While I’m happy to be a unicorn, I do often think about why there aren’t more women in tech, or even why we seem to be underrepresented in the wheeling-and-dealing world of start-ups and entrepreneurship. One reason that has been suggested is that there aren’t all that many of us already in tech/entrepreneurship/any male-dominated industry. Specific objections can revolve around concerns that there aren’t enough potential female peers or mentors in a given sector. The biggest problem with this is that it makes the status quo self-sustaining. Someone has to be first. Perhaps one answer is that, if you can’t find a female mentor, be one.
As I noted in my earlier post, Debenu’s head programmer is female. What I didn’t mention is that I aggressively pursued her for the post. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as though she was previously making her living by weaving baskets, singing arias or working as CFO of a fortune 500 company — although I’m sure she could do any of those things if she put her mind to them. She was already a seasoned software developer. I just thought she was working for the wrong company (i.e., not ours). Together, we set up Debenu’s main development office. She now manages that site, providing supervision and guidance to both male and female team members.
Our story isn’t unique, but it is unusual. Some day, the story of two women collaborating to help build a tech business might be so common as to be boring, that day isn’t today. As for mentorship, I have just joined an organization that provides investment capital, advice and support to entrepreneurs of both genders and from various industries. Someone might have to be first, but we needn’t be the last.