Women in Tech:
SheSays Boulder and Where I Fit in
By | Monday May 14, 2012
As Madeline Albright once said, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
This is especially true in the startup tech community, because there are so few women working in digital, and without strong networks, this space can seem intimidating and inaccessible. We’ve all heard the standard menu of clichés about why this is. There’s always someone to blame for the problem. Regardless of why’s, who’s, and how’s, though, it helps to have solid female support in a space where only a handful of women dare to go. That’s why TravelShark decided to sponsor the most recent SheSays event in Boulder.
SheSays is a global network of over 3,000 women that spreads across 15 cities worldwide, including London, Vancouver, Sydney, New York, and Boulder. The Boulder chapter alone has 200 members and is one of the most active SheSays groups in the world. They host events every few months to connect women in creative industries and have a little fun while doing it.
Unlike traditional networking events, SheSays is pretty relaxed. The evening starts with an hour of casual conversation and networking (and copious amounts of wine and cheese). Then, after about an hour, we settle in for a presentation. At our last event in March, Carmel Hagen of COMMON spoke about her history in the startup world and how quickly social media has tranformed. The talk led into a group discussion about social media that led to the question: where do women fit in?
Before the event, I wasn’t sure if I needed to be at a women-only networking event. At TravelShark, we already have a strong support system of women: both our Manager of Marketing and Products and our Director of Business Development (Sam Lee and Erika McKitterick, respectively) are women; our office in Boulder is 50% female; and, we have a female CEO (Sue Heilbronner) (and there aren't all too many female tech execs out there). In our office, we don’t talk much about the discrepancy in the number of men vs. women in the digital space because we often don’t really notice it. It wasn’t until after the SheSays event that I started thinking about how much my TravelShark colleagues support me and how important they have been for my growth.
Perhaps the best part about SheSays is not the event itself, but the opportunity for dialogue it creates after the fact. As skeptical as my female co-workers and I were about going to the event, we have spent a lot of time afterwards talking about our own places and opinions in the ever-evolving digital world. Is the issue of gender the same for our generation as it was for the previous one? Will it continue to be a topic of discussion, or will it become something of an after-thought, the way we feel it already is at TravelShark?
Regardless of the reasons why fewer women work in the digital space, it’s crucial to maintain a strong network for support and growth. And, while it helps to have a strong network of our fellow women, ultimately, we need the support of men in the tech industry as well.
Kay Bradford is an Account Manager who came to TravelShark as a travel blogger. She likes biking in the Lüneburger Heide, horseback riding in the Ojai Valley, and skiing Heavenly Lake Tahoe's Gunbarrel. If you give Kay a steamy popover, she's going to ask for some fresh raspberry butter.
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