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Bringing More Women Into Tech: Breaking Down The Barriers To Entry

Marina Del Rey, May 5-7, 2014 - The premier Conference on Entertainment and Technology that travels across the country and stopped in Marina del Rey, California, last week, May 5th-8th, Digital Hollywood, hosted a panel on women in technology called “Bringing More Women into Tech: Breaking Down the Barriers to Entry.” The panel counted with panelists who have been in technology for 10-20 years, including Latina Josie Roman, Founder of Sealight Enterprises. In addition to extensive experience in Entertainment, Technology and Finance, Josie Roman is an activist in issues of social justice, equality, violent against women and sustainability. Many ideas around the topic were discussed, as well as the current state of affairs in genre equality and women in tech in the United States and Los Angeles.

“Statistically speaking, only 40% of companies led by women get funded, however companies with women executives have 75% more chances to have a successful exit. There are only 13 women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, and women only hold 16.9% of board seats in the Fortune 500, despite the proven success of companies with women on their boards.” Josie Roman commented. “According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, even though women-owned enterprises operate with far less capital, in the venture-backed tech industry, they produce 12% higher returns. Women-led tech companies achieve 35% more return on investment, and companies with more equalized gender distribution have 30% higher IPO valuations. That means that not only supporting women in business and tech is the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do!” Josie Roman said.

“We believe we are in a ‘safe heaven’ here in progressive California. However surveys in Assembly District 26, which is the one that covers most of the Silicon Beach area in Los Angeles, show a larger gender pay gap than the national average.” Josie said, “This is simply unacceptable. We women need to learn to ask for a higher pay from the moment we’re giving a job offer, and gain confidence enough in our skills and performance to continue asking for a pay raise yearly, like many men do. But we shouldn’t have to! A woman with the same qualifications and experience than a man should be offered the same salary. Period.” Ms Roman continued, “We have been discussing this subject for decades and rather than seeing any progress, women’s representation in the computing and information technology workforce has been falling from a peak of 38% in the mid-1980s, according to National Science Foundation’s SESTAT Report.

A 2013 National Public Radio report stated that we are at about 20%. Why? because everything we do is just small patching, targeting localized symptoms, not the national disease. I believe we will never make significant long term impact until we coordinate efforts across all aspects of our culture, media, and education, including private, public and non-profit sectors, and strong policies are established to reflect those changes, like other countries have done. Though every little helps, only multilevel crossed organization efforts will mean more than a mere one step forward and two steps backward.”

When asking an economists about how to develop a region, one of the first answers is to figure out where women are and empower them further. The positive effects are seen across the board in society and the economic development skyrockets. There is no doubt that women’s issues are society’s issues. However genre inequality can be seen across industries, specially in entertainment, technology and leadership. The United States has today less women elected officials than it did in the 70’s, ranking 78 worldwide (17.8% in the lower house, 20.0% in the upper house), far below countries like Rwanda, Cuba, Senegal, South Africa, Nicaragua and Iceland. What we see in societies at the bottom of the list is that they are cultures with gender inequality within families, inequitable division of labor within households, and cultural attitudes about gender roles further subjugating women and serving to limit their educational and employment opportunities. Societies that are highly patriarchal often have local power structures that make it difficult for women to combat. Thus, their interests are often not represented.

Additionally the law in the United States seems to be made for men by men. Just as a example, there is no federal mandatory maternity leave in the USA, while even Pakistan and Turkey have 12 and 16 weeks respectively. Just last year along over 300 local laws were passed restricting abortion at a cost of hundreds of millions in tax payers money. This, as mentioned above, is not what characterizes modern democracies around the world, where national laws representing the majority of the population are passed, and lower jurisdictions don’t have the ability to restrict those laws based on the agendas of well-funded small groups that what to impose their believes and ways of life onto the majority.

Further aspects of the discussion were: how to bring men into the conversation, and the unfortunate bad influence of women representation in media in the United States, which is similar today to the way it was in the 50’s: high stereotypes, 1-5 women roles, jobs as princesses, or heiresses, or waitresses, or hot teen girlfriend of wealthy old man, or big-mouthed reality TV personalities, few smart women as role models in American mainstream media. For more information about the panel please visit: http://prime.digitalhollywood.com/14DHSpring/DH14Sp-Wed27.html

About Josie Roman. Sealight Enterprises Founder & Principal Josie Roman is an Engineer, Serial Entrepreneur, Futurist, Marketing & Busniness Strategist, Speaker, Investor and Writer/Journalist, with a career expanding over 20 years across Entertainment, Technology, and Finance, including being operational and business advisor for numerous technology companies. She brings extensive knowledge in project management, business mapping process, customer service, & new product development. Ms Roman provides tactical and strategic knowledge in how organizations can leverage technology & marketing to deliver an enhanced customer experience, building engagement while achieving business goals.