Vivek Wadhwa: We Need Your Stories and We Need Them Now!

Vivek-Wadhwa-Lounging-Around

Singularity University’s Vivek Wadhwa got the ball rolling on a crowdsourced project to collect the stories of women working in the innovation economy worldwide. Now he needs women to step up and share their experiences, he tells Women 2.0.

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Globally, women are increasingly participating in and shaping the innovation economy, driving changes to technology and juggling new roles with more traditional ones. How do they manage, and how do their experiences differ if they’re in Mumbai or Mountain View, Boston or Buenos Aires? How could they contribute even more?

Those are the sort of questions author and VP of innovation and research at Singularity University Vivek Wadhwa wanted to get at when he spearheaded the creation of Innovating Women, a groundbreaking crowdsourced campaign to collect the stories of innovative women worldwide and spark a discussion about their contributions and experiences.

The project has now launched but it needs your support – both in the form of participation in the Indiegogo campaign and the project’s story-sharing platform. Wadhwa spoke to Women 2.0 about his vision for the project, its progress thus far, and who should contribute their stories.

Why did you decide to crowdsource the research for this project?

Take Sheryl Sandberg’s book. It was her story. She did a great service, but most women can’t relate to it, so what I wanted to do, essentially, was let them share their knowledge. Take the stories of women all over the world and synthesize that. Get as many broad experiences as we can, because what normal human beings face is different than what Sheryl Sandberg faces, so get the stories of great women who defied the odds and achieved success.

Do you think the conversation about women in tech often focuses on too narrow a subset of women?

Every woman has a different experience. Each has her own strengths and her own weaknesses, and this is why it’s important to be able to share those experiences and get a broad set of input from different women. In other words, you learn many lessons and see what’s in common. This is what this whole crowdsourcing platform will let us do. We’re getting amazing stories, touching stories, women sharing how they defied gravity. We’re going to have an amazing resource here after the book is completed.

Who should share their stories?

I want everyone because each has a different story. Even if they think their stories are not that important, let’s post them anyway. What we’re doing, essentially, is posting dozens of questions, and some women can answer some questions better than others, so let them go in and start answering the questions.

What is your vision for the project? What are trying to achieve? 

I want to first of all educate and inspire women. Then I want to raise some money to send women to Singularity University’s graduate studies program so they can learn about advances in technology and start some amazing companies and then save the world!

So modest goals, then?

Absolutely! We also have Google matching dollar for dollar, and there’s going to be other sponsors matching whatever we have on this campaign, so it’s going to be magnified many times over. It’ll do a lot of good.

Is time of the essence?

It’s not an indefinite campaign. We can’t waste time.

When does the project close?

In about another three or four weeks. That’s the advantage of crowdsourcing — you can get massive amounts of information together very rapidly. Women are maybe thinking they can do this over summer. No, the time is now!

What’s your final message to women interested in contributing?

You asked for this. I floated a trial balloon at the Women 2.0 Conference. I said, ‘I want to do this thing. Who’s interested?’ There was resounding applause. People lined up to see me afterwards. Well, I did what I said I was going to do. Now I want Women 2.0 members to keep their end of the bargain.

Women 2.0 readers: Have you contributed your stories to Innovating Women yet?

Jessica Stillman is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.