Founded in 2007 by Adriana Gascoigne, Girls in Tech (GIT) is a global non-profit that focuses on the engagement, education, and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology. The principal aim of the organisation is to assist in accelerating the growth of innovative women who are entering the tech industry and building successful startups.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the organisation has multiple chapters around the globe, including France, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Brazil. GIT was born out of the need to provide a platform for women to discuss and share ideas, learn new skills, and enter into careers in STEM-related fields.
The group now has 52 chapters and over 27,000 members, with a 53rd chapter soon to be launched in Melbourne at the 2016 Pause Festival.
Gascoigne decided to start Girls in Tech to get women excited about the tech industry and expose them to different opportunities.
“In 2000, nearly 28% of women attending university were majoring in computer science or information sciences” says Gascoigne. “Sadly that dropped to only 17.6% a decade later. With as much time spent talking about STEM education, which is great from a general education curriculum stand point, we shouldn’t be relying solely on the classroom to inspire females to pursue tech in their careers. We need a 360-degree approach to bring these statistics back up, not only to where they were 10 years ago, but to the level of our male counterparts”.
“Once women get into the field, we need to find ways to keep them there. It’s great to see some of the top tech employers in the San Francisco-Bay Area beginning to hold themselves accountable and publicly discussing their gender diversity issues. Still, 70% of the workforce at these companies is male. But it isn’t just about technology. We need to support and encourage women entrepreneurs across all industries. For one reason or another, women aren’t choosing or feeling like they can’t take on leadership or entrepreneurial roles. A recent study from Babson College showed that only 15% of VC-backed companies have women on their executive teams. Even more shocking is that only 2.7% of VC-funded companies have a women CEO” she said.
The number of female tech startup founders in Australia is growing slowly but steadily, increasing from 16 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2013; however, only a fifth of these founders coming from a tech background.
A survey of women tech founders conducted by Terem Technologies found that though many may lack technical expertise, 41 percent have a strong business background, holding a degree in business, commerce, or economics.
The survey also found that female entrepreneurs often have more cautious attitudes to risk compared to their male counterparts. Despite this cautiousness – or perhaps because of it – women-led private tech companies achieve a return on investment 35 percent higher than male-led companies and bring in 12 percent higher revenue when venture backed, according to another study of 500 women in the global tech space by First Round Capital.
It’s because of statistics like this that the launch of organisations like Girls in Tech within the Australian ecosystem will benefit not just women involved in tech, but their male colleagues, tech consumers, and investors alike.
When it launches, the Melbourne chapter of GIT will be anchored by a strong chapter team, including a managing director and between five and eight advisory board members. The organisation will also be deploying its trademarked programs, which include:
- its Lady Pitch Night competition (the first time it will happen in Australia)
- the Catalyst Conference
- the XChange program (where female entrepreneurs tour Silicon Valley)
- GIT Work (providing job-entry skills for the tech industry)
- Global Classroom (an eLearning platform for coding and design tutorials and eMentoring
At Pause Festival, Gascoigne will be speaking on personal brand presentation, focusing on whether or not people should choose to cultivate and leverage their digital brands that exist through mediums like social media.
“Social media has resulted in almost every individual having a personal brand, even if we don’t intend to have one, but they exist nonetheless,” Gascoigne stated in a recent interview for Your Magazine. “Our digital footprints span our professional and personal lives and can be accessed through multiple platforms, devices and mediums.”
Gascoigne has said that the question is no longer if you have a personal brand, but if you choose to cultivate and leverage it. During her presentation, she plans to discuss and ponder the word and emotional association when people hear your name and how you can help steer that association, as well as how to create or change the perception of your personal brand. It should be a good conversation.
And on the topic of embracing women in technology? Gascoigne says that the Australian tech sector should be open to change and evolution.
“To remain innovative and competitive, you can’t remain static” she says. “Just like you need to be open to creating the right mix of employees for the ultimate team, you need to be open to the right mix of new ideas with more tried-and-true approaches to keep things moving and fresh”.
Pause Fest 2016 will take place at Federation Square on the 8th – 14th of February 2016. Tickets can be purchased here.
Featured image: GIT founder, Adriana Gascoigne | Source: VentureBeat