Women in Technology is a hot topic that has gained a lot of traction over the past few years, specifically in the Bay Area, where the deficit of women is noticeable in almost every office you set foot in. As people and companies come together to solve the issue, one thing has become crystal clear: the problem stems from a quantity problem—there aren’t enough women in the tech career funnel, starting from childhood STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. From a young age, females are socialized to play with Barbies, while males are encouraged to build with Legos. By the time these children get into elementary school, the pipeline gap has already made an impact on the future of tech professionals.
So, we have identified the problem, and want to do something about it. Here’s where things get a little bit trickier… WHAT can we do? The news is constantly talking about individual efforts of what companies are doing to “fill the gap”, and organizations like the Hackbright Academy and Grace Hopper Celebration organized by the Anita Borg Institution are gaining more velocity, but it takes a lot of momentum to make the kind of change that needs to happen. It cannot be one company’s efforts, or a small group of people’s individual efforts; we need the widespread collaboration of women and men alike to come together to make strides to fix the problem.
It was with these thoughts, on a beautiful San Francisco evening, Laura Spaventa (PR Manager, AppDynamics) left the office to attend her weekly SoulCycle class. For those of you unfamiliar with SoulCycle, it is a re-invented indoor cycling fitness routine, where riders come together for 45 minutes to ride as one pack, one united force, and transform the way riders look and feel together. The organization is built on the idea of unity and connection with other class members. Spinning, on the bike, Laura had an idea. The idea was simple: unite these women in technology to come ride together for a positive reason to make a change.
Once the gears were put in motion, the plan started taking shape. Who would attend? Many inspirational and pioneering Women in Tech leaders are already located in the Bay Area, so we would reach out to them and invite them to ride. (While we do recognize that women are only half of the solution, and we will require men allies and champions to really make a change, we thought it would be awesome if we could kick off this event in full female force. We do hope it is very successful, and we can invite both men and women to the following events!)
After almost no time at all, the only thing left was choosing a non-profit to partner with and donate the proceeds of the event to. Luckily, this puzzle piece was a no-brainer, as we knew we wanted to put the money towards solving the STEM pipeline problem. We contacted Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D. who founded Oakland-based non-profit Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI). The local organization is committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and fostering their unrecognized talent for the advancement of our nation. LPFI’s main programs promote computer science through events like hackathons and workshops, intensive summer and weekend educational programs, and research studies.
Now, we are just over two weeks away from the event, which is taking place at the SOMA SoulCycle location on June 28th. Women from tech companies all over the Bay Area as well as girls benefiting from LPFI’s organization will attend and ride together to help make changes to this gender gap. One day, we will finally achieve equality in the workplace, until then, we will do whatever we can to help this change happen.