A year ago this month, our community tragically and prematurely lost one of its greatest leaders. In honor of Ferolyn, and to keep her strong spirit of mentorship alive, we decided to revisit this blog post from 2010 [reprinted in full below]. Back then, little did I know that what we wrote would still be one of the highest-ranking hits on Google under Ferolyn’s name and that it would even be quoted in one of her obituaries. Back then, the MedTechWomen organization was in its infancy, and these Biodesign Alumni Tableside Chat events were one of the only ways for us to glean such meaningful advice from mentors like Ferolyn.
A successful year of Biodesign Alumni Women’s Group Tableside chats culminates with Kyphon co-founder and inspirational Medtech leader / innovator Karen Talmadge.
On a recent plane ride, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the offerings on the personal entertainment system (conveniently located only 18 inches away from my face) included TED talks. I had been meaning to watch “Why we have too few women leaders”, given by Sheryl Sandberg, former VP at Google and current COO of Facebook. I had just read a Businessweek article featuring Sandberg a few days prior that piqued my interest in the Silicon Valley powerhouse. In her TED talk, she spews a number of disheartening facts showing that women are still struggling to make it to the top of any profession, anywhere in the world: there are 190 heads of state and only 9 are women, women hold only 16% (at best) of top-level corporate jobs, two-thirds of married senior-management-level males have children while only one-third of married senior-management-level females have children, and, perhaps most discouraging of all, the numbers have not changed since 2002 and are, in fact, moving in the wrong direction. Read more
Recently, good friend and fellow alum Dorothea Koh (’07-’08) shared an interesting New York Times article titled “Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley”. The piece described the hurdles that still exist for women in (and striving for) successful positions in the tech sector. According to the article, women own 40 percent of the private businesses in the United States, but they make up only 6 percent of the chief executives of the top 100 tech companies. The disparity seems huge when it comes to technology-based entrepreneurship: women create only 8 percent of the venture-backed tech start-ups and make up only 14 percent of venture capitalists. Similarly, a separate Harvard Business School study has shown that only 5 percent of venture-backed biotech companies have a female CEO. Interestingly, research cited in the New York Times article has found that venture-backed start-ups run by women achieve comparable early-year revenues using an average of 40 percent less capital than those run by their male counterparts, are more likely to survive the transition from raw start-up to established company, and are increasingly involved in successful IPOs.
So what gives? Read more