Professor, researcher, and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa, alongside award-winning journalist Farai Chideya, set out to crowd-create a book featuring research, stories, and perspectives about women’s global participation in the innovation economy. Wadhwa and Chideya expected fifty contributions from women; they received more than 500.
With interviews and essays from hundreds of women in STEM fields — including Anousheh Ansari the first female private sector space explorer, Google [X] VP Megan Smith, Ory Okolloh of the Omidyar Network, venture capitalist Heidi Roizen and CEO of Nanobiosym Dr. Anita Goel, MD, PhD — Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology offers perspectives on the challenges that women face, the strategies that they employ in the workplace, and how an organization can succeed or fail in its attempts to support the career advancement of women.
Here are partial excerpts from some of the women in the book:
S. Mitra Kalita:
A certain type of person gravitates toward innovations that attempt to disrupt the status quo. And it’s especially hard for women, with the high stakes of leaving a steady paycheck and time with children behind, to embrace risk. When people ask me why I keep doing these new projects (she is the ideas editor at Quartz), the common theme that has emerged is that women are a necessary part of any industry trying to innovate or reinvent itself. Startups need women. And the ones I have done happen to need me. I hate the term “office mom,” but I do think we have this ability to nurture and mentor, give tough love, be blunt in our criticism, and also keep going the immediacy, the need for decisive action and precision. We’re good at keeping the trains running and figuring out where they’re going. So I might not want to be the office mom, but I suspect a lot of women like me look around and are happy to play the role or fill the void that’s needed, to do what needs to be done. And startups are all about what needs to be done.”
Born in Canada to parents from Pakistan, Shaherose studied business and technology at the University of Western Ontario. In 2005, she took a leap of faith that would change her life. A friend sold her on the idea of going to Silicon Valley. She had a job interview… but didn’t get the job. Nonetheless, she was so entranced with the energy and vision there that she went to her bank, took out a line of credit, and moved to technology’s Promised Land. But things weren’t quite what Charania expected.
“I arrived here and noticed —it’s weird, but I was the only girl in the room. I started to get to know a lot of investors, and they were funding their friends from college, their guy friends from their dorm rooms.” At the same time, she was watching female entrepreneurs in emerging economies become more educated and sophisticated and gain access to capital through microloans. As they were continuing to grow in power and develop bigger businesses, the role of women was truly changing in these markets, but “they wouldn’t find role models when they looked to the West,” which led to the start of Women 2.0.
Pratury brought TED talks on ‘Technology, Entertainment, Design’ to India in 2009. The first TedIndia talk was thus held, and the following year she hosted and curated INK. Pratury tells the story of Madhumita Halder, an INK Fellow and an IIT graduate who worked in the tech industry and then quit to become a teacher for four years. Armed with the knowledge of combining learning with play, Halder co-founded MadRat Games, which designed the world’s first Indian language word game, Aksharit. This has been translated into 11 different languages and adopted by over 2,500 schools. In the three years since she has been an INK Fellow, MadRat games has grown, and the firm now boast of hundreds of board games in multiple languages available for all age groups.
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Interested in reading more? Buy the book here. All proceeds from the sales go to Singularity University to a fund that will help educate women and fund their startups. Please visit innovatingwomen.org for more information. The book launches on September 9, 2014. RSVP for the launch party in San Francisco here: The Center for Advanced Technology & Innovation.
Hailed by Foreign Policy Magazine as a Top 100 Global Thinker, and by TIME Magazine as one of The 40 Most Influential Minds in Tech, Vivek Wadwha is a technology entrepreneur and academic. He is also author of The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent — which was named by The Economist as a Book of the Year of 2012.
Farai Chideya has combined media, technology, and socio-political analysis during her 20-year career as an award-winning author, journalist, professor, and lecturer. She frequently appears on public radio and cable television, speaking about race, politics, and culture. She is the author of the novel Kiss the Sky, and her other books include Don’t Believe the Hype, The Color of Our Future and Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters.