Posted byat 27th April, 2009
Once considered a second rate technology hub to San Fransisco’s “Silicon Valley,” New York City has finally earned some respect. “Silicon Alley,” if you will, is attracting start-ups, developers and investors that plan to give Silicon Valley a run for its money. As if to prove the point, online publication Silicon Alley Insider has widely publicized its sophomore list of the top 100 entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and technologists in New York City.
While clicking through the Silicon Alley 100 nominees for 2008 in early September, I found that only 10% were women. While we are certainly the minority in the tech world, I would say that the number of female movers and shakers in Silicon Alley is higher than 10%. I started thinking about all the women I have met who founded start-ups, control massive P/Ls, invest in firms, acquire firms, control spend on Mad Ave, write awesome code, lead debate, blog, or self-organize for the greater good. Why weren’t these women on the list? Why didn’t anyone nominate them?
This is how I came to email 160 of the smartest women I knew. As nominations were open, I simply sent the link and asked them to nominate a woman, paying extra attention to highlight her credentials.
By the time nominations closed, 17% of 365 nominees were women. Being the Silicon Alley 100, and not the Silicon Alley 365, I feared that our percentage gain amongst all nominees would be disproportionately trimmed in the final list. Yet our modest gain – we accounted for 12% of the SAI 100 in 2008 – was sweetened with the knowledge that at least two of the winners came as a direct result of my nomination campaign.
Every industry, from education to finance, has its lists that, more frequently than not, are skewed. Rather than discuss the “why” theories, I have one call to action for you: nominate the smartest women you know to your industry’s lists, conferences and advisory boards. Unless we put ourselves forward for consideration, we will never appear to be more than 10%.