Last month, we talked about the three main barriers inhibiting the rise of women in the tech entrepreneurship sector. We discovered they were based in a male-dominated society, a lack of women's confidence in the workplace and and a lack of clarity about tech jobs.
But how can we break the paradigm and bring more women on board?
I have outlined 5 key actions aimed to foster women in tech entrepreneurship.
1. Inspire women and young girls by highlighting female role models
As Alisee de Tonnac , CEO of Seedstars said: “Remember, success breeds success. Never underestimate the power of role models and let's make sure to amplify these stories!” If I am working for Seedstars and spending most of my time travelling to find talented entrepreneurs in Latin America, it is mainly because Alisee. She deeply inspired my three years ago when I sat in a cafe at the Geneva Train Station and interviewed her for my university magazine.
At the same time, there are so many other women I would like to name as role models. There is no need to be a CEO to inspire other people, and any humble woman building a project or business while taking care of others has an inspiring story to tell.
2. Connect and build the Sister Community
One of the main questions from the female entrepreneurs I met during my trip was to be connected with other women in the same situation. The most successful case in Latam is probably, Wexchange the first Latin American forum focused on connecting and empowering female entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses that exists since 2013.
The beautiful thing is that such a connection can start with very simple initiative and quickly grow into a community. In the words of Patricia Araque, the co-founder of Ellas², “you just need to plant the seed and soon many initiatives will be burgeoning.”
And that is exactly what happened this year with a group of women that I met in Lima. We decided to gather everybody together for a simple "Desayuno de Mujeres Emprendedoras" (Women Entrepreneur Breakfast) and now, 6 months later, they are producing a documentary about Peruvian women entrepreneurs in technology, Mujeres Empoderatec.
In Brazil, Alexandra de Haan, co-founder of Copacabana House Venture, created a group for women involved with capital investment. Just after a couple of months, the group has more than 85 women and great ambitions for 2017, such as a research about the state of female VCs in Brazil. I had the chance to take part to their second meeting last week at Neolaw's office in the vibrant city of São Paulo. So after Barny and his Bro code, when do we write our Sis Code?
3. Add a feminine touch to the tech entrepreneurship industries
It could start by simply having the picture of women on your tech products, as well as job advertising. Overall, job descriptions should also focuse more on the soft skills. It is important to emphasize the importance of empathy for building products.
4. Educate girls to use technology…
… such as with robotic workshops, or one day experiences in tech companies. I recently fell in love with Laboratoria, a tech social enterprise with a presence in Peru, Chile, and Mexico, that empowers young women from low-income backgrounds by teaching them to code.
I am also a huge supporter of Elemental, a Bolivian company that aims to teach kids the basic tools and knowledge to allow them to create a better future through technology. Such initiatives should be supported, and in the best case scenario, fully integrated in the regular school curricula.
Note that a better tech education is profitable not only for girls but also for boys. So also, make sure that kids and their peers are also aware of the diverse aspects of tech jobs.
5. Bring women and men together under the same cause – work-life balance and integration.
With the technology invading the world, our work and private lives are no longer separate. Nevertheless, millennials who will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2020 are looking for a healthier work-life balance. To reach this ideal, men and women should work together as a team.
I believe that more diversity and gender cooperation are the path to a better work-life integration. I hope for a society where men will be respected for choosing to spend more time with their families or even be the ones who stay at home, and where women will get the recognition and the respect they deserve. For example, Sweden is a country that understands it well and now offers the possibility for both parents to share maternity leave.
This is just a few ideas of what could be done to support women and girls to bring their ideas to reality and allow them to run their businesses. Enabling women to actively participate in economic activities, more specifically running their own business, is not something that will happen in one day.
Ana Lúcia Fontes is another great woman that inspires me. She was raised in one of the poorest regions of Brazil in family of 10 children and struggled to pay for her studies. She is now an accomplished and respected woman who among others founded the Rede Mulher Empreendedora, the first and largest support network for female entrepreneurs in Brazil. When asked if she thought that women can dominate the world, her answer was, “Yes, women definitely could dominate the world. But more important than that, I believe women can actually improve the world”.
Indeed, the idea is not to reach a female-centered culture. As the Incas suggested, it is more a question of balance because we need both energies, masculine and feminine, to improve and create a better world.
So the question is, are you ready to work together to achieve this?