Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector, be it as investors (or associates), founders or in management positions at major companies. In this series, we speak with some of the top industry women in New York as they discuss the challenges they face, the perceptions that need to be changed and the work that’s being done – or not – to help to promote women in tech.
Today we hear from Fran Hauser, President of Digital for Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group, overseeing PEOPLE.com – the most visited site in the publishing industry – as well as EW.com, InStyle.com and others. These sites reach over 38 million unique visitors each month and generate more than one billion page views. Hauser is also responsible for the mobile and tablet strategy for these brands, including the launch of over 20 consumer products reaching more than 4 million users.
Hauser is an active philanthropist, serving on the Board of Directors of GlobalGiving and ZenCare and on the Advisory Board of Helpusadopt. She is also a co-founder of GlobalGiving’s New York Leadership Council; funder of projects relating to global women’s and children’s issues; and an angel investor in technology and fashion startups.
Are you involved in any organizations that help to promote female entrepreneurship?
In the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in female-created startups and new businesses being led by young women, which makes it a very exciting and empowering time. I work very closely with the founders of Levo League—a startup designed to elevate women in the workforce with career resources and mentorship—as both an investor and a mentor. Their company vision is to eliminate the disparity between women and men across industries, which is something I obviously agree with, and I appreciate the way they approach this through a mentorship philosophy. I am also an active investor in F Cubed (Female Founders Fund), which is a seed-stage fund investing in female entrepreneurs with companies that target the digital, female consumer.
What do you do in your current role to support females within your corporation/industry?
At Time Inc., I am the Executive Sponsor of our Women in Technology program created to empower female employees through digital- and technology-focused talks, panels, events, and presentations from top influencers and professionals in the field. The program has been very popular within the walls of Time Inc., and we have been lucky enough to have speakers and guests from some of the most buzzed-about businesses, such as StoryCode, Birchbox, Girls Who Code, and LearnVest. As much as I can, I try and speak at events and highlight entrepreneurship, technology and career advancement, and the importance of women embracing these fields.
There is so much talk right now about women and career advancement and it’s a good thing for everyone that the issues women face in the workforce are out there being discussed and, hopefully, improved. Truly though, I think the best thing that has come out of this “movement” is that, more and more, women are talking together in collaborative and useful ways to build each other up. This is especially important in digital and technology careers, where women can feel more intimidated to dive in. I am fortunate to work with many smart, strong women in different phases of their careers, and I enjoy doing what I can to share and empower them.
You run digital for some of the largest brands in the publishing industry. Have you ever felt that being a woman in technology has hindered your growth? Do you feel as though you’ve had to break boundaries?
Throughout my career, I have never felt that being a woman has hindered my trajectory or opportunities. At Time Inc. specifically, I lead digital brands with primarily female audiences—PEOPLE.com, InStyle.com, EW.com—so being a woman has actually served me well in being able to identify directly with our core consumer. I understand our user’s pain points and desires and am able to approach new features and products through that lens of understanding.
What are your thoughts on the rise of career mentoring and sponsorship?
This is a question I get often these days, and not one that I heard much at all, early in my career. Beyond the mentor/mentee relationship, there are channels like Levo League and Her Campus that offer wonderful opportunities for young women to connect with established communities of women (and men!) who are successful in their careers and open to sharing best practices, anecdotes and advice that has been meaningful to them. Beyond the tactical practices and networking connections you can make in these situations, being a part of the community can be extremely empowering to both the member and the mentor.
As it is with anything you do, you get out of something what you put into it. If you are young and starting out in your career, you shouldn’t just email someone and ask him/her to be a mentor and expect that person to work magic on your behalf. These relationships work best when they happen organically. I’ve met a lot of young women during speaking opportunities who connect with me afterwards over email, LinkedIn or Twitter. I’ve made significant connections with the people who follow up with smart questions, make interesting suggestions about business, or share an idea that I can help to elevate. The crux of it is about expanding networks, and doing it in a personal way that goes beyond sharing a business card.