Hacking the System to Make More Women Coders at Etsy

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Growing up in biz/tech journalism and sports media means that the topic of women in the workplace has never been far from my mind. How many of us are there? How many is “enough" — is there such a thing? Are there really not enough qualified candidates? Is it true that women are just less interested in these fields (or less capable)? When we leave these coveted jobs, is it for the right reasons, or are we just being, you know, women … and confirming the reservations the world had about giving us the jobs in the first place? 

At SXSW this past weekend, the debate continued, with specific focus on the tech world, from the launch of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book/movement, “Lean In," to discussions led by Ann Marie Slaughter (of The Atlantic’s "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All" fame), to events hosted by Change The Ratio and The List

The confounding thing about these questions is that rather than ushering us closer to answers, the conversation frequently gets mired in debates over whether/why people are sexist and where the problem started in the first place, each side ever more entrenched in their own position. Exhausted by the back-and-forth, most end with some version of, “Well, it’s better than it used to be," or, “What are you going to do?"

My answer to that last question is take a look at what Etsy and Hacker School are doing. Putting aside philosophy and ideology for a moment, they’ve asked, “What are some specific, concrete, new steps we can take to change the composition of our workforce and workplace culture?" In reporting and writing this story for Fortune, I found the results fascinating and hope you will too — the applications for all of our industries are enormous.

Read the Fortune piece here:  Wanted: More Women Coders at Etsy

The final episode of this first run of #StartupStories went up last week. What I love about entrepreneurs, which really comes through in this episode ("The Life"), is the passion with which they attack everything they do. There’s no such thing as “balance" here, because that’s not the point. The point, for folks like these, is to change the world, one invention or idea or technology or product at a time. For them, work is life, life is work, and that’s not a bad thing, because they absolutely love what they do. It’s been a fun ride overseeing production of this series and getting to know these thinkers and doers and makers of the NYC tech scenes. Take a look …

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Episode 5 — our latest installment — of #StartupStories is live!

“The Life” is all about the joy, the struggles, the passion and the triumphs that come with the entrepreneurial roller coaster ride — all told through anecdotes, insights and wisdom earned from the down-and-dirty experiences of the people who are out there building businesses right now.

(Featuring folks from TechStars, Shelby.TV, Union Square Ventures, foursquare, Warby Parker, OKCupid, bitly, Proclivity, Of a Kind, SocialFlow, SideTour, betaworks and hackNY. Produced by HD MADE.)

"The Money," our fourth #StartupStories episode went live last night after NYTM played a nice preview clip at their June meetup. The unexpected insight I gained during the making of this episode was hearing from so many entrepreneurs that even if people offer you money, you might not want to take it. Or, put slightly differently, that getting the highest dollar investment might not be the best goal — sometimes the most valuable part of the VC-founder relationship is the advice and mentorship that an investor brings to the table. Food for thought for any relationship, really: Good people are hard to find, in business and in life, so their value is … invaluable. 

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Episode 4 of our #StartupStories series with members of the NYTM community debuted at last night’s meetup. In it, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists take you inside the fundraising process, answering key questions: Do you need to raise capital? If you do, how do you convince angel investors and VCs to give it to you? And if they offer you money, how much should you take? (You’d be surprised how many say that more is not always better … and that sometimes, money isn’t the best thing an investor brings to a partnership.) Insight comes from OKCupid, Of A Kind, Artsicle, Warby Parker, Union Square Ventures, TechStars, Birchbox and betawors. Produced by HD MADE. See the whole series here.

This is my favorite of our episodes so far. (And it turns out it was Fred Wilson’s favorite, too.) People are so afraid to fail — I know I am — but you learn so much from each experience that doesn’t go exactly as planned. Great insights and advice here from entrepreneurs and investors who understand the value of failure.

Episode 2 of #StartupStories! This one about the joys, challenges, and crucial decisions an entrepreneur (or anyone, really) faces in building the right team. 

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Episode 2 of #StartupStories takes us inside the building of a great team. Give it a watch for tips, insight and advice from Warby Parker, Food52, Proclivity Media, OKCupid, Birchbox, SideTour, Union Square Ventures, Tumblr, betaworks and bitly. Brought to you by the content partnership of NASDAQ OMX and NYTM. Produced by HD MADE. See the whole series here.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in — pitching is an art form, and the start of all great projects. As a journalist I pitch every single day: story subjects, to convince them to let me into their lives; editors, to convince them to publish a piece; business partners, to sell them on projects I think we should work on together.

And the folks in this video, to pitch them on the idea of sitting for these interviews, so that we could pick their brains for their best advice on … how to pitch.

Developing and producing the #StartupStories series as the content strategy consultant for HD Made and NASDAQ this past winter and spring was a huge project and as such, hugely rewarding. It was a joy to work with a team of content creators at HD Made as entrepreneurial as any of the folks we featured in the pieces themselves. I’ll post the other episodes as they’re released. 

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For anyone who enjoyed the Made in NY PSA we debuted in March, we think you’ll like the latest product of our content partnership with New York Tech Meetup

“The Pitch” is the first of our series of “Startup Stories” videos about how to build and grow a great entrepreneurial venture. In this episode, founders and investors from Birchbox, SideTour, Proclivity Media, Of A Kind, Artsicle, Warby Parker, OKCupid, Shelby.TV, TechStars and Union Square Ventures share their insights and advice about what it takes to craft a great pitch. Stay tuned for more episodes to come!

Brought to you by the content partnership of NASDAQ OMX and NYTM. Produced by HD Made.

Interviewing a basketball legend like Ann Meyers Drysdale, the first woman ever to receive a four-year college athletic scholarship after Title IX was signed into law nearly 40 years ago, is a gift. Getting to write about Ann and her daughter, who is now a college freshman reaping the full benefits of 40 years of growing sports equality, for O: The Oprah Magazine is icing on the cake. Having a photo of me with my own daughter included in that issue? Priceless. The issue’s on stands next week, online mid-month. The 40th Anniversary of Title IX is June 23, 2012. And though it’s technically not supposed to be out until June 12, Ann’s book, You Let Some Girl Beat You?, can already be ordered on Amazon. (I might give it to myself for Mother’s Day.)

Interviewing a basketball legend like Ann Meyers Drysdale, the first woman ever to receive a four-year college athletic scholarship after Title IX was signed into law nearly 40 years ago, is a gift. Getting to write about Ann and her daughter, who is now a college freshman reaping the full benefits of 40 years of growing sports equality, for O: The Oprah Magazine is icing on the cake. Having a photo of me with my own daughter included in that issue? Priceless.

The issue’s on stands next week, online mid-month. The 40th Anniversary of Title IX is June 23, 2012. And though it’s technically not supposed to be out until June 12, Ann’s book, You Let Some Girl Beat You?, can already be ordered on Amazon. (I might give it to myself for Mother’s Day.)