IT’S NO SECRET THAT THERE IS A WOEFUL LACK OF LADIES HEADING UP THE INDUSTRY GIANTS IN SILICON VALLEY. IT’S A PROBLEM THAT IS SYMPTOMATIC OF THE GENERAL REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN EXECUTIVE SUITS AND CORPORATE BOARDS ACROSS THE GLOBE. YET COMPARE SILICON VALLEY TO COMPANIES CLOSER TO HOME AND THE STATE-SIDE TECH HUB FROM OVER THE POND LOOKS POSITIVELY PROGRESSIVE IN COMPARISON. TNG TAKES A LOOK AT THE WOMEN WHO ARE STRIVING TO MAKE A CHANGE IN THIS MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY.
Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO
Sheryl Sandberg ranks 16th on Forbes List of America’s self made women and 8th in their power women list. In 2013, Sandberg published ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,’ seeking to progress gender equality both in both the work and home spheres. Leafing through the pages, it instantly becomes clear that the business motor of Sandberg is driven by high octane rocket fuel comprised of a ferocious work ethic, commitment and intelligence to boot. She tackles the findings of a study early on in the book that the success of men in the workplace is directly linked to their likeability while with women in business the inverse is true. Certainly Sandberg comes across as personable, likeable and funny and the advice she offers will resonate with females across the world looking to leap out of their comfort zone in the workplace and beyond with the following quote being an example of the kind of encouragement she offers.
“I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud. And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not. But now I know how.’
Sandberg’s last word? Confidence is the greatest weapon a lady needs to succeed.
Nathalie Massenet – Net A Porter Founder
Nathalie Massenet began her career as a writer for Tatler magazine as Isabella Blow’s assistant. In 2000 Massenet turned her hand to the tech world realising a gap in the market for ‘fashion that delivers’ right to the doorsteps of time-poor career women. Since the creation of the Net-A-Porter website, a womenswear only site, the company has grown, adding Mr Porter and The Outnet to its portfolio and most recently merging with Italian online commerce heavyweight, Yoox. Massenet stepped down in September 2015 to ‘explore new ideas and opportunities.’ Yet, Massenet shows no sign of resting on her haunches, registering new company ‘Imaginary Ventures’ only nine days after her departure. While the fashion world awaits with baited breath to garner more information about the mystery venture, she continues her role as chair of the British Fashion Council, eager to inject her digital prowess into the non-profit company. Those hoping to glean any insight as to what the mysterious ‘Imaginary Ventures’ entails will be disappointed given that Massenet is subject to a 12 month non-compete clause agreement with Net-a-Porter which won’t expire till late 2016.
Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho – Founder of Lastminute.com
Martha Lane-Fox founded Lastminute.com amidst the dawn of the dotcom boom of the early noughties. She described the growth of the internet as the ‘industrial revolution of our time and that unless women were at the forefront of it, the UK would regress.’ Speaking at Wired 2015, Lane-Fox argues that Britain needs to build an ‘army of women warriors,’ paving the way for greater equality and diversity in tech. Lane-Fox’s concerns are not solely confined to the presence of women in tech industries however and looks at the importance of facilitating tech correctly to advance our nation as a whole, launching Dot Everyone to achieve just this. The purpose of the company is to ‘transform understanding and the use of the internet in every aspect of UK life’. Her concern to enhance the understanding of the internet is rooted in her belief that at the moment the UK needs 600,000 people to work in the digital sector and by 2020 the figure is likely to be closer to 1, 000 000. She calculates, ‘right now there are 800,000 unemployed women in the country, if only a fraction of them were interested in a tech job – then it’s still worth a shot’. She concludes ‘we need these warriors for our future.’
Alice Bentinck- Co-Founder Entrepreneur First & Code First: Girls
Alice Bentinck co-founded start-up, Entrepreneur First, Europe’s pre-seed investment program which helps founders of tech companies convert their ideas into successful companies. Having founded the business, Bentinck noticed that the majority of applicants to Entrepreneur First scheme were male and thus embarked on her second venture alongside her role at EF founding Code First: Girls, the free web programming course for women attending university. Universities currently affiliated to the program include Oxford, Durham, St Andrews and Bristol University. In its first year, Code Girst: Girls graduated 500 students, promoting a seismic shift in the student’s careers aspirations. Bentinck claims that 70% of enrollees, having completed the course switched their career tracks to tech. She was consequently named one of the Fifty Most Inspiring Women in European Tech by the Inspiring Fifty organisation. Her achievements in the tech sphere also led her to being appointed as one of the Prime Ministers advisors at Northern Future Forum in Helsinki.
Baroness Shields- UK Minister for Internet Safety and Security.
Anglo-American Baroness Shields, female titan of the tech world began her career in 1985 and spent 25 years building some of the world’s leading technology corporations including Electronic for Imaging, Real Networks, Google and later VP and CEO of Bebo and Facebook EMEA respectively. During her reign at Bebo, she grew the company to 50 million users and spearheaded it’s successful acquisition to Time Warner’s AOL unit for $850 million. Indeed, she played a key part in the genesis of social media; being part of the Bebo team that developed ‘timeline,’ the first based linear representation for social network user profiles. Although born in Pennsylvania she holds dual nationality and has been heralded as Britain’s answer to Sheryl Sandberg, featuring in Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In.’ Now Baroness Shields resides in the UK after David Cameron asked her to head up the government initiative Tech City, leading the UK’s digital economy strategy and serving as David Cameron’s digital advisor until 2015. She was made a life peer in the House of Lords in 2014 and now serves as the UK Minister for Internet Safety and Security.