Some weeks ago, StartUp Greece was presented during OpenCoffee Athens. Its project manager is female. One of the few that ever presented on the stage of the most famous technology StartUp events in the country. It made me think once again, why women do not stand up, are not present etc. In fact I am not the only one with these question, and it’s not only women having it, and it is not restricted to Greece nor to technology, but a discussion happening in general in the entrepreneurial scene.
…women in tech are always of high excellence. They have been through a different set of barriers to get to where they are today. Most who enter the tech scene are also faced with the dynamic of being in a largely male dominated environment.
Maybe it is a stereotype, but the higher you go a company’s hierarchy or even in a business field, the number of women is getting lower and lower. Some might say that it is a matter of priorities. Women often tend to step back in their career in order to make a family. The famous ticking biological clock and the fact that success is still described by male standards, as well as leadership seems to be. Female leadership is called «soft power», but in fact it is just different.
The truth is that patterns change by education, by creating awareness and the family environment has a significant influence on our perceptions. I grew up in a bicultural environment. Of course, my parents were not happy when I left my job in the advertising industry and started working freelance with the aim to build up my own company. What un-ladylike behavior to aim a step higher than the traditional society is used to.
On a personal level, I remember discussions with male friends on higher executive or even C-level positions that somewhere in the middle had the phrases «But you are a woman», «You have to be sweeter, you are a girl» that made me always really mad, because these expressions determine skills on a gender-basis. All of these highly established and highly educated men making this statement is a punch in the face of western society.
Fact is that if we talk about setting up entrepreneurial ecosystems, we have to recognize the need for social changes like e.g. education systems, talking especially about the European ones, which I am familiar with.
Talking about education and awareness and the low presence of women in the business world: I was chatting with a friend about the Greek market.It was one of these warm days in Athens when people tend to go to the beach. We put our brains together, because we felt we could make a change for the small market we are working in, even if it starts small scale.
The result of it is a discussion about «The female way of entrepreneurial risk taking» that is taking place next week, 6th July 2011 and will be live streamed. Unfortunately it will be in Greek but still it is a very good start to change some patterns that we are used to.
What I am very proud of is that the team of StartUp Greece, Loft2Work and myself managed to get female entrepreneurs on board that represent the variety of business fields (communication, technology, non-profit, social business, retail, oil industry, consulting, coaching, commerce, beverages, office services). This discussion is a start.
An interesting TED talk of Sheryl Sandberg , COO of Facebook, on why we have too few female leaders.