Risky Business

The number of women who are starting IT companies, taking out patents in the IT field, or transferring ideas for development is very small. Exact numbers are not easy to come by, but there is a belief that perhaps fewer than 10 percent of IT entrepreneurs are women. What are the causes of this low representation of women and what can be done about it?
NCWIT, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is taking two steps to address this issue. A broad-sweeping review of the social science literature on women, IT, and entrepreneurship is underway to try to identify some of the underlying causes of this entrepreneurial under-representation and to identify promising practices to improve the situation. Not content to rely solely on this academic approach, NCWIT and the Kauffman Foundation is convening a workshop in Silicon Valley on May 4 to learn from the practical experience of the IT and entrepreneurship communities.
The workshop is bringing together leading angel investors, venture capitalists, bankers, leaders from mentoring and support organizations that know how to accomplish successful entrepreneurial ventures, networking organizations, entrepreneurship educators, successful entrepreneurs, and academics who have studied high-tech entrepreneurship. The group will have a wide-ranging discussion of the issues concerning access to capital, how to start and grow a company, the importance of mentoring and business networks, and other factors that might explain the small number of women IT entrepreneurs. They will also provide guidance to NCWIT and the Kauffman Foundation about what steps to take in forming an entrepreneurial alliance to address this under-representation.

Dr. William Aspray is a professor of computer science, history and philosophy of science at the University of Indiana. His research focuses on the historical, political, and socioeconomic aspects of information technology. An esteemed NCWIT partner, Dr. Aspray is widely published on both historical and contemporary issues facing the computing research community.

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