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On Wednesday, November 12th I had the privilege of attending UP Global’s Women’s Policy roundtable in Washington DC. For two hours, 50 community leaders sat in a room and had discussions around how women (and men) can change perceptions regarding the gender gap and strengthen policy reform.

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UP Global’s Regional Manger, Seijen Takamura and Google’s Breanna Zwart kicked off the forum:

“We are all here to build upon the white paper’s key ingredients for fostering thriving startup ecosystems: Talent, Density, Culture, Capitol, and Regulatory Environment. With support from UP Global’s initiative #StartupWomen, today’s discussions will focus on public and private sector policy reform.”

Each table of participants was prompted to discuss the following questions:
How did you get to where you are today, and what helped you along the way?
How else can we frame this issue to engage policy makers and industry leaders to effect change?

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The following personal testimonies were overheard: 

“I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur. I’m a problem solver.”

“Women believe there’s only room for a few women on the top. That’s just not true!”

“It’s our responsibility as a collective group for every women to go in and ask for what you’re worth.”

“Fortunately, in programming, the code speaks for itself.”

“Surround yourself with people who encourage you along the way. Your biggest allies are the people who see your passion.”

“Talking to people and getting it out of your brain is key! Don’t give up. The more I talk to people, the more I come across new ideas.”

“This shouldn’t be framed as a ‘feel-good’, ‘help the women’ issue. Women make or influence 80 percent of consumer purchases. It’s good business to invest in women. It’s not a philanthropic effort.”

“Being a programmer myself, I would often forget that I was a women. The bigger barrier I had was the age gap.”

“I’m constantly asking myself, ‘Am I being too nice?’ The answer is YES. Don’t be afraid to ask for how much you’re worth.”

“You can be girly AND code!”

“You’re not going to get paid what your worth but what you negotiate.”

 

I was honored to share a table with three industry leaders. Here’s what they had to say: 

UP Global, startup women UP Global, Startup Women UP Global, Startup Women

 

At the end of our forum, the entire group determined these next steps for action:

  • The power is in informing and educating women
  • Have a baseline, find the data and then use those numbers to incentivize
  • We need to recognize women as business owners
  • Women need to support other women instead of climbing over them
  • Take women out of the gender diversity box
  • We need to look at the gender gap as women’s empowerment instead of victimization
  • Lead by example
  • We need to engage our brand influencers
  • Money talks, it’s not men vs women
  • Engage men!
  • Help legislators see the win-win situation of supporting women entrepreneurs
  • Business moves faster than government, if we leverage corporate social responsibility it will set the trend
  • We need to challenge the messages that are being sent to women and girls before they enter the business world
  • Do we need hard regulation? Example: minimum number of women participation

How would you answer the question: How else can we frame this issue to engage policy makers and industry leaders to effect change?

#womenspolicyforum #startupwomen


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