Since serveral technology and social media conferences suffer from the lack of female speakers, organizers, and participants, it has become common to put together an obligatory panel on the ”female perspective in technology”.
When I first heard there is a whole conference on the subject, the DLD women by Hubert Burda Media, I was a bit sceptical. How could it work?
I signed in the last minute, and I’m extremely glad that I did, because DLD women was a superb gathering both in terms of content, spirit and networking opportunities. Here are my notes:
Doris Dörrie: Turn of the control button and relax
The first presentation I saw was by a German film director Doris Dörrie, who lit the whole room with her positive and relaxed carisma and reminded us that women’s continuous tendency to manage and control everything leaves too little time for creativity. ”The most difficult thing is to have the body and the mind in the same place. Typically the body is in one place, but the mind is (managing) somewhere else. You really need to excersise to keep them in one place. I’ve tried zen cooking.”
Paulo Coelho: don’t use drugs to be creative
Few moments later the man in black, Paulo Coelho, stepped on stage and told about his creative process: ”I live my life and one day I feel I’m pregnanat and I need to give birth to something. Then I go and write a book.” He also recommended not to use drugs to enhance creativity: ” Drugs kills the most important thing in you: the power of decision.”
Sonali de Rycker: show your desire to win
The lack of female managers or web entrepreneurs is alarming. Sara Öhrvall, the head of R&D at Bonnier reminded that in Europe and Northern America the number of female computer engineers has dropped from 37 to 18 percent during the past two years and that at MacWorld conferences you only see women in Apple’s commercials, where a tech-savy future mom uses an iPhone to send an ultra sound image to the dad who cannot attend the ultrasound.
Still, what is at least equally alarming is the lack of female investors and venture capitalists. With more women investors, more female-led startups would get funded. Sonali De Ryckel gave advice for women who are to pitch their start-ups: don’t hide your feminity, but show your desire to win.
Andrew Robertson: For men the web is about fantasy, for women about reality
Andrew Robertson from BBDO loaded some statistics: ”for men, the Internet is about scoring (84% of all virtual players are men), for women, it is about relationships. As much as 69 % of young mothers frequent on one or more social media sites. Both men and women on average have 130 Facebook friends. For men the web is about fantasy whereas for women, it is about the reality. 40% of men feel more attractive online than offline.”
What all women really want? Kate Sayre knows: ”No one wants to waste time”. (And every woman in the room nodded in accordance). Everyone is trying to do the household related duties faster, and earn more time for ourselves. According to Kate Sayre the Internet serves women perfectly, since it helps save time and explore the world around us without having to leave home.
Women are adapting interenet at a fast speed, and there is already 8% more female internet users in the world. Women dominate the use (but not the development) of social web. More men than women use smart phones.
There was one point when I felt quite uneasy, and that was when shopping mass fashion was framed as a wonderful way for women to be online and to express their female aesthetic creativity. I think I was not the only one in the room thinking that there should be a better use for that creative energy. I regretted missing the ”Women with mission” panel in the end of the second day.
One female super star on stage to entertain us was the queen Zaha Hadid, and his husband and colleague Patric who carried her handbag and gave us beautiful descriptions of their marvellous work.
Female managers are few, startup entrepreneurs even fewer
During one of the breaks I met with Imi Eiron from Saloona online magazine, with whom we had a good chat about the conference. In general, we thought it is useful to distinguish between women who work for others (managers) and women who work for themselves (startup founders, entrepreneurs). In many European counties, at least, being a female startup entrepreneur with small children is almost mission impossible. This is because:
- New ideas typically emerge and develop ourside your daily job, in the evenings and weekends. If you have kids, you don’t have this extra time.
- Few men are willing to take the main responsibility of the household and the kids during the first intensive years of the startup.
- Few woman are willing to give the responsibility of the kids and the household for anybody else.
- Few have an alternative support structure such as grand parents
- Few can afford to to hire a household person or a nanny before their funding is resolved
- Few can afford being without pay for 2-3 years
As a woman with kids your best chances to become an entrepreneur is when
- your kids are old enough to go to daycare or school
- you are wealthy enough to hire help with household and childcare
- you have good connections with important people in your field
- your husband does not mess around with other woman, drugs, or anything that disturbes your ability to focus