Blog Posts by Telle Whitney and Guests Tech Her
Working with the US Government on Technology AND Women
Last week I participated in a round table discussion with the new US CTO Todd Park. As part of his work as CTO, he launched a new program called the Innovation Fellows. This program has strong potential, but as commentators notice, there were not many women. Only 2 of the 18 fellows were women. To his credit, Todd Park wants to know how to change this in the future, and he asked a group of very senior women – from non-profits, industry and academia – to advise him and his staff. Whenever you launch a program, you have to first understand how well it works the first time, but I was impressed that Todd took the issue seriously and asked all of the right questions.
What did I say to him about bringing more women? I believe that with the right focus, it is possible to attract entrepreneurial women to apply for these fellows, but you want to make sure they know you want them. I provided him with a copy of our research report on how to recruit women and a preview of our upcoming report on how to retain women. All too often, when women look up and see that all of the people involved in a program are men, it is difficult for them to see where they fit in. This is particularly true if you are a woman of color. But the government has a wide array of very effective leaders from diverse backgrounds, and a program like this has the potential to attract a much more diverse set of participants.
I applaud his efforts and look forward to learning more.