I am so excited to see my city—yes I am talking about Chicago—get behind supporting women in technology. If you are reading today’s daily than you are absorbing the latest news about 1871, http://www.1871.com/, launching FEMtech, a Chicago-based incubator that will cater to women-owned technology startups. What I love about this idea is how 1871, which itself was only founded just a couple of years ago, continues to find new and creative ways to help digital startups jumpstart their businesses. I have personally witnessed its magic as two of its own—GimmeAnother and Parknav—snagged the top spots in the Connected World magazine Incubator Challenge during our Connected World Conference held during the Chicago Auto Show last month.
Now, with FEMtech, the goal will be to facilitate opportunities for female entrepreneurs by providing access to mentors, educational resources, potential investors, and, most importantly, a supportive community. This last part is truly the key to the success of this endeavor. Having just completed the Connected World’s Women of M2M list I discovered the real lack of true support that women are getting, and even giving, others in the tech industry. Make sure to read the April/May issue of Connected World magazine to see which women made the list this year.
FEMtech can do wonders to help these enterprising women move forward by providing them the tools and guidance they so desperately desire. When starting out successful female entrepreneurs see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. They seamlessly manage crisis and change, and are turnaround experts. Optimism is their mindset because they see opportunity in everything. Yet, in order to clear a path for greater advancement, females need to tackle the most pressing inconsistencies for which many receive and send mixed messages that are uncomfortable realities that complicate an arguably positive picture of progress for women in business.
We hear time and time again, women are pushing the boundaries when faced with adverse circumstances and talk about confronting challenges. But what I discovered after months of interviews, most women will not openly admit it, unless pressed, that corporate America can do more to advance women.
In fact, most women don’t want to talk about a lack of support within their own companies. Rather they want to talk about what they want to achieve and how they can build a more robust community for upwardly mobile women. Sadly, that’s where it kind of falls apart for many of the women when they get into corporate America. As someone who has worked in the tech industry for as many years as I have—you might even consider me a classic—I have seen firsthand the number of women moving up the ranks is still minimal when you compare the growth of the tech industry as a whole. I have to admit I’m not the only editor that has reported on this phenomenon. Business magazines such as Forbes and Fortune have also written extensively on this subject noting that women should be transcending the ranks. But in the U.S., women actually make up half of the U.S. workforce, but only 25% represent the technology industry.
FEMtech has great possibilities to help look at the big picture and provide mentors with different mindsets, capabilities, and even imaginations. These aspiring entrepreneurs will make strong business decisions. Women by nature are born leaders and with the right mentorship they will not retreat. From all the research I have been doing, there is no better time to reinvest in other females. Personally I’d like to see more female-owned tech startups and more women and men showing their support and not just saying it with words. As FEMtech will show, actions do speak louder than words. And for those who really mean it, here’s a whole new world of untapped potential.
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