Tech Superwomen share a frame for mentorship at SXSW – five takeaways


The Tech Superwomen SXSW Panel and 12 year-old blogger Isabetta Bleu Herrera Grant. Isa was brought to the SXSW session by her dad. Photo credit:  Ludvik Herrera Photography.

Five tech superwomen banded together this past March at the SXSW Interactive festival to make the case for mentorship and the critical role we all play in increasing the number of women in the tech industry.

Here are five of the critical frames and takeaways the panel shared.

You can also listen to the audio recording of the panel that’s posted on the sxsw website. 

Do we need more women in Tech? 

Nilofer Merchant made the case right at the start of the discussion with a look at the stats that document the four places women are underrepresented.

Speaking: women represent less than 20% of the stages which means of course people don’t see role models. Boards: women represent less than 10% corporate board seats which means were not getting an appropriate set of governance and therefore profit results. Entrepreneurship: only 3% of venture backed monies go towards women enturopenship which means we are underfunding things that can fix our economy. CEOs: women represent lesson 20% of CEO seats and global 1000 companies.”

What’s a mentor? 

Leslie Bradshaw provided a great frame for looking at mentors by going back to the roots – the latin roots – of the words.

“the origin of mentor the root word is mens which means mind. When we think about sponsor the the root word is spons which means pledge. For advisor the root word is life, towards life. So when we think about frameworks, we want to think ‘is this about cultivation of mind or about lifting up and sponsoring into that next level?’ At different stages in your life you will need different things and you can also provide different things depending on where you where you are.”

 Why should I mentor?

Margot Bloomstein pointed out the benefit to the bottom line of your business and industry – mentoring makes sure you have a competent talent pool from which to select down the line.

How do I find a mentor?

My advice? Ask and ask again. Take bold risks and never say no to yourself. Even if the ideal mentor lives far away, use social technology platforms to build and maintain relationships with mentors and advocates.

What holds us back?

Ekatrina Walter reminded us all of the role fear can play, challenging everyone to “fail their way to amazing” and to keep a generous sprit, because that is what ultimately fuels the relationships that open doors and create possibilities.

Thanks to everyone who attended (our 500 capacity room was packed!) and contributed questions and insight.

Did you attend? What was your favorite takeaway?

Also, special thanks to Meshin for sponsoring the Tee giveaways, check out the pinterest board for great shots of these limited edition Tech By Superwomen tees, featuring  artwork by Maria Toofly Castillo.

Write-ups and Press:

SXSW 2012 Forecast: Let’s Hear It For The Girls – Forbes

The Role of Mentorship for Women in Technology – Huffington Post

Best Black Panels at SXSW Interactive 2012 – The Root

13 Things Superwomen Need to Know About Mentorship – Black Enterprise 

SXSW Panel: Tech Superwomen: Mentors and Mentees, FTW – Austin 360

Additional Posts:

Tech Superwomen Connects with Soledad O’Brien at SXS – CNN iReport

Tech Superwomen: Mentors and Mentees – Campaign Consultation

Tech Superwomen – Isa Bleu

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