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Video interview with Laura Slezinger, Managing Director, San Francisco & Director of Corporate Development Girls in Tech. Laura received her J.D. from the University of San Diego, School of Law where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Motions, the law school newspaper, where she began highlighting a lot of tech-related Intellectual Property and Antitrust cases. She was the Fundraising Chair for the Women’s Law Caucus and hosted a charity auction to benefit a local women’s domestic violence shelter. She earned certificates in areas of international law in Florence, Barcelona, and Paris. During and following law school Laura worked in-house, setting up the Intellectual Property protection program for an environmental compliance company based in Carlsbad, California. Laura received her LL.M. from the University of San Francisco, School of Law where she was a staff editor on the Intellectual Property Law Bulletin and comment author. She worked on the Intellectual Property and Internet Justice Clinic where she advocated for students being sued by the RIAA for alleged illegal downloading of music. Currently Laura is an Intellectual Property & Startup Law attorney.
Transcript follows & video below.
I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about Girls in Tech & why you formed the organization & what it’s all about?
Sure, Girls in Tech started when our founder Adriana Gasgoine was working in a technology startup. She was the only woman among 50 people in the company & so she recognized that there was a problem there ‘there’s gotta be more of me out there?’ She started these programs which now have grown worldwide into an international organization. There’s thousands of chapters, 17,000 members worldwide. Just a few years ago we were trying to grab our friends to bring to our program.
That is really good news! So that obviously indicates that more women are becoming involved in tech.
Yes it’s definitely on women’s radar & maybe public consciousness as well. I don’t know how it’s covered in other countries. But certainly in our media, in mainstream media a lot more in recent years. So I think now men & corporate companies are more aware we need to be aware of how many women are on our staff, particularly in areas like tech which don’t usually have as many.
In your experience what do you think are the major problems for women who decide to take a career in tech?
Well it’s certainly a challenge any time you’re kind of the person on the outside, whatever that may mean, in a minority situation. Certainly women talk about the culture they have to deal with is a very ‘guy centric culture’. Even if it’s not in a nefarious way, men aren’t being outwardly negative towards them. You’re adjusting to a cultural situation.
So basically it’s to do with unconscious bias, I guess, when you’re outnumbered like that, I would imagine?
Are there any programs that Girls in Tech run or thinking to run to help get more women & girls involved?
Sure, one of the things we’re hoping to launch in 2012 is a Labs program to offer a more intensive system for women to learn the tools that men learn to be entrepreneurs, to be involved in technology & aimed at empowering women. So it will be more of an ongoing program that people can be admitted to instead of just a one night program (3 hours & you’re done)!
I would imagine too that this group would be fabulous in the sense of the social function that it provides? Because I’ve heard that one of the reasons that men get ahead as entrepreneurs & tech is because they hang out together socially. So really you’re providing a wonderful opportunity for young women or any age women to get together socially & talk about some of the issues they may face & to support each other, I would imagine?
That’s really crucial because they’ve found when men talk about having a mentor, that mentor is the guy that’s introducing them to the Board of Directors, introducing them to guy that will hire them, introducing them to the person who does membership at the Country Club. And when women say mentor they’re speaking of somebody who’s really inspiring that they may never have met. So getting out there networking with other women can really help them is really important for women to get ahead.
Fabulous, well I think you’re doing wonderful work & must be very fulfilling & reassuring to see the numbers increasing as they have?
I wish you all the best. Thank you so much.
Thank you very much!
Girls in Tech & Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers collaborated to produce the event “Net Effect: The Impact of Women on the Web – Start-up Edition” Aileen Lee, Partner KPCB was the moderator & the panel consisted of Jenn Hyman, RenttheRunway; Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, CEO Adsymptotic; Meghan Gardner, CEO Plum District & Yulie Kim, VP Product One Kings Lane. Check out this video of the beginning of the panel.