There’s an interesting story over on the financial side of cnn.com, featuring startup companies that are aiming to use technology in order to “level the playing field” for women and minorities. Writer Sara Ashley O’Brien details nine innovative businesses that are striving for this kind of progress. Let’s take a look at a few of these smart young startups.
This networking site makes its mission clear: “empower women to break the glass ceiling, together.” That basically means a way to connect professional women for possible mentorship and support.
The site, founded by Lauren Mosenthal and Eileen Carey, uses what CNN calls a “dating-app style algorithm” to designate women who have similar career interests. And the Glassbreakers site describes the safety of the community-style environment, calling it “a gender-gated space to discuss and celebrate our stories.”
In a recent Newsweek story, Carey emphasized the importance of mentoring, and how the basic concept often has an inherent disconnect.
“Traditional mentorship, established in male-dominated industry, is between very senior and very junior people,” she said. “But the problem for women in the workforce is that there are many more mentees than mentors. Also, the tech industry is changing so fast that women even five or 10 years older may have very little of practical use to share with younger workers.”
Joelle Emerson, a Stanford Law School grad who once served as a women’s rights lawyer, started this consulting effort to help technology companies incorporate more women and minorities.
The Paradigm site states: “We believe that with the benefit of diverse perspectives, world-changing companies will build more creative products, provide more innovative services, and design a future that’s better for everyone.”
Emerson is working with businesses of various sizes, including Pinterest, according to CNN. Topics range from the rate of women being promoted to the kinds of questions recruiters use during interviews.
“We’re making flawed decisions,” Emerson says. “But [we] can build out tools to prevent that from happening.’”
Power to Fly
Co-founders Katharine Zaleski and Milena Berry set out to develop an online community for women to find remote jobs in technology. That became Power to Fly, which quickly expanded to include design, bookkeeping and journalism, according to the CNN story.
“We live in a day and age where we can all communicate remotely,” Zaleski said.
The Power to Fly website lists some of the advantages of efforts beyond the office. Among these: the flexibility to work from anywhere (“As long as your Internet connection is strong enough for video chats …”), gaining the freedom to succeed without constant supervision, and having a choice on the amount of hours to spend working each week.
The group has helped place women with companies including BuzzFeed and Hearst, according to CNN, and in technology roles in 62 countries.
This company uses crowdsourcing to collect company policies through anonymous feedback. As O’Brien writes, “How can candidates really know how accommodating a company is toward its female employees? Turn to the women (or men) who already work there for intel.”
The InHerSight website says it’s on a mission “to measure how well employers support the women who work for them — and to turn those insights into better support for women in the workplace. … We want to make it possible for more women to succeed in the workplace, whether that’s climbing the corporate ladder, finding family growth support, or developing skills.”
Founder Ursula Mead tells CNN that the site aims for “constructive” data: “The people who know what needs to be done are the women working for those companies.”