Vivek Wadhwa’s and Farai Chideya’s new book, Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology, launches September 2. It’s an Indiegogo crowd-funded book, backed, for the most part, by women. Like me.
It gets my vote as recommended reading.
For those of you who don’t know who he is, Vivek Wadhwa is an entrepreneur and educator. In 2010, Vivek Wadhwa wrote an article censuring Silicon Valley for gender inequity. He specifically called Silicon Valley out about the lack of women on the technical and funding decision-making side of the startup equation.
Wadhwa openly addressed one of the biggest elephants in the investment and technology room. To put it delicately, he was blindsided by the negative, and sometimes downright hostile, response to his article. He pissed off a lot of men.
Subsequently, Wadhwa decided to investigate why women were so absent from the growing culture of tech startups and investment. Innovating Women is the result of compiling the answers to this question.
The book is comprised of 12 riveting chapters by successful women entrepreneurs, founders and funders, who tell their stories. And oh what stories they have to tell.
Some of you will recognize their stories as your own story. I know I did.
The book contains sobering statistics on how the corporate deck still remains stacked in favor of the guys. It’s a testimonial to the fact that women comprise half the globe, are the objects of every marketer’s product-development desire, yet fill an appallingly low percentage of investment and tech-related jobs.
If we collectively are targeting global economic recovery, this currently stacked deck must be redistributed and balanced.
One of the battles Wadhwa fought, in compiling data for this book, was getting companies to admit there was a problem in the first place. The next step was prodding these companies to disclose their gender data. It wasn’t pretty. It’s getting better. In the four years since his original article, these high-profile companies are making small strides to correct the tech gender skew among their ranks.
The book provides a compelling, and statistically well-documented, case for why gender inequity is still alive and well, especially in STEM-focused coursework in education, tech startups and the investment community. It’s also a testimonial to the fact that women are naturally hard-wired to be innovators, in spite of social, economic, cultural and attitudinal barriers to entry and/or success.
This book is the start of a dialogue and an invitation to continue that dialogue.
As a consultant, strategist and mentor to technical startups and small to midsized businesses, I’ve often been the only woman in the room. I still am. I’d like to see that change. That’s why I backed this Indiegogo project, as a small way of moving the fulcrum to leverage that type of change.
Enjoy your read. I did.
Babette Ten Haken is Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC. She catalyzes action for business transition, startup growth and professional development. Babette focuses on non-traditional sellers: small to midsize manufacturing and engineering service companies and startups like yours. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business, focuses on collaborative value creation strategies.