Women Who Tech part 2: lessons for other industries & how to lend your support

I pick up with Justyn Hintze, director of Women Who Tech to talk about how firms should build an inclusive culture, the benefits of hiring women into tech and how to support Women Who Tech.

Go to the profile of Jen Thoroughgood
Aug 08, 2018
4
0
Upvote 4 Comment

As the only woman working in a tech company, I was keen to understand more about why so few of my peers are women. I spoke to Justyn Hintze, director of nonprofit Women Who Tech about the scale of the problem and how her organisation offers solutions.

The solutions include the fantastic Women Startup Challenge - (for which Charles, our CEO is a mentor and judge) - and podcast competition.

If you are a developer - but especially a female developer - please check out our job vacancy here.

Watch part one of our chat here.

  • 00:00
  • - Hi, so I'm here again speaking to Justyn Hyntze 00:02
  • from Women Who Tech. 00:06
  • Last time we were talking about the problems facing 00:07
  • women working in the tech space 00:12
  • and understanding what Women Who Tech are doing about that, 00:14
  • like your start-up challenge, 00:18
  • and really interesting research. 00:19
  • And this time we're going to talk a little bit 00:21
  • about some of the issues that we think will be interesting 00:23
  • to Zapnito's customers who work in the media space. 00:27
  • My experience of working in media is it has been traditionally 00:32
  • more balanced, I certainly have been lucky enough 00:36
  • to work with a lot of women at higher levels. 00:40
  • But, I did find as I've moved up through different 00:42
  • publishing firms that women tend to drop away a little bit. 00:45
  • And suddenly, it's much more male dominated. 00:48
  • And, as media firms become more similar to tech firms, 00:51
  • start acquiring tech firms, start hiring developers, 00:56
  • I think people will be really interested 01:00
  • to ensure that they don't start facing the problem that 01:01
  • a lot of tech firms, including our own has of how 01:05
  • much of the culture is male dominated 01:08
  • and how to build a culture that means they're going to attract 01:10
  • and keep female developers and people who work in tech. 01:13
  • So, yeah, Justyn from your experience, 01:16
  • what would you kind of be advising employers to do 01:19
  • to make sure that they're creating a culture that's going to 01:22
  • attract women to come and work for them? 01:25
  • - A very important, awesome question, 01:29
  • because we, it seems like an easy enough situation. 01:30
  • And yet it's not. 01:35
  • Based on your experience and many other women's experiences, 01:37
  • they get to a certain place, look around, 01:41
  • and there are not many other women. 01:43
  • You know, I think really it's a lot more difficult 01:47
  • for companies who are further along to be prepared 01:50
  • to start implementing things once they've already 01:52
  • reached a certain point, because they already sort of just 01:54
  • cultivated this culture of, it's a programmer culture 01:58
  • most often which excludes women and doesn't give a space 02:02
  • for inclusion and for supporting 02:07
  • diverse perspectives and experiences. 02:10
  • So, I think really being aware of the problem 02:14
  • and wanting to do something is the first step. 02:18
  • So, if it's a larger picture and company, honestly, 02:21
  • it's really need to come from from the top down. 02:24
  • And it shouldn't have to be the person who just started 02:27
  • who's going to say, you know what, 02:30
  • we have a culture problem, let's fix it 02:31
  • and it's going to change. 02:33
  • It is going to have to be the C-Suite people. 02:34
  • The senior executives who are sitting there 02:36
  • having meetings who do this. 02:39
  • It means that really companies need to be talking 02:52
  • to their employees, training them on how not 02:57
  • to harass people, which it seems like we wouldn't need 03:00
  • trainings on that, but we do! 03:02
  • With the entire MeToo Movement, we need clearly 03:04
  • to have trainings on that. 03:07
  • I mean, from the survey alone that we did, 03:09
  • 53% of women surveyed, half of women said they'd experienced 03:12
  • harassment while working in the tech sector. 03:17
  • And 60% said it happened more than once. 03:19
  • So, if we're having this happen again and again, 03:22
  • why would women want to stay in the tech sector? 03:25
  • This is only happening to 16% of men versus 03:28
  • over half of women working in the tech sector. 03:32
  • And, so when we look at those numbers, 03:35
  • it's not a surprise that women aren't staying in tech. 03:37
  • So to support them we need to make sure that not only 03:40
  • is there a supportive culture, but one that has a zero 03:43
  • tolerance policy for any kind of harassment. 03:47
  • It's not a, oh, slap on the wrist, 03:51
  • "you shouldn't have done that" or "boys will be boys", 03:52
  • because that's just not how that works. 03:55
  • It's not acceptable, and it's not going 03:59
  • to create a fair culture or a sustainable company. 04:02
  • - What would your advice be to companies that are perhaps 04:06
  • buying in tech start-ups? 04:10
  • It's increasingly common, big corporate, 04:13
  • might be buying in a small, very male, 04:15
  • very kind of traditional, male programmer cultures. 04:18
  • How would you look to somehow avoid some of those issues 04:22
  • as you're integrating with a wider company? 04:26
  • - Yeah, I think, it's really, asking the hard questions. 04:30
  • So people are asking questions, like "why don't you have a 04:34
  • woman on your team?". 04:36
  • "Have you tried looking for somebody?" 04:38
  • "How are you looking for somebody?" 04:40
  • "What's the language you're using in your job description?" 04:43
  • Also, there is an expectation in that same 'brogrammer' culture 04:46
  • where men can screw up, and they can mess up, 04:50
  • and they can fail, and that's okay. 04:54
  • And there's this cultural expectation of perfection 04:56
  • from women as well as concern over if you will start a family. 04:58
  • So I think being aware of not only the language 05:01
  • but the benefits that are offered. 05:03
  • So if your only benefits are beer 05:04
  • and ping pong tables you don't support everybody. 05:06
  • And do we have this idea of who gets to be there? 05:11
  • Who gets to be present? 05:15
  • There's so many times that we've heard women 05:16
  • say that they have been questioned about their ability 05:20
  • to lead, because of their gender, 05:23
  • because of the potential they'll have to start a family, 05:25
  • as if it takes just one person! 05:28
  • (both women laugh) 05:30
  • So really just being conscious of the benefits offered, 05:33
  • the language used, and then putting policies into place 05:36
  • in advance and being proactive rather than reactive. 05:40
  • I mean, when we were talking to those women, 05:44
  • looking at the numbers of women who have experienced 05:48
  • harassment, they're not reporting it either. 05:51
  • So, if they're not reporting it, they're either doing it, 05:54
  • because of a fear of being fired, 05:56
  • because there isn't a supportive culture. 05:58
  • Or, so, there were 16% of women who actually reported it 05:59
  • to someone, 23% to senior leadership. 06:03
  • So, those are incredibly low, low numbers. 06:06
  • But, almost half reported it, 06:09
  • so the companies believe, less than half of the time, 06:13
  • their company believes them. 06:15
  • - Wow. 06:17
  • - That's means more than half didn't believe 06:18
  • the harassment was happening. 06:20
  • And then 35% of women who reported 06:22
  • the harassment faced repercussions. 06:25
  • And only 9% said their harassers faced repercussions. 06:28
  • - It's just mind bending. 06:33
  • - When we're cultivating a culture where victims are more 06:35
  • likely to be punished for their own harassment than their 06:38
  • perpetrators, there is an enormous problem. 06:41
  • And so like I said from bigger corporations, it needs 06:44
  • to be coming from the top down. 06:46
  • But for new companies and people who are just starting 06:48
  • start-ups or other companies, that really needs to be built in 06:50
  • from the root up. 06:53
  • It needs to be built in before there is even an announcement 06:54
  • there is the founding company. 06:57
  • You need to be thinking about hiring diverse perspectives. 06:59
  • You need to be thinking about bringing people in 07:03
  • and not just for the token woman 07:04
  • or the token person of colour, 07:08
  • but because it's actually not only just the right thing 07:10
  • to do because we're people who have good ideas, 07:13
  • but because it's better for ROI. 07:17
  • I mean, when we look at the numbers, founding teams that 07:19
  • include a woman outperform their all male teams by 63%. 07:24
  • That's the numbers from First Round Capital. 07:29
  • And creating these cultures where people of different 07:31
  • backgrounds and experiences feel supported and not tokenized 07:33
  • and included is going to lead to better products. 07:37
  • If we wanna create products for the masses, 07:40
  • we need to have various perspectives at the table 07:42
  • to make sure that the products actually are for the masses 07:45
  • and aren't just for cis white men. 07:48
  • - Yeah, I think it's so true. 07:50
  • And, we spoke a little bit about this when we spoke last 07:52
  • time, but we are currently trying to recruit a female developer. 07:55
  • And we got you to look at our jobs spec - 07:59
  • a job spec that I had seen and thought "yeah it looks fine" - 08:01
  • then just going through that and some of the language, 08:04
  • some of the benefits, 08:07
  • it was really clear how if you're already working 08:10
  • in an industry where you feel marginalised, 08:14
  • and you look at the jobs on offer, 08:16
  • and they're not speaking to you, 08:17
  • why you wouldn't feel compelled to apply. 08:19
  • And, it's very easy to get blind to that, 08:21
  • if you don't even realise that there's a problem 08:25
  • in the first place. 08:26
  • So, yeah, it's amazingly difference that these things portray. 08:28
  • So, hopefully this will all have a positive impact, 08:32
  • will redress our balance a little bit at Zapnito. 08:35
  • And, I think for all the companies looking to, 08:38
  • to move into tech a bit more, we should make them aware 08:41
  • that this is something they need to keep their eyes open 08:44
  • to and not wait for it 08:46
  • to become a problem, or wait. 08:47
  • - Well, I love that you are openly talking 08:49
  • about the problem and how you are trying to get this right. 08:50
  • And if you have just one woman it is like, "one woman, we have our one woman!". 08:54
  • (Jen laughs) 08:58
  • Or, "we're looking for more women, 08:59
  • but we're gonna be really quiet about it", 09:00
  • because we don't want it to be glaringly obvious 09:02
  • that there is only one woman. 09:04
  • And, talking about it is so important, 09:06
  • because not talking about it doesn't make it go away 09:08
  • or fix it or make things better. 09:10
  • It just, it creates a large visibility that you're 09:12
  • aware that that's not the way that is should be, 09:16
  • especially for a functioning team. 09:18
  • And, I mean, when we're looking at the fact that it's 09:20
  • better for business, when we're looking at the fact that 09:24
  • it's the right thing to do, and we're just brushing it 09:25
  • under the rug, we're not going 09:30
  • to actually create a culture change. 09:31
  • - Yeah and as much as I would really appreciate having 09:34
  • some more female energy in the office, 09:39
  • it's also, like you say, it's a business decision. 09:40
  • We're aware that we need some different viewpoints 09:43
  • on our products, on our process and things if we're going to 09:46
  • continue to innovate and continue to be successful. 09:49
  • We can form an echo chamber where everyone thinks 09:52
  • in the same way. 09:57
  • It's not going to make us successful 09:58
  • and especially for a product that is all 10:00
  • about bringing people together and to network 10:02
  • and share expertise, if that's not reflected in our company 10:06
  • if have a narrow mindset, then we're not going to get there. 10:09
  • I'm, it's really important. 10:12
  • - Yeah, and when I say gender too, when we talk 10:12
  • about gender diversity or racial diversity, 10:15
  • those aren't the only areas that we should really be looking 10:18
  • into for bringing people on for those various experiences. 10:20
  • We should be looking at different genders and races 10:24
  • and ethnicities but also diversity in age and abilities 10:26
  • and backgrounds. 10:30
  • And being able to have all of these experiences are going 10:33
  • to create a really cool product. 10:36
  • Otherwise, we're just fragmented. 10:38
  • And we're guessing, and we're thinking we know what somebody 10:39
  • needs, but we can't just guess. 10:43
  • And then it's not going to sell as well 10:45
  • to those communities and those populations. 10:46
  • And, it's not going to make sure that those communities 10:49
  • and populations feel supported, if we don't have various 10:52
  • perspectives on the table. 10:56
  • - Yeah, absolutely, I mean, we've certainly found benefits 10:58
  • from, perhaps, some of us being a slightly older team 11:01
  • than is typical of a tech start-up. 11:04
  • And, I think that's resonated with some investors. 11:06
  • I think it resonated with our clients. 11:09
  • And yeah so, being atypical and diverse, we've only seen 11:11
  • benefit in it so far. 11:17
  • And that's what we're trying to achieve in our hiring. 11:19
  • But, yeah, obviously we came to Women Who Tech partly 11:21
  • through our association with our CEO being involved 11:24
  • in the start-up challenge, but also get some help on this. 11:28
  • We know that it's difficult. 11:31
  • And let's talk about more about the benefits. 11:34
  • So, how about investors. What should their 11:36
  • expectations be if they're starting to focus a bit more 11:40
  • on start-ups who are led by women? 11:44
  • - Expectations in what capacity? 11:48
  • - Well, I mean, 11:50
  • is it making a difference in the return? 11:52
  • Does it make a difference in the type of returns? 11:54
  • - Yeah, so venture backed women led tech firms bring 11:59
  • in 12% ROI more than in tech firms led solely by men. 12:02
  • And, investors are seeing that return. 12:08
  • When people say, like I said previously, 12:12
  • that it's a pipeline problem. 12:15
  • It isn't. 12:17
  • Black women business ownership is the 12:18
  • fastest growing among all women. 12:20
  • And, looking at these and looking at the growth is enormous. 12:22
  • And to be able to see just how much innovation there is out there. 12:28
  • But still we're looking at a very, 12:36
  • very low percentage of funding going in. 12:38
  • Women led companies are more capital efficient, 12:42
  • because they're getting less money in the first place, 12:45
  • they're achieving a lot more with much leaner resources. 12:47
  • So, I believe it's that women entrepreneurs bring 12:51
  • in 20% more revenue with 50% less money invested 12:57
  • than companies led by men, 13:01
  • because, I mean, when such a small percentage is going 13:02
  • to them, you have to really be creative. 13:05
  • And you have to make up for that gap somewhere 13:07
  • in resources and being really smart 13:10
  • about being capital efficient. 13:13
  • - Yeah, I know, I think this, we feel this about being a start-up 13:15
  • that is not sort of traditionally VC funded. 13:19
  • The fact that we're bootstrapped and angel funded, 13:22
  • it does make you resourceful. 13:25
  • And, yeah, perhaps a bit more considered 13:27
  • in how you're spending your money and also more considered 13:30
  • in things like your hiring as well. 13:33
  • So last time we spoke, we talked a lot about what Women 13:36
  • Who Tech are doing to support female entrepreneurs 13:38
  • and bring some of these great female 13:43
  • led start-ups to the fore. 13:46
  • What should people be doing if they want 13:48
  • to get involved with this? 13:51
  • I know you look for partners 13:52
  • for the Women Startup Challenge. 13:55
  • It's an opportunity for sponsors. 13:57
  • You're always looking for advisors. 13:59
  • Yeah, how can we help? 14:01
  • - Yeah, great question that you have here. 14:02
  • So, there is lots that you can do. 14:05
  • Partnerships are huge, so we love partnering 14:13
  • with organisations and companies 14:16
  • and people to really help 14:18
  • women led start-ups, to create an awareness 14:22
  • of that funding gap. 14:24
  • So, that's funding Women Who Tech 14:25
  • through being a sponsor 14:30
  • for the Startup Challenge and being a mentor 14:32
  • and and also donating money that will 14:34
  • go toward the event. 14:38
  • And then in turn help support and giving more 14:39
  • money to women led start-ups. 14:43
  • Mentoring is enormous. 14:45
  • So, there so often isn't enough mentors 14:47
  • just in the world. 14:53
  • Women have trouble finding someone who wants to mentor them. 14:54
  • And sadly enough this is especially true 14:56
  • after the MeToo movement, with men saying, "oh, I'm not going 14:58
  • into a meeting", investors particularly not 15:02
  • meeting with the women founder. 15:06
  • - Wow. 15:08
  • - Which is really sad. 15:09
  • So, just continuing mentorship we often record 15:12
  • our Startup Challenges, and we love to have others present 15:16
  • and help work with the women led start-ups and their teams, 15:21
  • answering questions, working through challenges. 15:25
  • We also offer, not just cash prizes, 15:28
  • but we try to offer in kind prizes that are very specific 15:32
  • to what each start-up needs. 15:35
  • So, our 10 finalists, we ask them their different needs 15:37
  • that they might have, and if we're able to, 15:40
  • we help them fulfil those. 15:42
  • So, our last Startup Challenge was Virginia Tech at Google. 15:44
  • And we were able to offer legal services, PR services, 15:49
  • additional pitch coaching, so things that would really help 15:55
  • the start-ups feel confident to strive and to succeed. 15:58
  • And with being able to offer the cash 16:01
  • and these additional prizes, we've awarded more than $1million 16:04
  • in prizes and services. 16:08
  • And that's really great, 16:10
  • given that we just started it three years ago. 16:12
  • So, this upcoming one will be our seventh Challenge. 16:14
  • And, we definitely are looking for sponsors, 16:18
  • people to support women in technology 16:22
  • and women founders particularly. 16:25
  • And then really just what we ask that people are aware 16:29
  • about creating diverse cultures. 16:33
  • It's something that we really admire and also expect. 16:35
  • - Yeah, right. 16:40
  • Well, we'll make sure that we put some links up 16:41
  • as we did last time with the video so that anyone watching 16:43
  • can find out how to get involved. 16:46
  • - Yeah, and if you're a woman led start-up in Europe, 16:48
  • we would love, love, love to have you apply 16:51
  • for the Women Startup Challenge. 16:54
  • Applications are actually open until August 7th. 16:55
  • We just extended the deadline. 16:59
  • And it's a pretty simple, 17:01
  • straightforward application process. 17:03
  • It would be the opportunity to pitch at City Hall in Paris, 17:05
  • since we are partnering with Mayor Anne Hidalgo. 17:10
  • And it's just an awesome opportunity we have. 17:14
  • We're giving away over $60000 in cash, 17:18
  • including that $25000 award by Mozilla. 17:20
  • So, lots of amazing things, lots of great opportunities, 17:24
  • our jurors are great. 17:28
  • We have people also from the BBC, from The Next Web. 17:30
  • We have lots of really great jurors. 17:34
  • We have Airbnb, the co-founder of Mozilla will actually be 17:37
  • on our in person jury. 17:40
  • So, lots of awesome exposure, and we just, 17:42
  • our goal really is to help fund as many women led start-ups 17:45
  • as possible and to really give them more visibly. 17:48
  • - Yeah, that's great, yeah and I know the quality of the 17:51
  • candidates is always brilliant. 17:53
  • And from networking and learning 17:55
  • and from other things and making connections 17:57
  • you're feeling like you're not alone as well. 18:00
  • Knowing that there are some other female 18:02
  • led start-ups out there, is so... 18:04
  • - Yeah, it's just so validating, 18:05
  • so validating to have these other people 18:09
  • with similar experiences or amazing successes that are 18:11
  • just in one space and able 18:15
  • to really help build each other up. 18:16
  • And we do see that throughout each of our Startup Challenges 18:18
  • it's less of a competition amongst ten finalists, 18:21
  • but more of them just being so supportive of each other. 18:25
  • We had one start-up in our last Startup Challenge 18:28
  • who actually while we were doing a one-on-one pitch coach, 18:31
  • she called me afterwards and she was like, "you know I 18:35
  • really, I reached out to one of the other start-ups, 18:39
  • because listening to her pitch just made something click 18:41
  • in my mind about something better I could be doing". 18:44
  • And she was, "I am so grateful". 18:46
  • She's like "if I just reached her 18:47
  • and told her how wonderful she is". 18:49
  • It just feels so good to see that support 18:51
  • and that we're building networks that's just like 18:53
  • a global network, where women and everyone really is able 18:56
  • to participate in this uplifting of incredible companies. 19:01
  • - Yeah, that's great, it is. 19:06
  • Yeah, so any kind of employers, start-up, investors, 19:08
  • we're really encouraging you to seek this out, 19:12
  • if you're not familiar with it already. 19:13
  • Well thanks so much for chatting to me again Justyn. 19:15
  • And yeah, no doubt, we'll have plenty more 19:17
  • to talk about in the future as well, 19:19
  • but good luck for the next Challenge. 19:21
  • And I'll look forward to hearing about the winners. 19:24
  • - Yeah, thank you Jen and good luck 19:27
  • in your search for a developer. 19:28
  • - Yeah thanks, I think we'll need it! 19:30
  • But yeah, we will get there. 19:31
  • - You will get there. 19:33
Go to the profile of Jen Thoroughgood

Jen Thoroughgood

Chief Product Officer, Zapnito

For nearly 20 years, I've worked in the digital media sector, with hands-on experience in editorial, marketing, sales and R&D. I'm passionate about engaging and understanding customers to develop great content and products. I'm here to help you get the most from Zapnito and would love to hear from you.

No comments yet.