Friday, September 3, 2010

Gender Issues: Education, Technology, Entrepreneurship & Silicon Valley

As the father of two young women interested in technology, I found a New York Times piece published on April 17, 2010 and titled Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley pretty interesting. The piece was written by Clair Cain Miller and focuses on gender issues and gaps in technology and entrepreneurship. Here’s some highlights:
  • Research indicates that investing in women as tech entrepreneurs is good for the bottom line. Venture-backed start-ups run by women use, on average, 40 percent less capital than start-ups run by men and are increasingly involved in successful initial public offerings of stock, according to a recent white paper by Cindy Padnos, a venture capitalist who compiled data from 100 studies on gender and tech entrepreneurship.
  • Women own 40 percent of the private businesses in the United States, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. But they create only 8 percent of the venture-backed tech start-ups, according to Astia, a nonprofit group that advises female entrepreneurs.
  • Just 1 percent of girls taking the SAT in 2009 said they wanted to major in computer or information sciences, compared with 5 percent of boys, according to the College Board.
  • Women now outnumber men at elite colleges, law schools, medical schools and in the overall work force. Yet a stark imbalance of the sexes persists in the high-tech world, where change typically happens at breakneck speed.
  • Only 18 percent of college students graduating with computer science degrees in 2008 were women, down from 37 percent in 1985, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
  • In a study of 493 undergraduate engineering majors’ intentions to continue with their major, men tended to stick with their studies as long as they completed the coursework, while women did so only if they earned high grades.
  • According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, 56 percent of women with technical jobs leave their work midway through their careers, double the turnover rate for men. Twenty percent of them leave the work force entirely, and an additional 31 percent take nontechnical jobs — suggesting that child-rearing isn’t necessarily the primary reason women move on.
There's lots more. The piece, along with the links/references are excellent and a recommended read.

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