Monday, December 5, 2011

The Next Steve Jobs...A Chick!

I recently read an article entitled, "The Next Steve Jobs Will Be A Chick!"

It really hit home for me! The article was based on a conversation with comedian Louis C.K. who has two daughters and his tribute to our feminine future. It was funny and touching at the same time. Given all the research out there on women in business and technology (Women in Biz, Tech, Startups and Investing Blog), his prediction is likely not far off either!

Being a woman in business, in technology and in a start up, seeking capital for my for-profit company, OneGiving, to create sustainability and social responsibility for corporations and sustainable revenues for nonprofits, I believe as women in business, we are poised to lead the next generation of business leaders. I am not the only one...

The Dalai Lama predicted that the Western Women will Save the World (Women as a Force for Good Blog). An Illuminate Ventures Report by Founder Cindy Padnos wrote, "Women entrepreneurs are poised to lead the next wave of growth in global business." And Jensine Larsen in an article in World Pulse Magazine posited, "Women manage money differently [than men], and had there been more women at the helm of investment decisions all along, the worst of the global financial meltdown might have been averted."

Given that, I thought I'd highlight a few of the articles from 2011 that I have read re: women in business, technology and beyond that may shed perspective on Louis C.K.'s prediction that the next Steve Jobs will be a Chick!

Let's start with Forbes Top 100 Women, which gives a list of some of the most powerful women in business and politics, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates, Indian President Sonia Gandhi, and First Lady Michelle Obama, demonstrating women's reach and leadership in top roles around the globe.

The article Why Women Make Excellent Entrepreneurs in the Digital Age, highlights some of the latest data on women in the workforce and entrepreneurs, including the fact that in 2010, women became the majority of the U.S. workforce for the first time in the country's history and highlighting that now 57% of college students are women. Further, women are advancing in entrepreneurship with an increase in the number of women-owned firms from 1997-2011 by 50% as compared with a 25% increase in male-owned firms, which has allowed businesses owned by females to reach 49% of U.S. firms.

An article on What Men Can Learn From Women About Leadership predicts that the most successful leaders of the future will make employees feel safe and valued, emphasize cohesiveness, openness, inclusiveness and respect, and foster true networked collaboration. Women are poised for this type of leadership (as highlighted in the New Yorker article about Sheryl Sandberg) with the ability to identify nonverbal cues, listen, make eye contact and build trust and collaboration.

With all of the pros and evidence that women's place in business and in leadership, there are still many factors limiting women's rise through the ranks. A recent Wall Street Journal Article asked, "Where the Ladies At?" in the VC world and wrote that despite the lack of representation of women in the Venture Capital space, there are three VC firms seeking to help female entrepreneurs, including: Illuminate Ventures, Women's Venture Capital Fund, and Valencia Ventures. Additionally, Golden Seeds is a network of angel investors funding early stage companies founded and/or led by women and Astia is community of experts committed to building women leaders and accelerating funding and growth to women-led startups.

Even with those examples, we still have a long way to go. Women's Startups still Lack Access to Capital as women are learning the good ol' boy's game and still are learning "to ask." Further, some of the Worst Stereotypes about Powerful Women don't help women who are perceived as powerful get ahead. And, women have been known to Stunt Their Own Careers, including by being overly modest, not asking, by blending in and by remaining silent.

Whatever the case may be, the question remains, do women need to become more like men or can they authentically be themselves AND get ahead at the same time? My money is betting on that the more WE women stick to our guns and show that we can BE ourselves, share our creativity, vision and leadership potential, and rock the business world, we will show that the next Steve Jobs won't just be a Chick, but a WOMAN!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

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