive women shortage among their resources and assets, triggering a range of supportive programs to increase the number of girls to follow STEM related degrees at universities and schools, and a whole lot of women prizes, including youngest Nobel Prize ever, Malala.  

A shared sense of emergency

InnoTrends Sense of Emergency
InnoTrends Sense of Emergency

Fighting Clichés

Press and Medias
Press and Medias

In Les Echos, Julie Le Bolzer explains how Valérie Rocoplan tried to investigate professional stereotypes on women at work. She mentions emotivity, lack of availability and authority as being the main clichés. She argues that women are workers as any others, with different backgrounds and set of experiences and skills. As a way to develop feminine presence on boards, she advises ladies to create their own management style. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, committed an impactful communication mistake when allegedly advising women to wait before they ask for a pay rise, as Julien L. from Numerama explains. He then apologised via Twitter to publicly recognise that the inequalities between men and women at work had to end. As Le Monde reminds, only 29% of Microsoft employees are women. Kathie Johnston from The Boston Globe reminds how personal attitudes related to men-women relations at work were strongly impacted by clichés. It creates “fear of being offensive” for men, or being told “they’re hard to work with” as women. Sarah Ellison, senior economics lecturer at MIT said about the research she co-authored on diversity and workers happiness: “they liked the idea of diversity more than they likes actual diversity”.  The diversity issue isn’t spread evenly across sectors and company size, as explains Naomi Shavin from Forbes: “Larger companies with revenues promote more women, but globally, the percentage that do so is still only 49%, and in the US, it’s 44%”. In London, the issue has led Mark Boelat from The Guardian to highlight KPMG’s comments on women at work: “Technology companies with more women in their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment.”

Challenging metrics

Innovation Experts
Innovation Experts

Ann Stars from Innovation Policy reminds that in poorer part of the world, women are still struggling to find health services during pregnancy and for their newborns. A great part of these women isn’t able to access family planning advice or medication. “Various UN bodies have been working intensely over the past year to mold the post-2015 development agenda. It is encouraging to see that, thus far, sexual and reproductive health has been included in most drafts and discussions related to the Sustainable Development Goals.”, concludes the author. For his part, Roberto Baldwin from The Next Web reminds that diversity with a great D remains a challenge, with ethnicity as another driver. “In addition to being 71 percent male, the overall company is 60.6 percent Caucasian, 28.9 percent Asian, 5.1 percent Hispanic/Latino, 3.5 percent African American/Black, with the remaining 2 percent identifying as multi-racial, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.”

Changing the game

Schools and Institutes
Schools and Institutes

Francesca Dino from the Harvard Business Review explains how training for diversity proved less efficient than “efforts that established responsibility for diversity (such as diversity committees and diversity staff positions) were more effective and were followed by increases in diversity”. The efforts leading to attracting more women in IT industry would even have to challenge current rules, as Nigel Nicholson from London Business School explains: “We will never get more women into leadership so long as we persist in organising in ways that suit the biases of the competitive boys currently gaming the system, even when it’s not the best way to run things.” Lynda Gratton, her colleague from London Business School, explains how “To truly embrace diversity we must first be able to appreciate difference.”

Design Mindfulness

Research and Consulting Firms
Research and Consulting Firms

Albert Allen Bartlett from McKinsey explains in following interview for Tom Peters how  “the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” To overcome this shortcoming, explains further in the interview the importance of using both technologies and face to face meetings to get to know talents inside companies, not only through video conferencing but also by meeting “the human part”. He adds that women have a distinctive trait of “knowing how to do the workaround” that few men can deploy and sees benefits in including more women in teams to shortcut ideas that take a long time to roll-out and explain. To maintain organization flowing together, details in communication, finding the right allies and developing sustainable growth are key.

Getting things right

InnoTrends Getting things right
InnoTrends Getting things right

Philanthropy

Schools and Institutes
Schools and Institutes

The first solution is to look closer, as Jacki Zehner from the Stanford Social Innovation review explains: “To apply a gender lens is to deeply examine how culturally entrenched gender norms affect women and men differently, and then take these distinctions into account when identifying both the problems and the solutions. Applying a gender lens is about more effective philanthropy.” Shira Mor, from the Harvard Business Review, thinks that women can succeed only if they managed to combine their personal and professional personalities “not as in conflict, but as fundamentally compatible”. Could sport be another workaround to integrate women on the C-suite? Nanette Fondas reveals on HBR blog that a study conducted by EY Women Athletes Business Networks shows “women executives who once played competitive sports, in college or elsewhere, prefer to hire other people with athletics in their background”. Indeed, women are getting organized to offset current trend. Wharton University explains how in the midst of Silicon Valley women sharing experience and looking for constructive solutions, Vivek, who worked on a research on women and IT, could hear “a very positive message overall, and I’m hoping that they will inspire thousands of women now to take their rightful role in the innovation economy and to save the world.” Joan C Williams explains on Harvard Business Review how we should use bias interrupters to intentionally change cultural behaviours towards women. As she says, “First, bias interrupters are based on objective metrics, whereas cultural initiatives tend to rely on earnest conversations. Second, interrupters are iterative, so they allow companies to try small interventions and then scale them up. Last, interrupters build change into the basic business systems that perpetuate bias, so they are less likely to disappear when a new CEO decides that diversity is not an imperative.”

Unlocking girls’ greatness

Innovation Experts
Innovation Experts

Innovation experts report on outstanding initiatives that are taking place in the world to enable more girls to attend school. TED mentions in particular the testimony of Malala Yousafzai’s father relating how important it is that all children in the world attends school, young girls in particular. Young girls like his own daughter, Malala, whose life has been threaten just because she wanted to go to school. Another Nobel Prize winner, Leyma Gbowee, tells about her life transformation and her will to unleash potential of girls around the world. In a recent video, Malala Yousafzai herself encourage young girl to learn coding during the Europe Code Week organised in October.

Filling the gap

Press and Medias
Press and Medias

According to Selena Larson from ReadWrite, the BRAID program will help filling computer science classrooms with more young girls by providing 15 universities “$30,000 a year for three years to implement programs similar to the one that helped Harvey Mudd achieve 40% female enrollment in computer science classrooms. Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft have committed to funding the program”. Michael Carl from WND reports on a research that highlights the link between freedom of religion and women freedom. Upon Malala Yousafzai win of Nobel Prize, the president of the Swedish Committee that awarded her this exceptional distinction reminded in Les Echos that “children need to go to school, instead of being financially exploited”. In following article for Fast Company, Samantha Cole introduces five women entrepreneurs who share their best advice for young girls to pursue their career. The five advice share a common belief: we can only be successful if we accept to be who we are. And for some of us, it means being a lady. Even universities play the new game, as reports Lindsay Gilpin from Tech Republic. She mentions that “ For the first time since the school has been keeping records, there were more women than men (106 to 104) enrolled into an introductory computer science course for the spring 2014 semester at University of California Berkeley. The class changed the name from “Introduction to Symbolic Programming” to “Beauty and the Joy of Computing,” and female enrollment increased by 50%.” Once filled with knowldege and sure of who they are, all women need to do is to step-up. Nancy Vonk, on Fast Co-Create, writes that “Stage fright or any other barrier to the kind of visibility that means the advancement you deserve can be tackled today. Step one is knowing that life’s not fair. Let’s all get over it, and get what we want.

Market changes

Customers and Influencers
Customers and Influencers

Rules of markets have changed as well. As Valeria Murgich explains for Merca2.0, “40% of console games are women players and one out of five Wii players are aged 45-64 years old.”

Inspiring for STEM

Science and Technology Experts
Science and Technology Experts

In order to encourage young girls into STEM subjects in schools, associations have started “coding parties” in Washington DC. As Lauren Mafeo reports for The Next Web, “These programs, as well as the Made with Code parties, are an extension of a six-week summer camp that is hosted in partnership with Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu and Lockheed Martin. And the nonprofit also offers SHE-E-O Career Days, where their girls “speed network” with women in STEM careers. Thus far, more than 100 girls have networked with women at companies like Cisco, NASA, Exxon, and more.”  

Ladies who went first

InnoTrends Ladies who went first
InnoTrends Ladies who went first

Business Intelligence

Companies
Companies

Antivia software has presented a list of the most influential women in business intelligence. Among them, you’ll find: Mico Yuk, Founder and President at Everything Xcelsius ; Jen Underwood, Founder and Principal Consultant, Impact; Piyanka Jain, CEO of Aryng Consulting; Yvonne Jones, Data Integration Director at Shire Pharmaceuticals; Claudia Imhoff, Founder and President of Intelligent Solutions. The full list is available here.

Women entrepreneurs

Innovation Experts
Innovation Experts

Innovation experts also share their best women contacts among entrepreneurs and IT partners. On the entrepreneurs list, Norman Rozenberg from Project Eve, mentions:

  1. “Barbara Lynch Gruppo: Ask anyone who lives in Boston and he or she will rave about chef Barbara Lynch’s namesake company, which operates some of the city’s most prestigious—and profitable—restaurants and bars. Since opening her first eatery in 1998, the steakhouse No. 9 Park, Lynch has continued to draw crowds and critical acclaim, both in Beantown and beyond.
  2. LearnVest: LearnVest, which offers financial planning and budgeting guidance, was founded in 2009 by Alexa von Tobel. The certified financial planner (C.F.P.) has guided the company to success over the past five years, as she has raised more than $70 million in financing and spearheaded initiatives that have led to explosive growth in its customer base.
  3. Rent The Runway: Co-founders Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss dreamt up the concept behind Rent The Runway while they were classmates at Harvard Business School. On a trip home to New York City, Hyman was inspired by her sister’s frustration at not being able to afford a designer dress for an upcoming wedding. Rent The Runway was born of that need, as the company allows its more than 3.5 million members to rent dresses for a much smaller fee than they would normally cost at retail.
  4. Eventbrite: Eventbrite is an online ticketing service that lets organizers plan, set up, and market various events. Co-founded by Julia Hartz, the company also lets users buy and sell tickets on the platform, which has both processed billions of dollars worth of ticket sales and expanded into more than 175 countries. Hartz, who serves as the company’s president, has played an instrumental role in Eventbrite’s success, as she oversees its growth and in-house strategies”.

About women in tech, Craig Newmark posted below names on his blog Craig Connects:

  1. Kelly Hoey, @jkhoey, is a strategist, speaker, startup board member and angel investor focused on social/digital and the human motivations which fuel innovation. A connection-maker, networking strategist and expert community builder, Kelly is known for her leadership in building valuable professional networks, understanding the dynamics of engaged communities and the “how” of raising visibility, online and off.
  2. Women Who Hack, @WomenWhoHack, are casual get togethers for women who want to hack on projects with or around other women. All types of projects (software and hardware), languages, platforms and experience levels are welcome. Their goal is to support local women hackers (and aspiring hackers) by providing a safe, welcoming environment in which they can connect with and learn from each other. They’re based in Portland, OR.
  3. Kimberly Scott, @COMPUGIRLS, is the Founder of COMPUGIRLS, a culturally responsive technology program for adolescent (ages 13-18) girls from under-resourced school districts in Phoenix and Colorado. Kimberly is also Associate Professor of Women and Gender studies at Arizona State University and an Affiliate Faculty in George Mason University’s Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity”.

Talents and prizes

Press and Medias
Press and Medias

The list of successful women and young girls goes on in press and medias. Some names stand out as being a little more well-known, but all deserve to be mentioned as contributors to women success in science, biology, peace and fight for education, mathematics, finance and technology in Africa. The Guardian presents 5 talented women in Open Source, including “Carol Smith, Google, a California State University graduate with a journalism degree. Carol Smith manages Google’s Open Source Programs, including the Google Summer of Code, a global program that pairs student developers with mentors as they work on code for various open source software projects around the world”. Elaine Burke from Silicon Republic presents “8 inspiring girls making an impact on STEM and education”, among which “Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Émer Hickey, champions at the 2013 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition for their project, Combating the Global Food Crisis: Diazotroph bacteria as a cereal crop growth promoter. ” Amar Toor wrote an article for The Verge which mentions Malala Yousafzay life who “survived and went on to become a global advocate for the education of women. In 2013, she delivered an impassioned speech to the United Nations in New York, and created the Malala Fund to help empower young women around the world.” Bahar Gholipur from Live Science presents Mirzakhani who won the Fields Medal along with 3 other mathematicians, the most pretigious prize for this science. “This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians,” Mirzakhani said in a statement. Mfonobong Nsehe from Forbes reports on “Africa’s richest woman, Africa’s wealthiest woman taking banking empire to Namibia”. He explains how “Isabel dos Santos has reportedly been granted a provisional license by the Central Bank of Namibia to launch a local subsidiary which would operate as a banking institution in the country and trade under the name, Bank BIC Namibia Limited.” In Africa again, Ethel Cofie from CNN relates the story of hundreds of women who changed a pan-Africa meeting for Women In Tech Africa into a Twitter conversation. As Ethel explains, “Twitter conversation with the hashtag #WtechAfrica had the reach of 74,502 and 195,209 impressions on Twitter connecting female technologists all over Africa ably supported by one of our speakers Enyonam Kumahor.”

Digital talents

Research and Consulting Firms
Research and Consulting Firms

On the 30th of september, the French consulting firm Econocom has awarded 5 women with the Excellencia Prize. As a way to promote digital initiatives and highlight talents, the prize is supported by Econocom, EPITA (a French engineering school), Femmes du Numérique (Women in Digital), and Syntec committee.

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