Saturday, December 20, 2008

Inspiring Female Entrepreneur - Karen Darby

I've just discovered this wonderful entrepreneur from the UK called, Karen Darby. Here's a woman says she felt she knew she wanted to run her own business from around the age of 8. She took on lots of jobs as a youngster, and lied about her age to get a job at a laundromat. She set up her own telemarketing company at the age of 22, and after 7 years had 200 employees and was making 4 million pounds. In the 90's she had two kids and started to work for herself again, training up customer call centers. In 2003 she set up a new business called, 'simplyswitch'. She was thoroughly passionate about the business as it was responsible for helping people get a good deal on switching between services (phone, energy, etc). She loved the business, and finally decided the time to sell the company in 2006 for 22 million pounds (approx $44M). Below is her list of top tips for success, and here's a link to a terrific interview with her - full of much sound advice and wonderful insight on the why behind her decisions.

Here's her tip list to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Do what you love
Create a white hot burning desire
Create leverage – commit to doing something with determination
Maintain a laser beam focus on your business idea
Use someone else’s money – seek funding opportunities
Be a rhino – learn how to handle rejection
Employ smart people + network like crazy – surround yourself with a strong team
Be enthusiastic
Live the brand – you are the best possible PR for your company
Give yourself a check up form the neck up on a regular basis
Hypnotize yourself – tell yourself you’re wonderful and your ideas are
Know when not to listen – especially to negative comments
Double your failure rate
And remember most of all - timing is everything.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Transferring Passion for Shoes to Technology? How Could That Be Possible?

Christina Tynan-Wood writes a simple yet direct article on why there aren't more women in technology and why they are needed on the Product Design and Development site. She recounts a time in 1996 when she was the @home technology editor for PC World, and after spending time with the 'suits' presenting new home computers asked why they were so ugly if they were for the home. At that time she was brushed aside. Yet, really home PC for the home should be more attractive - she had a point. She mentions that while men may say that women are the ones who are fussy about trend and color in fact men are actually possibly more fussy. Women put up with the black technology that is obviously geared to men's decor, whereas make it for women and men won't use it. (Isn't this true of women being more accommodating of seeing block buster male movies, than insisting taking partners to women movies? - too darn accommodating is our problem at times).
So yes, she says today it's more important than ever that we speak up and let it be known we want choice. I love her comparison to shoes. Have technologists not realized how much insane money women spend on shoes - it's completely irrational spending but a wonderful defining experience. And thank you Christina also for saying that we can't say what those technologies will look like because we don't have a room full of women designing the technologies. A possible example is some research done at HP Labs, where they have used their color matching technology to assist women in finding the perfect foundation make-up shade - this is applying technologies previously used for color copiers for more creative uses - yes there were women in the room when the idea came up.

Make the Path Easier for Next Gen

So 40% of all businesses in America are owned by women, but only 20% of the women owned businesses make more than $1M. Of those that are making the big money 80% of them say they belong to a formal business organization or network. Making those connections, networking and getting mentoring truly make a difference. If you have an opportunity to provide a helping hand to women owned businesses do - it makes a difference. Rivea Lesonsky, in a Bizjournals post, points to the need to pass on experience and assistance and don't make those that follow in your footsteps have to learn all the mistakes themselves because there was no one to teach you. How true that is. I am committed to working the change of empowering women to be who they are and achieve what they desire, and know it will take more than a lifetime to succeed. I do it to make a path a little less challenging for my daughters.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Women Are Better Marketers. What Does That Mean?

Here's a comprehensive article on why women make better marketing people than men from Branding Strategy Insider. The author even drives home the point that when you look in most marketing departments, sure the most highly paid marketer is probably going to be a guy but the actual best marketer is likely to be a woman. What does that tell us?
The article has so many complimentary points as to why you'd want a woman as your marketer, and so much resonated in general with the world I have worked in, like, males tend to want to step into the limelight when product launches are heralded, whereas women are more about the right people being forward to represent the brand. A fine example was given in Rose-Marie Bravo, chief executive of Burberry. She hired a designer, creative director to become her spokesperson for the brand whenever the press needed to engage in brand rather than step into the limelight herself. Right thing for the brand, but would a guy have been as willing to take a back seat?
One take away from the article should be for women in marketing to have confidence and ask for more recognition - you are worth it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Movement for Women in Top Earner Numbers

New numbers came out today looking at the percentage of top earners that are women in the US - and that percent would be .... 6.2% which is basically the same number as last year 6.7%. (Catalyst). Across the board there were no gains in number of directors on board of companies (15.1%), and number of corporate officer positions being held by women (15.7%).
The manager of the research is optimistic change is in the air in a good way for women next year but not based on fact but their feeling about how Obama is making up his cabinet with women and minorities. Unfortunately I am not as optimistic given the economic climate. As jobs become fewer, opportunities close, and the need for a strong network will be more important than ever.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strong correlation between female senior executives and strong financial performance

A piece of research by McKinsey suggests that there is a strong correlation between having high numbers of women senior executives and stronger financial performance. Companies with this make-up also have a stronger opportunity to draw from a larger talent pool as talent is in short supply.
Unfortunately I don't have access to the research at the moment, but I will be on the look out for additional quotes from this particular study. It's not the first time there have been positive correlations between financial performance and having women senior executives in the company. However the more data we have to support this situation the better and the more diverse the types of company the better. The previous research I saw was based primarily on the financial industry.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Products Aim at Female Audience

Oooooh two new products targeted at women, how do you like them?
First is a wrist watch from Sony Ericsson that has built-in blue tooth. As someone who still doesn't really use a cell phone (long story, but so far has worked to my advantage) I'm not sure how to rate it, however the features are cool in the way that I use to think being a spy could be a glamorous adventurous job - I'd glance at my watch to see who is calling on the phone. It will also vibrate when a text is sent, and can hook up to a blue-tooth ear piece to accept a call. However I'm not entirely sure on the watch design - I may lack cell phone cool, but I happen to be a watch wearer and these don't really hit my bar for trendy watches. HOWEVER - I credit companies for trying to address the female audience, we're a tough crowd but when they get fashion and technology in sync someone is going to have a huge success.
Next up is Audio Technica headphones, they claim designed for women. They come in an array of different colors, and colorful tins to keep the earbuds in. They claim to be with 'superior comfort designed for women' but the proof is in women finding them comfortable - I would hate to think someone launched into a new range of hardware without considering the anthropomorphic differences of the audience they're targeting.
So two product areas where companies are trying to blend technology and fashion to address women. I'd like to meet their engineering/design teams to understand the gender mix of the groups - are these products designed by men for women, or mix gender teams?
Bottom-line -- keep trying the innovations aimed at women, I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Traditional views of women's roles by men have implications for women's careers

As this research is out there I feel I need to comment on it, though I have a lot of questions about the sample of the population studied and details of the study. Research from the University of Florida reports that men with more traditional views of women will get higher pay than men with more gender equality views.
I would be interested to delve into their political beliefs and also the type of homes they grew up in and the roles their parents played (both working or not, single). I would also like to see information on salaries that compare women with stay-at-home husbands compared to women with working husbands. I have been surprised by how many senior women I've met whose husband are at home.
The participants in the study are between 39 and 47 years old. They had to rate statements on gender roles. The difference in salary was$8500 between men with a traditional view, and those with less traditional views.
In a less generous mood I might wonder how many women did these men step on to move on up the ladder, and how many are they blind to potential to grow after them. This does have implications for impacting women's careers but I need to see the complete study to know what we're truly discussing here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

College Can be Dangerous for Your Confidence

This article relates closely to the previous posting that women could so benefit from a boost in their confidence. They can do it, they really can but for some reason we keep under playing our abilities because of our lack of confidence. Take a look at this article by Kathy Wyer she reports on some research at UCLA on academic accomplishments, abilities, and personal traits. Linda J. Sax, associate researcher, has been reviewing the data - men are entering college in fewer numbers and less academically engaged, but during the college experience become strongly influenced by academic faculty and develop intellectual self-confidence at a greater rate to women. I'm interested to know more about how she evaluates academic ability and self-confidence - during the college years from her research it appears to impact gender, what does the growth look like after a few years in the work place?
Linda draws several conclusions from her research related to several areas including: academic engagement, interaction with faculty, health and well-being, staying close to home, and selection of majors and careers. Her research can be found in her recent published book: The Gender Gap in College: Maximizing the Potential of Women and Men.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wait a Minute - Where are the Women Going?

After growing in number for a few years the number of female CEOs in the Bay Area is declining. Why is this?
Fewer women received venture capital funding in 2007, and there are fewer women in CEO positions, only 13 in the bay areas largest 400 companies/Fortune 500 companies. The article published in the San Francisco Business Times, by Lindsay Riddell. They quote Wendy Beecham as saying more women are opting out than there were 10 years ago. They also quote that percentage of female CEOs receiving venture capitalist funding was at 3% for 2007. Why don't more women receive funding?
Two issues come up - first, when asking venture capitalists who do they lend money too - they say people they know - because women have smaller networks that automatically reduces the number of women who are going to get an opportunity to get funding. A second issue is also how big a game you talk. Women are more likely to be conservative with their success estimates, thus putting them in a less strong position when negotiating and trying to win funding.
So the numbers for 2007 map to a story we have heard before: we need to get out and network with all that will be useful to us, not just women, AND next time up our success capability.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lighting Up Fashion With Technology

I discovered some inspiring work today, or rather a creative friend pointed me to the work of Leah Buechley. She's currently a PhD student at the University of Boulder. Her area of focus is to combine technology and textiles and what super creations she's coming up with, and she's also making it approachable for others.
Some of her projects use fabric-based iron-on circuits also known as 'fabric PCBs' (Printed circuit boards), some small electronic sequins. Its a wonderful creative combination of sewing craft and technology.
I love her efforts to make accessible science with textile with such projects as math handbags, where she offered a Science Discover workshop for 11-14 year old students could use her graphing program to create their own math graph bags and other items.
Leah's philosophy of wanting to combine science and technology with more 'feminine' activities (as she puts it) is close to my own intentions. In the summer I blogged about the concern I had when my kids at science camp were becoming bored of boats, boats, boats, or planes, planes, planes, they needed more of Leah's philosophy injected into the plan.
I can not do justice to the breadth of inventiveness of Leah's work and highly recommend taking a look at her projects including LED clothing, sewing circuits, quilt snaps, LED bracelets. I myself might actually invest in some of the electronic sequins - my girls would certainly love to have something other than buttons on the clothes I make for them (btw I am not the dress maker my mother was but can just about sew a dress but my speciality is Halloween costumes where impression over accuracy is what matters!).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yes, Yes - More Thoughtful Efforts on Technologies for Women!

It was fun to read the blog posting yesterday, 'No Pink Phones - A New Twist on Technology for Women'. I have tried to keep my blog postings also free of pink-ness where possible, because making a current technology pink doesn't mean to say it's addressing the womens market.
I credit Dr. Ying Chen for setting up La-Yin with putting her action where her heart is and setting up her own business to, 'create experiences for modern women by fusing High-Tech together with fashion and style'. The products from La-Yin currently includes different styles of USB keys, laptop covers, mobile straps.
It would be wondeful to see some of this exterior technology style influence the technology itself. What are womens needs of the items that we are attracted to dress up. For instance consider the Amazon Kindle (reader), imagine if that was designed for a female audience how might it differ in design? are there any distinct features or aesthetics that should be considered differently to accomodate needs? I haven't yet had an opportunity to use one, however what I'd like to see again is if the product team was predominantly female in the first place and considering a predominantly female market how may the product have emerged differently. Today its often consideration after the fact. Take a look at the Kindle and see how you might design it differently.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Through the Glass Ceiling and You May Face a Glass Cliff

An article in Business Week refreshes the notion that women in top positions sometimes find themselves facing glass cliffs, a term coined by a paper from 2005. They explain that there is more attention on women that fail, but critics sometimes fail to acknowledge that the situation the woman entered was already a tough situation where a company was in decline. When women are struggling to 'right the ship' it is difficult. Women are often isolated in their position of leadership with less mentors and a smaller network to leverage to weather the storm.
So the next time you hear about a senior woman being dismissed or relegated remember to ask yourself what the situation was like before they entered the position. Remember to give them a second chance. A significant portion of women in science, engineering and technology feel that when they fail they rarely get a second chance.

Mentoring Women Across Countries

I am always pleased to read about programs like this: Northwood University mentoring helps Afghan women better market their goods and ideas. There are so many women in the world that are trying to make a living (and lets remember a living in many countries is just that - enough money to feed their family and keep them sheltered). A small amount of mentoring can make a big difference to how successful their businesses can be. In this article Zainul Arab Meire, from Afghanistan is learning to that should can make products from beeswax such as hand cream and lip gloss to make additional money than that from honey which she sells in Kabul. There are also women attending the mentoring course who are working in construction industry as well.
Small gestures of mentoring can have large impact of women's lives when they return to their countries.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ambition abounds in women around the world

I read a nice story today that demonstrates that ambition, focus and determination can help you get results in the world of business. Voice of America reported on UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and a program called EMPRETEC which trains entrepreneurs, men and women, to develop skills and grow their businesses. The article comments that 40-50% of enterprises in developing countries are owned by women.
The article focuses on Sapphira Nyabunwa who set up a cleaning business in Uganda. She not only cleans but also offers lawn care services, defumigation, and laundry among other services, and has large clients in health care, hotels, and government. She talks of her path to setting up the business on her own. The endearing part of the article isn't simply another woman based business but the ambition it has instilled in her daughter to own her own business when she grows up. Role models are so incredibly important in the next generation.
Sapphira received second prize in the Women in Business awards now set up by EMPRETEC to award successful role models.
The first prize went to Sana Zaal Burgan, from Jordan, she had received EMPRETEC training earlier in her business career. One quote that I love is that from the training she, '...realized that I am not crazy and that thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world share my personality traits.'
A complete list of the nominees and prize winners can be found on the EMPRETEC website.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What a Day in Politics!

I was interested to find this video from the Blogher site where Erin Kotecki Vest has been attending the Democratic National Convention. She attended a panel entitled, Cracks in the Glass Ceiling. After the panel Erin interviewed the panelists, which included Marie Wilson from the White House Project. I happen to be a huge fan of Marie's book, 'Closing the Leadership Gap'. I completely agree that it is critical to get more women into politics because that is were some fundamental decisions get made that influence everything that follows. However I was a little disappointed to hear that the panelists were so keen to push for a percentage of women in government. This is a tough debate, I am still of the opinion that pushing for a quota if qualified candidates aren't available won't help the real cause.
There was an interesting turn of events later in the morning when John McCain announced his running mate to be Sarah Palen - this is a calculated vote generating move - how it plays out will come with time.

Why Are Lists of Powerful People Important?

Today Forbes posted a list they believe to be the most powerful 100 women in the world. The SFGates wrote an article highlighting that 5 women on the list come from the Bay area. It was interesting to read the comments left under the article. The posts mostly commented on the purpose of the list, or who should be higher on the list. However a numbered list of people is an easy article to write, and numbers in headlines apparently sell publications - I'm always interested in reviewing lists of people - this list brought to my attention some people I had not previously heard of like, Safra Catz President of Oracle, and Susan Decker, President of Yahoo! from the Bay area. Whenever I read about women who have made it to the top ranks it always instills a feeling of support, and thanks to them for pushing forward. Only 3% of corporations are run by women, so the article says. Many on the list are in politics, and the number one person on the list for the third year is Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.
So why are lists of powerful women important - maybe it isn't scientific but it does get attention on women forging the way for others. Lots of work to do to even make that a double digit number. I wonder if there are any predictions on when that might happen?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Most Powerful Women - Take a Break and Be Inspired

I am inspired by Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit. These are the top women in business. There was panel with lots of high flyers - Andrea Jung (CEO Avon), Anne Moore (CEO Time Inc), and Ursula Burns (President, Xerox). Here are links to three video clips from the conference.

Mentors to Most Powerful Women

Clips also on that page: Mentoring the next women CEOs (5 min) & Breaking the CEO Glass Ceiling (apologies - i wanted to link to these clips but was shortcut-hyperlinked challenged on the Fortune site).

The next summit is in October, however with a price tag of close to $4K dollars for 3 days, I'm doubtful many of us will attend, but staying tuned to hear the quality sound bytes will be worthwhile.

Now sometimes the tricky thing about keeping a blog, is that as you're about to publish a post you come across another slew of interesting information. Here's the best link I've found so far with links to video and content from previous 'Most Powerful Women' events. I haven't had a chance to check it out, but it certainly looks like empowering content. May be I shouldn't be going on vacation tomorrow, there's so much to do, and so many lessons to learn from these amazing women. But... sound body and mind is also a key foundational block for any future leader!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Worry Be Happy - But We Do

The MIT AgeLab has recently completed a large scale survey to investigate concerns about retirement. They have found large differences between men and women. The area where men are more worried than women is potential for being bored during retirement - there us women don't have many worries, but virtually on every other front we are more worried, and as the article says - probably with good reason.
The 3 primary areas where worries occur are: Inflation, Health, and Longevity. The researchers say it isn't unfounded worries given women tend to outlive their spouses, and a large number of women will end up living on significantly smaller incomes than men in retirement. Health, it suggests that women have to do a better job of taking care of themselves, much of their health energy is applied to looking after aging parents and their spouse. It's important to remember to take care of yourself. The final concern is about insuring they have enough assets to last them through their final days.

Increasing women's knowledge of investment funds, retirement funds, and working with financial planners is something that needs to happen. Yes, women do manage much of the money in the home and large financial decisions I haven't read of women's knowledge in long term planning happening. Potentially an area for growth.

Getting Above the Glass Ceiling Before It Forms has just hosted it's conference. Sounds like it was a wonderful event. The one fact that I picked up from the NYT article was that among internet users 14% of men blog, and 11% of women, however when it comes to top bloggers it is rare to find women's names in the list.

Who sets the rules for which candidates are selected for top listings? We need more influence in these lists, but again its legacy of a old system to judge new contributions. I use google alerts to help me keep up with topics to post on this blog. I love receiving custom news snippets about things I care about, I can never tell if I'm not paying attention to enough main stream news/technology media, or whether I don't find it appealing because of bias in the content (not the reporting but the styles don't resonate with my needs). There is more data today about our buying purchase power, our income, and our capability to set up businesses. I would love to see as new avenues for communication become available or new topics get hot women are able to play stronger roles in the first rounds, so as to not leave us on the outside trying to get in after the fact. Any ideas how we can do this?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Maths Knows No Gender Boundary

... at least at for grades 2 through 11. The No child left behind act has allowed researchers to review standardized test results. A careful analysis of the results from those tests suggests there is no difference in scores for girls and boys. They looked at results for California and 9 other states, and no difference was found. In another data set looking at complex reasoning skills gender differences were too small to be meaningful.

What needs to happen to keep girls on a science track to make it attractive to pull them through to the next level of science? How do we make it personable, where's the face and social part in the math syllabus at university?

LA times Article.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thank You for People Like Dorcas Muthoni

I love technology and the ability that global connections are easier to make today. The article here, in the Business Daily Africa announces the Anita Borg Change Agent Award going to Dorcas Muthoni, who is the general manager of OpenWorld. She receives the award because of her 3 year investment getting more girls and young women interested in Information Communication Technology (ICT). They talk of the challenges that girls face when they don't know the breadth of what ICT includes before they reject it as a career path. To solve this problem doesn't just involve reaching out to the individuals but also the career counsellors (often teachers) to provide the right encouragement based on the right knowledge, instead of steering women away to more typical careers.

Another woman talks about her motivation to be involved in outreach programs to pull more women into ICT - she had experienced too many times being in a room of men at events and the assumption being she was the event organizer.

The article contrasts the outcome of not participating in outreach programs with the world that could exist if the right mentoring is provided at the right times. On days I'm exhausted, I read articles like this and it makes me find extra breathe to keep going and making it better for the next generation.

How Can We Make Science More Appealing?

Reading this article comes on an interesting day as it's about women in science, and this week my daughters (6 and 8 years) are in science camp. The first day my daughters came home from camp they were excited to used a motor on hand-made bases with wheels - little cars - as my kids described them, and a paper airplane. At the end of day two, they had been excited to take apart a VCR, TV, and keyboard, but then also mentioned that they'd made planes, planes, and more planes. Today they were happy with dismantling another keyboard, but then said it was boats, boats, boats most of the day. There are only 2 girls and 4 boys in the camp. My husband and I are trying to inject people into the discussion of what they're making and how different boats and planes could be designed for different needs to humanize what they're doing. I don't remember when they started to associate these objects with boys, but they are looking for the girl angle or project in the science camp.

Now I read about the challenges in the field of chemistry for female accademics. How a small amount of positive reinforcement and encouragement can go along way to keep people on course. I hadn't read about the research before related to the review of resumes for tenure positions. The article mentions that the same resume was sent out to 200 psychologists who hard a strong leaning to hiring if the name on the resume was male. A difference occured for the resume for tenure as the gender didn't make a difference, however the notes on the resume suggested more follow up for details, research papers, etc. on the female resumes. The article doesn't mention whether there was a difference in whether the reviewer was male or female, but continues to say women often have the same biases as men.

We spend so much of our time working without feedback, encouragement, or reinforcement that we're on path - did you also know that managers are less likely to give direct feedback to women than men? This puts us at a disadvantage, unless we figure out how to get feedback.

A take away from the article on the Chemistry field is to create supportive networks. They do mention this in the article.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Remembering the Nearness of the Past

I wanted to make a quick entry today to remember how recent it is that women had the vote in the UK. July 2nd, 2008, marked the 80th anniversary of women having the vote. I am always confused between the celebration of how far we've come, and then how far we have to go. For example women are still struggling to get fair pay in technology in the UK.
I sincerely hope at the 100th anniversary my daughters will be celebrating equality.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Double Standards? Perception or Myth We Have to Deal with it

Who holds whom to a different standard? There was an article published yesterday about the removal of Chief Financial Officer, Erin Callan from Lehman Brothers from her position after the lose of $2.8B in a quarter. The male COO/President was also removed from his position. The article raises questions as to whether women are dealt with differently and need to achieve higher results or judged more harshly when they fail, however the article doesn't say that Erin was treated inappropriately, but with so few women in high positions, when one is removed from responsibilities it does rapidly reduce the percentage of women in top positions.

I read in 'Why Women Mean Business' recently and was disheartened to learn that women aren't willing to apply for a job until their skills fit almost 100% with the job descriptioni, whereas a man will apply when he has 60% of the skills (NOTE: I need to confirm the numbers, but my memory has them pegged around that order of magnitude). If that wasn't bad enough hiring managers (didn't say whether malel or female) are interested in women's resumes when they have most of the skills in the job requirement but will show interest in men's resumes when they have a lot fewer of the skills for the job requirement.

So where does that leave us?

  • Have courage to apply for jobs we might not think we're suitable for.

  • Be confident in our applications.

  • And work our networks to get the best opportunity for filling the roles we want.

We could choose to wait for the world to become a fair place but that doesn't happen in our time frame.

I also recommend visiting where Lisa Quast does an honest job of explaining how she has built her career to become Executive Vice President of Strategy for Royal Philips Electonics.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Repeating What Women Want - How is it Possible?

Here's a neat article on 'What Women Want' that documents the growth of the Lifetime Movie Network. This network launched in 1998. In 5 years it ended up with 4 million subscribers. It now boasts of 334K viewers in primetime network for 18+ women which is considered a prime segment. What I particularly like pulling from the article is this quote:

"Based on hundreds of focus groups and polls, Greco said, “Today’s woman, whether it’s real or perceived, feels like she’s really busy and has a fully loaded, hectic life.” Knowing that, LMN executives are attempting to portray and position the network as a TV destination that allows for a temporary escape. “It’s a place designed specifically for them, where they can take a break and escape, unwind, and have some personal time,” Greco said.

This again exactly maps to the philosophy of this blog - quick moments - that bring pleasure, and a break from everything else, where the experience is beautiful and the technology dissolves into the background. LMN has been experimenting with webisodes , they're getting into their strides with this. What other ways can we leverage technology to give us that momentary break and we can be immersed in the flow of the experience.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Rise of the Smart Phone for Women

An article published in the NYT today stated that the number of women who are purchasing smartphones has doubled to 10.4M in the last year. They are quoting newly released research from Nielsen Mobile.

Smartphone companies are starting to find women's sweet spot by targeting ads for their latest phones in Elle, Oprah, and Martha Stewart Living. A slight aside, is I've noticed in many 'House & Garden' type of magazines that in the beautiful glamour shots there is usual a photo of where the laptop fits into the house. These gadgets and technologies are part of our lives and if so they had better meet the beauty bar that the rest of female lives aspire to (note I use the word 'aspire' as so few of us achieve it.

I'm excited by what this power of gadgetry ownership will lead to - if there aren't a hundred companies out there figuring out how to provide 'quickmoments' for women on their portable smartphones then we're just not thinking right. For starters, how about reading the advice of the Download Squad on how to download books to your phone.

Hmmm... now when will my phone be able to give me a neck massage - wait there's an idea here - a massage phone accessory that plays a particular playlist while you relax and talk with a friend on the phone.

Anyone want to brainstorm on unbelievable services, accessories or more for the really smart phones?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Keeping Wired Women Working

Quick post about a new service called I found it on the money.cnn site. The article points out that each month a busy family probably spends up to 12 hours trouble shooting and maintaining their computer. This is quite a bit of time away from those 'quick moments'. The reason for including within scope of the blog is that they have a sweepstake going at the moment called, Wired Woman Sweepstake, to win a laptop and support services. They're obviously seeing an advantage of directing themselves at the female home decision maker - has providing technical support to the family now come up as a skill we need to have? The service is going to be featured in July's edition of Women's World Magazine.

So advice for the day is - back up your machine, you'll regret you didn't sometime soon no doubt according to statistics.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Ultimate Glass Ceiling Remains in Place

I can't have this site talk about getting more women into positions of power and decision making and not comment on Hilary Clinton not being the democratic choice for this fall election. Today in her concession speech she commented that not having been able to break the ultimate glass ceiling. Even though as Hilary said, "...we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it has about 18 million cracks in it", polls suggest that female democrats are very keen she should be on the ticket as VP. However while that may seem the next best title, does it carry as much decision making as a different leadership position in the senate?

I became a citizen just prior to the last election so I could vote. While my life is busy with work, family, and 'just stuff happening' (while also looking for a few quick-moments) I have to participate when I can in politics - if we don't participate we can't complain when change doesn't happen. Sometimes it's exhausting to participate but you do feel better when decisions are made that you did whatever you could to make a difference. Today Hilary is an example of someone who tried extremely hard to make change and she has made it happen in terms of making it a real possibility that a woman can be President of the United States.

Asian-Pacific Women Increasing their Control of Spend

At the Global Summit of Women (GSW) this week it was reported in China View that by 2014 women will control $516B. They are making their way to fill the openings in the job market and are well educated and living the single life style. The report was from Mastercard Worldwide.

In Hanoi, at the summit, the number of women starting small businesses was given. In the US the number is 40%, Europe a third, and China 25%, and Japan 20%. I always feel a wave of empowerment when I read about such events, the tide is turning and attention is being given to women in business. Alas as I move through the agenda I also read about "... and breaking the cycle of trafficking women and children." These are remain challenging times and there are many benefits to seeing women make their way forward and upward in business to make change happen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Glut of Women in the News and Making News

Lots of things of interest here. First the website - Newsonwomen is a neat find - a website that is focused on Women in the News. There's nothing more empowering some days than to read about a slew of women who are succeeding, if in doubt about how to succeed take a look here and be inspired. The article that caught my attention is related to a kickoff event called, 'Women Making a Difference in Digital Media'.

While looking at the presenters at the event I found out about Natalie Del Conte and 'Loaded', Natali kicked off an online series around CES season earlier this year. I've just taken a glimpse at a couple of the daily episodes. Its fast, happy, and an E! type of presentation but of technology. Natali does a nice job of presenting the facts and also has quick insightful one liners about 'her' perspective on the technology, position, or whatever. Her philosophy is generally that there are a lot of technology shows about the 'specs' but not about the 'personal experience', she hesitates when saying that women are more attracted to the personal experience as she doesn't want to offend but honestly I think she's onto something. It has the lightweight appeal of glamour mag show, but actually is informative and just the sort of information you might need to have to drop in a technology conversation, or appear tech savvy - but the great part of it here is it is consumable by non-hard core geeks, and will help you stay up to date, with the added refreshment of a female commentary.

Worth taking this podcast to the gym (now if only I could findmy podcast player wire to connect to the PC, and figure out how to download the podcast, and remember to have it charged when at the gym.... any solution for that anyone???)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Long Quick Moment: SATC

I know this blog is meant to be about Quick Moments and instantaneous moments of happiness brought about by using technology but I can't help but comment on the fabulous evening I've just had. For the first time in my life I attended a movie on opening night that was sold out and it wasn't an action flick but a chick flick - Sex and the City, what else could it be? And the astonishing thing is I cannot recall ever going to a sell out movie where the audience was 90% female.

Now the interesting thing is I have only watched a couple of episodes as we don't have cable at our house. However there had been a vibe building around this movie that suggested it would be an experience.

For over 2 hours this movie held the audience captive - they laughed, cheered, and called out during the movie. There was camaraderie in the crowd. Imagine for years this audience had been watching the episodes in isolation of their homes, and finally everyone was out watching it together. It was absolutely an experience to see this movie on opening night to feel the female power in the theater. What was the magic formula and how can Hollywood produce more spellbinding block busters for women. I certainly hope so. And while it wasn't exactly a technological experience, maybe I can make it count that my friend ordered and paid for the tickets online before the show in fear it would sell out (how right she was).

BTW I was also very pleased to see included in the movie reference to 'Bag-Borrow-Steal' which I mentioned in my post in January. Such a cool idea, great to see it in operation in the film. Now to develop the life style for the bag.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gender Brain Differences: What does it mean?

Here's a neat article from Forbes about gender differences and how they appear at work. Michael Gurian and Barbara Annis have studied this area for over 20 years and have published a book, Leadership and the sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business. It's a fascinating look at all that biological, behavioral, and physiological research and reframed in how it manifests itself at work and in business situations. While I would love to believe that both men and women are eating this type of research up to understand how to appreciate diversity in the workplace at the current time it's more beneficial for us women to read it and assume this is how our behaviors are interpreted. For example, women may run from one topic to the next before returning to the task at hand as we're born to multi-task, whereas men might appear to shut down in a meeting as their brains are more apt to enter a rest state. So the key is for women when in a business meeting full of men is to stay on topic and not link several topics together without keeping the audience present.

The article also emphasizes that neither gender approach is the ultimate successful approach, and that leaders and success can come from both genders. Again for us now as women the tricky part is understanding the rules of the game today, to increase our opportunity to succeed so we can create a more diverse and appreciative diverse work environment in the future.

There's a fun little slide show as well on the site that hightlights some of the top differences.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Inspiration with Geek Girl Dinners

Now I don't really consider myself a geek girl, as I'm not a geek in terms of coding but I like to embrace technology to aid me in enjoying my life, and I'm neither a girl as I passed that girlie stage in life a while ago - but Geek Girl Dinners sounds like it will be worth checking out, and there's one in Seattle in June (finally an event that not only do I know about it before it happens, but it's also in my home town).

Geek Girl Dinners was originally set up in London to foster a community of women to have fun and network. Their idea has traveled the globe and now there are dinners hosted in several countries around the world.

In the meantime, I watched a terrific video of the Geek Girl Dinner in the bay area from earlier in the year - awesome panel (starts 10 minutes in on the video). What an inspiring set of women of all ages and experiences. If only our lives could have that level of connectedness and advice on a regular basis I know the working world would be a different place.

We Know What Your Brain is Thinking!

Well, at least we know how there are differences between responses to certain situations, or at least we think there are. A new market research technique is being used to read brain patterns of participants in studies. The article is interesting as Jim Meskauskas, comments that we don't need this expensive research to confirm what common sense can tell us. The example in the story is about the differences in reaction between men and women when watching a detergent ad, where the story line has a pregnant woman drop some ice-cream onto her shirt. Men apparently show now stress when the ice-cream falls nor relief when the shirt comes out of the washer clean, meanwhile women show a ray of emotions to the story line.

I have worked with similar systems in user research and it's always hard to determine how actionable this type of data is, and also how difficult it is to be concise with the variables, but it feels there could be some interesting uses of it to make the world continue to recognize how different we all are when we respond to situations, especially genders. Data and sizes of differences certainly speaks in the business world (whether it's even valid or not).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Not A Rosie Picture for All

While I like to be upbeat and optimistic about the increase in wealth of women, I do need a reality check on for which segments of the female population is this the case. Increases in wealth is not for all women. An article in the highlights the challenges women are facing with the current tightening of the economy. A Rockerfeller Foundation study produced these following results:

  • One in five women had a medical prescription she couldn't afford to fill in the past year, compared with one out of eight men.
  • One in eight women reported that she couldn't afford to take a child to the doctor during the past year, compared with one out of 16 men.
  • One in 14 American women went hungry at some time last year because of lack of money, compared with one out of 25 men.
  • More American women – 56 percent – are worried about cutbacks to Social Security than men, at 41 percent. One reason for this disparity is that half of retired women count on Social Security as a major source of income, compared with 38 percent of retired men. And one reason for that is that more men have employment-provided retirement savings plans, at 61 percent, than women, at 51 percent.

Keeping gender successes in perspective is important, and with success we've got to remember how to give back and create benefits for all, to strengthen overall society.

It's All in a Name

So what should you name yourself at work? Ambiguously, seems to be the advice of a woman called Josephine who calls herself Finn at work. Once she changed her alias at work she started to receive a different type of email that contained different insights into how the business worked, and gain insight into the back channel where the real insights get discussed on the future of the company or who's who. This is one of the insights from an article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

Now one problem with this strategy is with the advent of social technologies that reveal more about us. I love the feature we have at work that allows me to view the photos of people on an email thread or invited to a meeting. At a quick glance I can see who is who, or use to recall who said what in a meeting. Some people love the tool to disambiguate names so they know the gender of whom they're engaging with - why do they do that? sometimes curiosity, and sometimes to refer to that person as he or she in mail. It's complicated.

The question is long term will social technologies aid the gender gap or keep repositioning the gap. I like using facebook and linkedin as it formalizes relationships as people grow their lists of friends, but to me now I have a set of people to reach out to who invited me to their networks. I've been invited by all types of people whom I wouldn't have thought would have considered me a friend.

So while the focus group research offers the advantages of a gender neutral name, it's going to be harder to leverage that strategy in the future.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Carolyn Kepcher Finds What Matters

Another new site launching to support careers and aspirations of women can be found at . It's currently getting ready to launch. The celebrity behind the site is Carolyn Kepcher, who came to fame in the early series of The Apprentice, as Donald Trump's right-hand woman. Yes, I confess I was a fan of the early series when the problems and strategies were a novelty, and I believed there were some people with potential in the group rather than potential to make entertaining tv.

I always hoped there was substance behind Carolyn, and I've just listened to a webinar on Carve Your Own Road (a website for awakening and fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in everyone ) and after listening, I believe Carolyn is substantial. She talks like someone who figured out how to forge a successful career in the Trump organization, has good advice to questions asked, and is realistic. I will be checking in on FWM (finding what matters) to see where it heads.

A moment of inspiration to stay the course and work another day can come from anywhere. I have to say that while it wasn't exactly a quick moment at a 20 minutes webinar, it was most definitely a solid contributing moment to listen to a woman who has figured things out, made a few mistakes, and is trying to balance it all. Now if only my personal life allowed me these quick moments before 11:30pm, life would be be even better.

Not a Good Year for Gender Equity

I'm so frustrated when I hear about news like this. A woman finally comes forward to point out pay discrimination over a long period of time at Goodyear. She tries to settle out of court for a reasonable amount ($60K) and is unsuccessful. She then tries in court and is awarded a much larger amount ($223K), and punitive damages ($3M) which are crazy in terms of being given to her. Finally in appeal it's overturned and she's smacked with a bill for $3,165 in costs.

Fear of class action suits, fear of escalating costs, because big companies can - there seems something distorted with various stages leading to this outcome. Rather than address what should be done to a. Make a point that it's not acceptable to discriminate and to b. Compensate individuals appropriately when harm is found but not award them a lottery like figure

I'd like to think if there were a better balance of women representatives in bodies that make policies and laws that some of these crazy rules would be more sane, not only to benefit gender based cases like these but in many other such similar cases.

In the meantime I shall not be supporting Goodyear.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yahoo! Award Women with Dollars to Start Businesses

Another step in the direction of increasing the number of women being given encouragement and cash to follow their dreams, and mine too in that it will lead to more great quick moments. Yahoo! received over 5,000 applications for their entrepreneurial competition to win a $20K cash grant, and $5K web site start. They announced the winners a few days ago. Many of the ideas submitted focused on "creative solutions to real life issues and interests such as the environment, needs of children with disabilities, and lifestyle pursuits such as home decorating". They now how 6 months to pursue their business and a chance to win an additional $10K grant. Their progress can be viewed at this site: It also includes notes from their mentors as well. I so wish I had more time in my life to keep up - I need to be able to read by running my finger over text when my eyes are shut (anyone patented that technology yet?)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sites for Women over 40 - My point exactly!

See, see, the momentum is building and women are doing it for themselves! A new website for women over 40 because the founders (including the famous: Whoopi Goldberg, Peggy Noonan, Lily Tomlin and Candace Bergen, and the financial backers: ) didn't think the web was designed for people like them. The site is called WoWoW .

I have visited the site a couple of times and as yet haven't been wooed into WoWoW. The site is pretty sparse of real content as it appears to be dependent upon questions being posted by the site and is then riding on comments from viewers, and an editorial style comment on the comments. Also the design of the site seems to be lacking (see attached graphic)- it seems a mash of styles with whitespace and times-roman font - however that could be me having a browser problem. Must make a note to check it out in a different browser.

I think the founders are correctly identifying a niche that needs a substantial filling but I'm not convinced that this site is the site that's going to do it. The backers have put in $1M, and they have some ad-support from Citi and Tiffany, but not sure that will do it, according to a blog post.

Take a look at WoWoW and tell me what you think of the site? Future hit site or flop?

Finally a Quick Moment!

While going through my news alerts looking for interesting topics on women and technology I can across a posting that was talking about women's sites, although I work at a technology company I'm always behind when it comes to what's getting hot. Have you seen Cafemom? It's apparently a very hot site and has an extremely large following. It's recently been able to secure $12M in funding - now that's a decent fund.
I have just taken a peak, and while the front page of the site didn't seem overly unique or engaging I clicked around a little and then found the Thought Bubble (bottom part on this page link). It was mesmerising to watch the twitter like comments come across the Americas - comments that I might make - about family, kids, home, sleeping, being me. It really was spellbinding for a few minutes reading the comments and seeing the photos - now it is bedtime and so there were a lot of 'getting them off to sleep' comments, it kind of had a digital Walton like feel to it, 'Good night Jim-bob'.

A Girlie Gadget that's not Pink

I have been surprised how little I have found in the gadget department for women since I started this blog at the beginning of the year. My original intent of the blog was to highlight technologies that brought pleasurable experiences that didn't require overhead of learning or figuring out what/how to get the experience. Well, today I found on a blog post that highlights a girl gadget that's simple and useful - it's a compact mirror that has a built in usb and a card reader inside. I think it's a pretty neat combination of features. The writer is pleased to find it doesn't come in pink, me too.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Angels Watching Out for Women

I read a nice blog article posted on the Seattle PI website today by Alyssa Royse. It was looking at the situation of how much funding goes to women-owned start ups. According to numbers from Venture Wire, women owned businesses account for only 4.3% of venture backed companies. This is down from 7.5% in 2002. Whoa, those are small numbers - I didn't realize just how small they were.
The article goes on to identify some venture capital firms in the Seattle areas that are particularly strong players in supporting women owned businesses - often these are women investors. The author asks whether the issue comes from women not starting up businesses or whether they are not getting funded. A postive data point highlighted was the number of female investors is up 23% since 2005. So let's hope this will lead to a positive cycle in business.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Finding Women Who Tech

I love hearing about events like this: Women Who Tech: A tele-summit for women in technology, and just wish I was more available to participate. Simply reading the titles of the panels is inspiring: Firing Up Your Online List, Everything you wanted to know about tech but were afraid to ask (a man), Building An Online campaign and Change the world, Breaking through the digital ceiling are just a few. Podcasts will be available shortly. Women Who Tech has a goal of getting more women into the main stream view as women are not quoted in mainstream media and blogs. They hope to build up a list of women who can be on panels, and talk tech and make this list available to the media.

Good luck to them in achieving their mission.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

SheZoom! it's kinda YouTube for Women

A new beta site opened up this week called SheZoom! It's a managed , video site that is aiming at the female audience - it's goal is motivate women to better themselves and others. It is currently pre-populated with a lot of video content, with it's final goal to have both produced content and user content. There are sound bites of video street commentary - the video I saw on gadgets was a random set of people identifying their favorite gadget. 'What makes a woman sexy?' also was a random set of people from the streets providing short comment with their opinions - nothing outrageous, it was pretty tame stuff - mostly comments of the 'confidence', 'eyes', type.

I also saw an article on nutrition which was an expert asking questions and quizzing the viewer on what they knew about nutrition in food.

Now this site is still in it's beta phase and quality of content is going to be critical to the site. The question is whether women are going to step up to provide content to this female community. So far the research suggests women are more consumers of video content than creators of YouTube types of video, however may be there are some budding broadcasters out there who are looking for the right supportive venue to get started in saying something. It will be interesting to see if the site can gain critical mass of followers and content creators to be successful.

SheZoom's founder is Stacey Artandi. I will return to the site in a month to see how it's doing.

Yahoo Shine on Women

Following the data that says women have the majority spending power and spend more time online, Yahoo has tried to capture this in a business strategy that aims to increase advertiser revenue but targeting women. Two days ago Yahoo published a new website called 'Shine'.
Reviewers of the site are skeptical of the strategy as it is a portal that carries breadth over depth and reviewers think women have moved more in a depth way with access to RSS readers for blog feeds, and customization of portal sites already.
At first peek I'm not sure what to make of it, may be the image of underwear (or as a brit, I can say, Knickers) flying in the breeze on a clothes line isn't the opening conversation I would expect. The layout of the page is clean in that 'Simple' magazine style.
Bottom line for me is applauding Yahoo for trying to join the dots between women and business success, and raising awareness that whoever gets the strategy and execution right will be on a path to success.