Monday, November 29, 2010

Why Now is a Great Time for Women in Tecnology and Business

The evidence that women improve business performance and decision-making continues to pile up. A Kennedy school conference in October presented the business case for closing the gender gap. A recent MIT study shows that small groups demonstrate distinctive ‘collective intelligence’ when facing difficult tasks and that the tendency to cooperate effectively, unsurprisingly, is linked to the number of women in a group.

But "more women = better decisions and performance" is an abstraction and won't deliver daily mojo for women to take on new and challenging roles.

Recently, I've been excited by some business ideas that I've heard from women that flow directly from their unique insights as women. One is a web service that allows individuals to poll their friends on questions, and perhaps quite personal matters, such as, "Should I get reconstructive surgery?". Another friend is providing a solution for family-oriented bank accounts, as an expansion of convenience from individual or spousal accounts.

These ideas made me think about the wide world of products and services that have not yet been dreamed up because women aren't around to have their unique "a-ha" moments. Women average 10% of executive teams across sectors and 6% of venture-capital backed companies. And yet women are spendy. They control 85% of purchases in the US. In this gap is money and opportunity.

Times are a-changing. As venture capitalist Fred Wilson notes on his blog, AVC, the future of innovation in technology will be driven by creativity, and less by the small percentage of folks with Engineering and Computer Science degrees, areas which have been dominated by men.

Marketing to Women is coming of age though it is a surprisingly recent phenomena. The best book on this topic is the easy to remember title: "Marketing to Women" by Marti Barletta. Interestingly, I haven't been able to find any books or writing that speaks to creating/designing products or services for women. If the "naughts" were about marketing to women, creating products and services for women will be the key to market share in the next decade.