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Kelly Bennett’s latest story in her exploration of potential roadblocks to local innovation looks at the relevance of older tech institutions and gender disparity in the industry. In the comments, readers are discussing how to involve more women in the tech industry.

Here’s Andy Kopp:

Aside from networking and the influence of an older generation, Adriana Herrera also notes the difficulty in accessing capital (in the linked New York Times article). It would be interesting to see if she, or Gabriela Dow, think that crowdfunding can be a game-changer in bridging that gap for women innovators.

Also, is the need to “involve more girls and women” (as Dow notes) something of a self-correcting problem – wherein over time, more girls and women gravitate exponentially toward these fields as they see them opening up more and more? How can we juice that process a bit?

Gaby Dow, quoted in the article, responded:

Crowdfunding is difficult — not the magic bullet many imagine without solid outreach, fundraising and marketing strategy already in place. Involving girls and women is a good long-term approach that will simply take the conscious effort to invite them to events, encourage their input, acknowledge their leadership and respect them in a traditionally male-dominated field. Of course, we’re having a diversion right right with the view of how women are respected in the workplace and in our city and that certainly does not help. Imagine older experts may now have an added reason to not mentor young women: potential perceived harassment issues they would rather just avoid. All of these things add up but we must still work to make progress.

Andy Kopp:

I’d think we should demand (the way some are with the city’s current scandal) that men behave professionally in the workplace, and treat women with respect universally, not discount the mentorship of experts because the field is male-dominated now. That said, female mentorship specifically should be seen as crucial because while the industry slowly trudges toward a more egalitarian existence, only those women will be able to tell other women how they overcame the gender hurdles.

Are there female specific tech industry mentorship organizations?

Two other commenters, who also make appearances in the article, responded with some answers:

Eric Otterson:

Andy, for starters, there is Athena, Chic CEO, and Geek Girl, all in San Diego, and all aiming to help women entrepreneurs.

Melani Gordon:

Don’t forget Women 2.0 and WITI

In our commentary section, UC San Diego biomedical sciences Ph.D student Jacqueline Ward explores possible reasons for a gender imbalance in the sciences. She shared her personal experience, too:

I grew up in an education system where I was never told that I couldn’t do something. I wasn’t told that math and science were men’s fields. I was never told that I had to take home economics over shop class. As a Ph.D student in the biomedical sciences, my cohort throughout high school, college, and graduate school has always been at least 50 percent female. Admittedly, this is only one female scientist’s experience. Am I an isolated case or is this the norm?

It is difficult for me to identify with any of the gender bias that the three panelists experienced. And yet when I think about it, all five members of my thesis committee are men. The majority of tenured faculty in my program is men. And that doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of the statistics in the more male-dominated fields of math and engineering.

Comments have been lightly edited for style, grammar and clarity, and links were added. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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