Each year on August 26 we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, marking the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to participate more fully in the political process of the United States by voting. This is a day to recognize the brave, visionary women who fought for equal rights, and to honor those who continue to do so today.
Within our network, every day we see the crucial role women play in tech startups throughout the world. At the same time, there are serious obstacles standing in their way – and the trends aren’t exactly encouraging.
Since the early ‘90s, the percentage of women in tech decreased from 37 percent to 26 percent in the United States. Meanwhile, less than 7 percent of tech jobs in Europe are filled by women. For more on these studies, Tech Cocktail has a helpful (if depressing) infographic.
There are, of course, encouraging exceptions.
At a corporate level, Intel announced this summer it would invest $125 million in “businesses led by women and underrepresented minorities.” Apple claims that in the past year it has “hired more diverse candidates than in any other year to date,” with 35% of new hires being women – a number the company says it is committed to growing.
On a smaller scale, right here in Boulder three startups led by women raised more than $7 million in equity financing over a span of three weeks last year. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the great stuff going on at MergeLane, a Boulder-based GAN accelerator committed to broadening the on-ramp for women-run companies.
Everywhere we look, there are heroes to celebrate.
Like Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, who is out to teach a million young women to code by 2020.
Like Alicia Robb of the Kauffman Foundation, who champions women entrepreneurs at Startup Weekends and other events in places as far-flung as Guayaquil, Ecuador, and continues to write broadly, educating the public on the gender gap in tech.
Like Joelle Emerson, the CEO of Paradigm, who is working to identify and address the greatest barriers to diversity within fast-growing tech giants like Pinterest, Airbnb, and Slack.
These are just three of our heroes. But there are a lot more, and we are rooting for them. Recently, in conjunction with the White House Demo Day, GAN made a five year goal of increasing the share of women holding executive roles at both GAN accelerators and startups to parity.
Whoever your women-in-tech heroes are, take a moment today to celebrate them. Tell them why they inspire you. And let them know you’re cheering them on.