In one of the most tweeted moments of OEN’s 2014 Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner, Paola Moretto, co-founder and CEO of Nouvola, compared being a female tech entrepreneur to being a unicorn… with sparkles.
That’s to say that female tech entrepreneurs are few and far between. Paola Moretto elaborates on her experience as a woman in the tech industry, particularly as a founder and CEO, in a podcast interview with PAGATIM. You can listen to the full podcast below.
What struggles have you faced in the field and what would you say to a young woman who has fallen in love with tech and wants to have that for a career?
Oh boy. So I’ve been in tech for 23 years. Whether you are the founder of a startup, or an engineer, or a senior manager at a large corporation, the presence of women in tech is still highly limited. You’re always part of that 10 percent. After a while, you’re so used to it that you forget that women are actually 50 percent of the population. Because you’re surrounded by men all the time.
I’ve actually started a group in Portland that connects women founders of startups and businesses, because once you go from being an employee to being a founder, you encounter even more challenges. It’s hard for everybody to start a company but for a woman, there is an extra layer. I believe that networking is absolutely critical and that’s why there is this power networking group, it’s called the PDX Women Founder’s Forum. We run a number of events a year and I have more than 200 people who are members in Oregon.
Do you think it will change? Do you think it will be closer to 50 percent in the next 50 years?
So I think we all have to realize that this is an issue. Yes, things have changed from 40 years ago dramatically—there is a lot of legislation that supports women in the workplace. But we have not seen a lot of the biases that still exist change. It’s a lot more subtle than it was, but essentially the playing field is not level.
If you look at Fortune 500 female CEOs, it’s 4 percent, if you look at female venture capitalist partners, it’s also 4 percent. If you look at female senior managers in large corporations, it’s around 10 percent. Those numbers haven’t o changed in the last 20 years. This means that we all have to re-open the conversation and understand what needs to be put in place so that there is broader opportunity for women in tech. If we don’t do anything, nothing is going to change. And in 20 years we’re going to look back and say, we’re still at 4 percent.
Listen to the full podcast here: