As one of the few male members of the organizing crew for Startup Weekend San Diego Women’s Edition, I feel privileged to participate in an event that is working towards gender equality. Being a feminist, I don’t believe that women are better than men, but rather that women should be treated as equal to men. I would like to share my feelings about why I feel like what we’re doing at Startup Weekend Woman’s Edition is important, and what it means to me personally as a member of the San Diego tech community.
There is a very clear problem among technology companies in the United States. Despite half of the workforce being female, tech companies do not employ 50% women. Statistics from Google released in 2014 highlight this problem: only 30% of Google’s employees are female and only 17% of engineers are female. Although this isn’t a representative sample of all tech companies, it’s safe to say that Google is an industry leader and often sets the standard for other companies to follow. Women aren’t getting jobs in tech, and I think that it’s tough to put a finger on exactly what the root cause of this skewed ratio is. There a few reasons like the fact that as of 2012 women make up only 11.2% of all computer science and engineering degrees awarded. But there is also a cultural problem in tech companies and many of them have been known to have a “frat boy” culture that isn’t inclusive or welcoming of women. Although it is harder to change the physical numbers of women who get STEM related degrees, it’s not hard to change the culture around tech companies. This is a huge reason why I think having events like Startup Weekend Women’s Edition is an example of taking a step in the right direction for the future.
I don’t just think that females would be great in technology companies, but I also know they can be amazing entrepreneurs. Growing up, I was lucky enough learn life lessons from a strong entrepreneur. My grandmother Mary Patt Dorr grew her photography hobby into an iconic local business in Manhattan Beach. I learned a great number of life and business lessons from her. I never thought twice that she was a woman, or that what she was doing wasn’t common. Later on in my life, now that she has passed, I have to say that what she accomplished was nothing short of amazing. My grandma is a fantastic example of how to grow a local business and build a very popular brand.
I think that what we are doing at Startup Weekend Women’s Edition is powering innovation and creating a cultural setting that is optimal for moving towards gender equality in business and beyond. There are a few things that I wish to gain from interacting with the attendees at this Startup Weekend; I hope that the attendees of this weekend will be committed to teamwork, innovation, and continuation. But most importantly, I hope that everyone that comes to Startup Weekend will leave with a sense that they helped take a step forward towards equality.