"You should have had more women on that panel" By Heather Harde (Vice Chairman, sf.citi)
“You didn’t have enough female-founder companies competing in the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt”… “You didn’t have enough women nominees for the Crunchies Awards”… “Your blog is not doing enough to advance women in technology”…
These were all regular refrains I heard when I was the CEO of TechCrunch for five years.
The feedback was frustrating to receive. On the one hand, I often wanted to snap back defensively that I was a female CEO of a tech startup, a graduate of the oldest women’s college in the US (Mount Holyoke College), that I had hired an employee base with over 50% women at TechCrunch, that we tried our best to showcase women leaders, and that I was basically doing my part so please take your criticism somewhere else more deserved. On the other hand, the feedback usually struck a sensitive cord with me as well… who did we overlook? What could we have done better? Was I really doing my best? Any criticism that creates sensitivity has some truth to it as well.
The answer, of course, is that there is always more to be done to advance women’s leadership, in tech and in general. You know that well, as part of the Women 2.0 network and community.
As women leaders in the tech community, we are in a unique position to improve opportunities for our female colleagues and for girls around the country who aspire to join our ranks. Today I encourage you to join two great causes working to achieve this goal: sf.citi and the Women & Girls Leadership Summit.
The San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation, or sf.citi, is a new organization changing the way San Francisco’s tech industry relates to the city. sf.citi leverages the power of the tech community to find innovative solutions to historic civic problems. In its first year, sf.citi launched two new technology apps, one aimed at improving municipal transportation and the other focused on local safety on our streets.
We also connected the tech community with local non-profits and initiatives, including Black Girls Code, a non-profit dedicated to teaching young women of color to code. sf.citi connected Black Girls Code to our member company Twitter, who was able to donate 25 underutilized laptops to the organization. Those laptops are now being used to train a new generation of empowered women coders. sf.citi is proud to partner with organizations like Black Girls Code, who work to make the tech community more inclusive.
In 2013, sf.citi will work to create jobs, improve public education and create a cohesive transportation plan for the City’s waterfront. We will continue to advocate for the tech community and strengthen its relationship with our great city. I am proud to serve as sf.citi’s vice-chair, alongside chairman and founder Ron Conway
I strongly encourage you to sign up today at sf.citi to stay informed of upcoming events and initiatives in the tech community.
sf.citi is also proud to partner with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to produce the annual Silicon Valley Women & Girls Leadership Summit, which will be held on May 1st at a San Francisco high school. The mission of the summit is to empower young girls from underserved urban schools by exposing them to private and public sector women role models and to energize these students about their education. The half-day summit is filled with speakers, interactive activities with students and professional networking with mentors. Last year, I joined City Supervisor Malia Cohen, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, AT&T Executive Loretta Walker, and Amgen Executive Dineli Wickramasinghe as speakers. I left last year's summit energized by the enthusiasm and honest questions of last year's aspiring student class and I’m looking forward to another great summit this year.
There will be approximately 500 high school girls in attendance at the summit, and our goal is to partner every high school girl with a mentor. To reach that goal, we need women like you, Women 2.0, to step up to the plate and be the mentor who inspires a girl to pursue her dream. A few hours of your time will mean a lot to our students. Sign up here to be a mentor.
Women 2.0 readers: Is mentoring the next generation of women on your to-do list in 2013? Sign up to mentor at the Silicon Valley Women & Girls Leadership Summit!
About the guest blogger: Heather Harde is the former CEO of TechCrunch. Prior to TechCrunch, Heather spent over a decade working in various mergers & acquisitions, business-development and operating capacities for major media companies, including News Corp and Viacom. Heather is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College (where she now serves on the Board of Trustees) and Harvard Business School. Heather is the Vice-Chairman of sfciti, an advocacy organization advancing technology in San Francisco.