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If you’re a female and you have ever attended a startup community event, you may have noticed that you might be one of few women in the room. You may have even been the only woman in the room. And you may have noticed that this is a common occurrence.

My co-organizers have all recognized the same thing I have seen: because women are often just a fraction of the attendees at a startup event, the focus and atmosphere just isn’t always conducive for women to truly participate comfortably – whether it be a pitchfest, hackathon, or hey – Startup Weekend.

This isn’t unique to startup culture, of course. Inequality in the workplace forms spaces where women aren’t able to contribute to their full potential. When it’s more difficult to be heard, the likelihood of stepping up into a role or responsibility is even more difficult. When you throw a tech-centric event into the mix, where women are typically outnumbered by men, the politics of gender, power, and privilege become a bigger issue. It’s already tough enough to step up in front of a lot of people, pitch an idea, and work the crowd! If you look out into a sea of faces and see very few faces that resemble your own, how encouraging is that? What if you’re introverted? What if you’re shy?

On top of the bravery it takes to stand up, pitch, and pour your heart and soul into a weekend of building a business, it’s a lot to face the dynamic created by inequality. We want to remove the pressure of that dynamic and provide a space where women can feel less like the minority, and more like the faces in the crowd are there to hear them out. As a women who have often been the only gals in the crowd, we know that it will make for an entirely different experience – for both women and men.

We’re excited to make this an event about empowering women. One really great part about that is that it doesn’t mean that just women should attend; some of our organizers are men, and they, too, understand that equality takes all of us. We hope you will join us and show us the energy and enthusiasm that comes with believing in an equal and empowering setting for women.

Overall, we really want to see women shine at this event. We want to see more women pitch, more women lead, and more women feeling empowered after leaving this event. We want to see this event make a difference in women’s lives and we’re excited to do this with Startup Weekend in sunny San Diego.


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Jennifer Newell