Are you a woman in NYC Tech and interested in participating in this series? Make sure to read the whole article…
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. Is the problem the old boys network – or that success in technology is seen as a young man’s game? In this series, we speak with some of the top women in tech 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 speak with Silvia Christmann, a renowned adviser and growth coach to executives. A former ad tech executive, Silvia now works with impact-driven leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs as well as C-level executives from organizations like Google, Bridgewater, and PWC. Extremely active in the ecosystem, Silvia has been a strong proponent of addressing the issues surrounding women in tech and, in fact, conversations with Silvia led to the formation of this very series. She joins us to share some candid insights based on her observances.
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
I was born in Germany and raised across Europe before establishing my life in New York City. In my early career, I specialized in business development and helped build successful companies from pre-revenue to their first million and beyond. Now, I focus on structuring businesses and transforming leaders during periods of rapid scale. Before starting my boutique practice in 2011, I played a central role in launching the startup venture MediaRadar. Under my tenure, the company developed into an adtech leader with more than $20 million in revenue.
I have been honored to work with impact-driven leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs as well as C-level executives who work at companies like Google, Bridgewater, PWC, Deutsch, Tom’s Shoes, among many others, and have helped scale companies like Bond Collective (US), Look at Media (RU), and Sapina Ltd (APAC). I am a speaker and inspirational storyteller who has given talks and taught workshops at numerous global conferences, at Columbia University, and at Fortune 100 companies.
I am an international business advisor to CEOs, entrepreneurs, and industry innovators. I develop and support a new generation of leaders who want to embody change in the marketplace. I have spent my career helping high – achievers develop themselves, build their teams, and scale their businesses. Together we create a path towards new leadership models that foster sustainable long-term growth – for the individual, their organizations, and the communities they serve.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?
I think this is simple – include us. Funding! Women get a paltry 2% of VC funding — that is ridiculous. Investors can do better.
Here are some ways you can do this: ask us to speak more, pay us what we deserve, don’t push us out of the marketplace, create flex schedules, and please stop harassing us with unwanted advances.
If we’ve learned anything from the #metoo movement, it’s how common and widespread this really is. Stop casually brushing off “sexual misconduct and harassment” – it’s a breeding ground for inequality. As much as I want to focus on what is “worse” than that, we have to start on what conduct allows; for this culture to perpetuate unconscious bias in the workforce, which in turn affects career choices and advances for women.
What was the genesis for the ‘Women in Tech’ series on AlleyWatch?
I wanted to expand the conversation by featuring more women, their businesses, and their perspectives. It’s just one way to shed more light and celebrate the accomplishments of women that so often go unnoticed.
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
We can build companies that the world needs. Innovation. It’s hard to create change from within. It’s much easier to start a new company, with products and services the world actually needs and then create leadership models that are inclusive, diverse and break away from dated, top-heavy models in which women are not supported, valued, or able to thrive.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
That shouldn’t even be a question anymore. Diversity is good for problem solving and new perspectives. It makes for stronger and healthier businesses.
Women work very hard (often harder than men) and deserve to be compensated and promoted accordingly. Women solve problems differently and also have different problems to solve that men might not even think about. We need more inclusive solution sets that men on their own would overlook, as they don’t apply to them. Women in leadership provide access to new opportunities.
I too often see male-founded companies that hire primarily female staff, and they take great pride in it . They’re smart to hire women — they work harder, and solve problems more effectively. But I find it concerning when men still don’t realize this is part of the problem.
We do not need to fund another company that is run well because a man knew how to delegate female strength to build his dream. We do not need another example of a group of women aligning themselves behind a man’s vision — while being unfairly compensated and undervalued in the process.
We need more female-run businesses and women in leadership positions who get recognized for their work, and who – most importantly get paid!
What can men do to participate in this discussion?
Men can choose to listen to what is brought to their attention. It’s mission critical that for any real change to happen, men must accept that their social conditioning makes them part of the problem. It’s time for them to get to know just how much they’ve been conditioned to see themselves as the stronger, more worthy sex. Change cannot happen when the discomfort of a harsh reality leaves men feeling paralyzed and ashamed to such a degree that they’d rather stick their heads back in the sand.
Get to know your dark side and become a catalyst for change. In order to change anything you have to be willing to look and listen. As long as men brush it off, look away, and choose to NOT investigate these systemic and complex issues and their role in perpetuating them,we will only see marginal results.
Be more intentional about your actions and learn how to remain present in the discomfort of this reality. Women have to be very intentional about everything we do, otherwise we cannot succeed.
I’d invite men to share this notion and take an honest look. Ever since #metoo, pleading ignorance is no longer an excuse. Start with introspection and a evaluation of your own bias as well as the male peer code of conduct you might be tolerating.
Men can speak up more when they see misconduct. Men can demonstrate inclusion, lead by example, and have the presence to uncover and understand their own subconscious. Participate in an unconscious bias study. I honestly think it’s horrifically enlightening how much of the problem men are participating in without even knowing it. We are not trying to place blame. Wee want to invite men into a new world of self-awareness around these issues. We want men’s participation and willingness to investigate even the most uncomfortable truths.
The team at AlleyWatch believes it’s important to have an inclusive discussion around the challenges facing women in tech along with highlighting the work of the female entrepreneurs that have made NYC one of the best places for women in tech according to some recent studies. That’s why we are running this series that showcases women in tech in New York.
If you are a female founder in NYC working in tech and interested in participating in the series please visit this link or click on the image above.
Please feel free to pass this on to any women in NYC that you feel should be considered for the series. Thank you.