Innovating Women | Vivek Wadhwa

Summary of: Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology
By: Vivek Wadhwa

Introduction

The technology industry has long been considered a male-dominated field, with the successes of women often being overshadowed or ignored. ‘Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology’ by Vivek Wadhwa highlights the incredible achievements women have made in the tech industry, and how they excel in various aspects such as academics, business, and entrepreneurship. The book summary explores the diversity and innovative edge women bring to the tech landscape, painting a new picture of women as critical contributors to the progress of technology, while also shining a light on the challenges and discrimination they face on a daily basis.

Women in Tech

The lack of recognition given to female innovators in the technology industry is brought to light. Despite matching men in mathematical achievement and surpassing them in academic enrollment, women are rarely acknowledged for their contributions. However, studies show that female-led high-tech start-ups have lower failure rates than those led by men. Kay Klopovitz, a female innovator, is highlighted for pioneering cable television broadcasting in the US using satellites instead of traditional cables. The article advocates for more recognition of women in the tech industry and their potential to surpass men in innovation.

Success in Female Entrepreneurship

Women are skilled in managing money, building and maintaining networks, and driving disruptive innovations in entrepreneurship. Women are more capital-efficient than men, seeing more stable or greater returns on their investments. They also place higher value on personal and professional networks, spending time cultivating good business partnerships. Women excel in disruptive innovation, particularly in building and maintaining networks outside of their organizations. Research shows that women are successful at turning novel ideas into profitable companies. Companies with double the amount of women in their highest ranks have been shown to be highly successful venture capital-backed companies, highlighting the value of women’s contributions in entrepreneurship.

Women-led businesses outperforming stereotypical male-led businesses

The success of female-led businesses is often overlooked despite consistent outperformance of male-owned businesses. The Center for Women’s Business Research reported that 41% of private businesses in the United States are owned by women and, after surveying highly profitable firms in 2013, American Express found that businesses owned by women enjoyed a 47% higher growth rate. Despite their success, businesses led by women struggle to acquire funding because of gender bias among venture capitalists who invest in those who remind them of themselves. Out of 89 venture capitalists on TheFunded.com’s top 100 list, only one is a woman.

Women Entrepreneurs: Driving Change Through Technology

Women entrepreneurs are using technology to address poverty and inequality globally. Despite social and economic marginalization, women in developing countries are setting up microenterprises to create jobs. However, a majority of these new businesses fail in their first year. Female entrepreneurs like Leticia Casanueva are providing training and tools to help rural women start self-sustaining businesses. Resha Jazrawi, co-founder of Acumen, invests in businesses that create jobs, particularly for women. Acumen’s investments allow businesses to grow slowly without the expectation of fast returns. As a result, investments like A to Z textile mills in Tanzania manufacture anti-malaria mosquito nets and have created up to 80,000 jobs, 90 percent of which are designed for women. By driving change through technology, women entrepreneurs are contributing to the growth of the rural economy and providing a source of female employment.

Gender Bias in Technology

From discouragement in education to discrimination in hiring, women face gender bias in the technology industry. STEM fields are rife with gender stereotypes from high school onwards, and hiring policies keep certain jobs for men only. Bright Labs found that around 90% of highly paid IT roles were held by men. The gender discrepancy extends to top jobs in larger companies where only eight percent had women occupying more than 25% of these positions. Women encounter disregard from investors who assume they are not interested, knowledgeable or have anything to say about technology. This gender bias needs to be addressed to create an equitable and just technological industry.

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