It was an exciting time earlier this week for the startup and technology world. From September 21 to 23, TechCrunch, a prominent technology media property company, held its annual Disrupt conference in San Francisco. TechCrunch Disrupt featured the latest and newest small businesses with goals to present new ways to use technology and to improve and support different aspects of our lives.
When it comes to women and technology/startups, it's obvious that the relationship still needs to be improved and today people are aware of this more than ever. Disrupt held a diversity panel conversation for the first time since 2010 moderated by Alexia Tsotsis. Panelists included Joyus's founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Pintrest's engineer Tracy Chou, and OneLogin's engineer Isis Anchalee who agreed that diversity conversations are still needed until diversity is no longer a question.
Tsotsis explained, when it came to talking about women in tech, the conversation is often spun negatively and it's generally thought that the inclusion of women is a hassle. Chou went on to say that hiring women is a good thing. Data shows that diversity in the workforce not only better reflects society and consumers but performance goes up, consumer response is better and ROI increases significantly.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) September 23, 2015
So how can the diversity problem be fixed? Singh Cassidy encouraged women to build greater networks. In her opinion, men did want to include women, they just didn't know where to find them.
It's also a matter of retention and community, as Achalee, who was the catalyst of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag, notes. The career life of a woman in tech is, on average, 7 years so what needs to happen is that companies need to be supportive of women in these roles, especially when women choose to have families.
The conversation concluded with talk about the "unconscious bias," a familiar term for those who kept up with the Ellen Pao case. The women of the panel suggested that decision-makers should challenge their judgments and assumptions about engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs who are female or ethnically diverse. Decision makers and society as a whole should try and approach every person with curiosity and an open-mind.