Women Who Run Tech Startups Are Catching Up

By Karen E. Klein on February 20, 2013

 

Women-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieve 35 percent higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bring in 12 percent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. That’s according to new research presented at a recent conference in San Francisco organized by Women 2.0, a media company devoted to women founders in the tech industry. It indicates female entrepreneurs, who have traditionally lagged behind their male counterparts, are catching up, at least by some measures.

Led by Vivek Wadhwa, who holds titles at Stanford and Duke universities, and Lesa Mitchell, a vice president at the Kauffman Foundation, the report “Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World” draws on responses to an online survey from 500 women in the tech sector (inside and outside the U.S.) and is scheduled to be published this spring.

It shows that the average age of women entrepreneurs founding tech companies has dropped, from 41 to 32, since an earlier, smaller study was done in 2009, and the percentage who have had graduate-level education has risen, from 40 percent to 56 percent. The findings about women’s contributions to success bolster previous research from several sources, including a Credit Suisse Research Institute (CS) report and Dow Jones VentureSource (NWS) analysis.

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Tracking the reasons many girls avoid science and math

<p>Tracking the reasons many girls avoid science and math</p>

UWM researcher's work aimed at halting the exodus of women in STEM careers

<p>Tracking the reasons many girls avoid science and math</p>

Most parents and many teachers believe that if middle-school and high-school girls show no interest in science or math, there's little anyone can do about it.

New research by a team that includes vocational psychologists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) indicates that the self-confidence instilled by parents and teachers is more important for young girls learning math and science than their initial interest.

While interest is certainly a factor in getting older girls to study and pursue a career in these disciplines, more attention should be given to building confidence in their abilities early in their education, says UWM Distinguished Professor Nadya Fouad. She is one of the authors of a three-year study aimed at identifying supports and barriers that steer girls toward or away from science and math during their education.

"The relationship between confidence and interest is close," says Fouad. "If they feel they can do it, it feeds their interest."

It's a high-priority question for members of organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Research Council as they ponder how to reverse the rapidly declining numbers of women in STEM careers – science, technology, engineering and math.

Many young students, particularly girls, see math and science as difficult, and don't take any more classes than they have to, not realizing they are cutting themselves off from lucrative opportunities in college and careers.

The NSF-funded study – the most highly detailed study on this topic – dug deeply to identify the specific factors that would stoke interest.

"For the last 20 years, there has been all this work done on boosting interest of girls early on. But I don't think that's it," says Fouad, whose research has found evidence that confidence levels in math- and science-related tasks are lower for girls than for boys.

 

Complexity

The study tracked girls and boys in middle school, high school and their sophomore year in college in both Milwaukee and Phoenix, with the main goal of pinpointing when the barriers for girls appear and how influential they are. Co-authors include Phil Smith, UWM emeritus professor of educational psychology, and Gail Hackett, Provost at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

Self-efficacy is not the only important factor for girls, the study uncovered. Results point to a complicated issue, says Fouad. For one thing, math and science cannot be lumped together when designing interventions because the barriers and supports for each discipline are not the same.

"There were also differences at each developmental level and differences between the genders," she says. That means interventions would need to be tailored for each specific subgroup.

Overall, however, parent support and expectations emerged as the top support in both subjects and genders for middle- and high-school students. Also powerful for younger girls were engaging teachers and positive experiences with them.

The study confirmed that old stereotypes die slowly. Both boys and girls perceived that teachers thought boys were stronger at math and science. For boys this represented a support, while for girls it acted as a barrier.

Top barriers for all age groups and disciplines were test anxiety and subject difficulty. But these differed between boys and girls. In addition, the genders formed their perceptions of math or science based on the barriers and supports, but they often arrived at different views.

Ultimately, it's perception, more than reality, that affects the person's academic and career choices, says Fouad.

 

Scholarly clout

That's the take-away message from her more than two decades of work. A fourth-generation college professor, Fouad studies cross-cultural vocational assessment, career development of women and minorities, and factors motivating people to choose certain careers.

She and Smith were among the first teams of researchers to empirically support a model that identified the prominent role that self-confidence and outcome expectations play in predicting career interests.

The next step in the NSF study on girls, and math and science is to examine the relationship between barriers and supports, and then to widen the view to include women who are not working in those fields despite having an educational background in math or science. Fouad received funding from UWM on this project and has just received a half-million-dollar grant to focus on women in engineering.

Nationally, 20 percent of graduates with degrees in engineering are women, she says, but only 11 percent of engineers are women. Her inquiry will explore the reason for the gap.

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National Academies Encourages More Interdisciplinary Research

New Report Offers Recommendations to Spur Interdisciplinary Research

WASHINGTON -- Advances in science and engineering increasingly require the collaboration of scholars from various fields. This shift is driven by the urgent need to address complex problems that cut across traditional disciplines, and the capacity of new technologies to both transform existing disciplines and generate new ones. At the same time, however, interdisciplinary research is impeded at many institutions by policies on hiring, promotion, tenure, and resource allocation that favor traditional disciplines, says a new report from the National Academies.

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GE sued for fraud

Inventor Sues GE for Fraud

The inventor of a unique medical laser for drilling teeth and cutting bone filed suit against GE in Florida Federal Court this week for breach of contract and fraud.

(PRWEB) November 5, 2004 -- Florida inventor, Kevin Dickenson, filed a lawsuit this week in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against General Electric Company and one of its divisions for fraud and breach of contract. Dickenson is the inventor of a revolutionary new medical and dental laser. His company, PanaRay Inc., was part of a $220M acquisition when GE acquired Panametrics, Inc. on July 23, 2002.

The lawsuit alleges that GE and its division agreed to fund the development, manufacturing and marketing of Dickenson's medical laser but, instead, GE systematically dismantled PanaRay, fired Dickenson, and took his invention for GE's sole benefit.

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The Return of Unified Science?

Caltech seeking to blend sciences

By Kimm Groshong , Staff Writer

PASADENA -- If all goes as planned during the coming decade, a new $100 million initiative at Caltech will transform the institute and alter the way students and researchers approach today's most intriguing scientific problems.
The initiative, dubbed Information Science and Technology, which Caltech will formally launch Thursday, holds the promise of keeping the institute at the forefront in fields important to the Information Age from biotechnology to advanced networking.

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Legislative expenses drive up price of government.

Legislative expenses drive up price of government
Beyond salary and outside close oversight, costs reach $2.7 million
By STACY FORSTER
sforster@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Oct. 16, 2004
When voters head to the polls in two weeks, they're probably not thinking about how many road trips their favorite candidate might make in the coming years.

In the last legislative session, taxpayers spent more than $2.7 million to cover the on-the-job expenses of state lawmakers. The money is in addition to their regular salary, some of it is tax free, and much of it is handed out on the honor system, something almost incomprehensible in the private sector.

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