Jodi Sherman Jahic, a managing partner at early-stage venture capital firm Aligned Partners, wrote a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece published Friday that nicely encapsulates what Gutsy Broads is all about: Giving obstacles a big, fat middle finger — and then helping other women do the same.
Jahic acknowledges the obstacles in her career, but she doesn’t dwell on them. “Here is the more important story: I gritted it out, and over time I succeeded,” she writes. “It’s now 2015, and I’m still in technology, still in Silicon Valley, and still in venture capital, now as a managing partner.”
Jahic is adamant: When Silicon Valley ignores female talent, it does a disservice not just to women, but also to humanity as a whole.
“The people who wield the checks hold enormous sway over the technologies that shape our lives. For all of Silicon Valley’s absurd self-importance, it is ultimately the technology decision-makers — the partners in Sand Hill Road venture firms, the executives at large technology companies — who own the budgets, and their funding decisions determine which technologies will get developed and which ones will die. If these decisions are made by one powerful but limited subgroup alone, the funding allocations lack perspective, and society as a whole suffers. Any woman who has ever undergone a mammogram and wondered, ‘Who on earth would design something so uncomfortable and humiliating?’ can relate to the consequences.” — Jodi Sherman Jahic, Why Silicon Valley needs to recognize, promote successful women – San Francisco Chronicle
She writes that though she doesn’t have “a story of victimhood,” too few of her peers stay in technology, or enter it in the first place, because of “thousands of tiny micro-cuts, meaningless individually, that build up over time to real injury” — biases both overt and subtle.
Jahic offers three solutions to Silicon Valley’s diversity problem. They’re listed below, along with some suggestions from me for implementing them:
1. “Acknowledge that unconscious bias exists and get educated on its forms. Train yourself and others to recognize bias and learn how to address it.”
- The Anti-Defamation League offers a number of anti-bias workshops and programs.
- DiversityInc also has a wealth of information on this topic.
- I also like these practical tips for fighting unconscious bias from Training magazine.
2. “Insist that conferences, panels and work-related social events include women. There are many highly skilled and extremely credible female tech executives, but we are not always visible (and we are usually not excited to speak primarily about gender, as it is the least relevant thing about our work).”
- Refer to Step One, and make sure your company’s PR staff take part in the training.
- Read the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s great list of ways to increase the visibility of female leadership. I especially like No. 10: “Use your own network to help women expand their networks, connecting them with influential people across the company and in the industry.”
3. “Publicize female experts and leaders in your organizations. Make sure their tales of success get told. …Patterns need to be visible to be recognized, and if women are not seen, they will not be part of the pattern.”
- HEY, THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR! I humbly suggest you use the Gutsy Broads platform to do exactly this.
- Be generous with praise. If someone does extraordinary work, tell people — especially her manager — about it.
- Some project management tools (Workfront, for example) have an endorsement feature. Use it!
- If your company’s Intranet has a “shout out” section, use it!
- Also, if you admire someone’s work, write her a great LinkedIn recommendation.
I tip my hat to this woman. The world needs more people like her.