I recently returned from Knowledge15, ServiceNow’s annual tradeshow consisting of thousands of IT professionals coming together to learn how to leverage cloud services and transform enterprise service management. With over 9,000 IT professionals and ServiceNow employees, one might assume there would have been a somewhat equal ratio of men to women attendees. This wasn’t this case, however, and I felt like one of the very few women present at this massive tech conference.

To make matters worse, I hosted an SF DevOps meetup the very next day at work after returning from Knowledge15. While there was a relatively large turnout of professionals interested in DevOps, not a single woman showed up to the event.

After considering the small percentage of women present at Knowledge15, and the all male audience at the SF DevOps meetup, it became very clear that there simply are not enough women involved in the tech sector. As a woman who has been working at tech startups for the past 3 years, I started wondering why there are so few women involved in such a thriving and exciting field. With this question in mind, I came up with a list of five ways to help increase the number of women workers in tech startups:

  • Be Proactive – Seek Women Out: A number of programs and non-profit organizations have been created to help encourage women to become more involved in tech. Girls Who Code, for example, is a national nonprofit organization that works to educate and motivate young women to pursue career opportunities in technology. This organization offers 60 summer programs, aimed at empowering thousands of women with intensive STEM training. Girls Who Code even offers tech startups opportunities to extend internships to Girls Who Code alumni. Additionally, there are a number of “Women in Tech” meetups that have been created (especially in the San Francisco Bay area), aimed at encouraging and helping women find jobs in the tech space. By regularly attending meetups and non-profit events such as these, tech startup professionals can network and seek out young women interested in technology to join their company.
  • Practice What You Preach – Hire Women: Diversity within a company only encourages individuals of all backgrounds to get involved. A tech startup that is open towards women tends to attract more female employees. For example, before I started working at Moogsoft, both a male and a female interviewed me. Knowing that Moogsoft had a marketing team headed by a man and a woman was really encouraging, and excited me because it showed that there was room for growth as a female. Once I started working at Moogsoft, I learned a lot about opportunities for women who want to grow as technical writers. Knowing that I was going into a company open to hiring women made me feel welcomed and more determined than ever to develop my career in technology.
  • Take The Next Step – Offer Internships: Tech startups looking to hire more women should take initiative by offering internship programs geared towards advancing young women in technology. By partnering with nearby universities, tech startups can reach out to women in STEM fields by offering them the opportunity to help advance their company. I previously worked for a startup in the big data space, for example, that hired college students to help with coding projects. These students were able to customize their work schedule to ensure that they still had time to devote to their studies, and were able to gain real-world coding experience. Offering internships to women in particular is just another way to encourage women to join tech startups after completing their studies.
  • Act as a Mentor: One of the best parts about working at a growing tech startup is the relationship building process. Startups are often smaller companies, and therefore allow for employees to grow and learn from one another. As the Content Marketing Manager at Moogsoft, I am able to work directly with the company’s CMO. Working with the CMO and other executives has allowed me to understand what is involved in the decision making process at a tech startup, and these individuals continue to serve as mentors for building my career in the technology sector.
  • We Call The Shots – Let Women Take on Multiple Roles: If you’ve ever worked for a startup, you know that one role involves wearing many hats. As a woman, taking on multiple responsibilities at once is exciting, and has allowed me to learn about various segments of a startup. Having a large amount of responsibility within a company can be very fulfilling, especially for young women who are hoping to build their career in the tech field.

Encouragement goes a long way, especially when it comes to getting more women involved in tech startups. Being proactive and seeking out women to hire demonstrates that a startup is open to having females on board. Hiring women, offering student internships, serving as a mentor and allowing women employees to wear multiple hats will ultimately help encourage more females to jump on board the tech-startup bandwagon. Yet while these actions may seem easy enough, there are still a number of tech startups that still need to take the initiative to bring more women to their company.

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