Help us build the tech world's first startup residency space with gender parity. By Kaitlin Pike (Director, WeWork Labs SF)
I have a not-so-secret agenda for the brand new WeWork Labs SF. I want a lot of women filling our desks.
“You want 50% of our members to be from 50% of the population? That’s just crazy!” my co-director, Dave Nugent, sarcastically said when I told him.* Looking at most of the startup scene and incubators out there, the situation is unfortunately one big joke. [See: “Brogramming” / Modern variations include: “Brahgramming”]
As of today, 1/3 of the applicants we’ve accepted and signed on have been women including a few female founders. This rocks my socks. But I’d love to push this ratio even closer to full equality. And that’s why I’m writing for Women 2.0: I need more of my fellow women to join us and help us build the tech world’s first startup residency space with a 50/50 percent gender ratio.
This is gonna be difficult for two reasons. Problem the first: The sheer number of men in the tech startup scene > number of women. We can fix this through more mentoring of women, getting more women into the educational pipeline for engineering, improving treatment of women in tech workspaces, etc. But this is not something you or I can solve in the short-term. Bummer.
Problem the second: Many women fail to promote themselves well, holding off on applying for competitive programs because… um… I suppose we can read a lot of pseudo-science on the matter. Or we can agree with Clay Shirky in his rant about women.
Luckily, we have plenty of evidence for how to solve problem the second, which is why I’m here today: When you have open calls asking women to step up and apply, and when you seek out and invite individual women who kick butt and would be perfect for the community, you actually get substantially more women to join.
(Note: I’m straight-up hijacking this idea from “The Twitter Book” co-author Sarah Milstein, my former colleague on the Web 2.0 Expo shows. See her Radar post on improving conference diversity, Would I Attend My Own Conference?)
I’m looking to talk to every awesome female founder, techie, startup nerd, and geek you know. Tell them to apply here, and to apply right now. Or to just swing by 156 Second Street and ask for the ginger.
At WeWork Labs, we’re looking to connect with the best and the brightest to create innovative new technologies, products and services. But we can’t do this if we neglect half the talent out there.
Thanks for reading. See you in the Labs.
*Dave and my other co-director, Seth Blank, deserve big, big props for their support of this crazy endeavor. You both are true gentlemen.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Kaitlin Pike is the Director of WeWork Labs SF. She is also the charming organizer of SF Nightowls, a late night coworking group, and a mentor at RallyPad. Prior to WeWork, she was the Marketing & Community Manager for Web 2.0 Expo. A startup veteran, she may be able to help you out (on a consultant-basis/for pie) with your copywriting, marketing, or social media woes. You can bug her about startup failures, late night coworking, and whatever else is on your mind on Twitter at @kcpike.