In 1998, at age 25, Martha Lane Fox pitched her lastminute.com idea to the only investor who'd meet her and co-founder Brent Hoberman. Investor man was silver-haired and wore a three-piece suit. Lane Fox, recounts the story on her new website DOT EVERYONE. It was the most important pitch of her life. She was pioneering this brilliant new online concept, it promised change for all of us. It was a moment. Old silver-hair replied with one, short question. 'What happens if you get pregnant?'
That was nearly twenty years ago. And as Lane Fox sees it today, very little has changed. The tech world is still, in the main, run by men for male needs. In her recent Richard Dimbleby lecture, she cut to the quick. “Do you think Apple would have released its much-anticipated 'Health Kit' product without the ability to track periods if there had been a woman high-up in the organisation? I don’t.”
It's a depressing, predictable state of affairs. The tech world needs women because to use technology today, is to live. We run our lives from the palms of our hands, and yet as few as 6.5 per cent of school girls study computer science.
Get behind the change by signing Lane Fox's petition. She's a proven vehicle for innovation, let's support her.
In America, the recent Thank You Ellen Pao story has also been invigorating. Yes Ellen Pao lost the high-profile sex discrimination case that she brought against her now ex-employees, Kleiner Perkins. What was fascinating though, was that the act alone was enough to shift perceptions and shine a spotlight on the simple fact that there are inherent and deep-rooted sexism and inequality issues within global tech companies.
To acknowledge Pao's bravery, a group of Silicon Valley employees - women and men - took out a full page advert in the Palo Alto Daily Post. It simply read: THANKS ELLEN.
We are a long way from seeing any type of parity for women in technology. These recent events help shine a light on the situation. They are positive, productive shifts that should speak as loudly to young women as they do senior men. Because to make a change is about educating everyone. Yes, it was a great loss for Pao. But hopefully an exciting gain for all women in tech is on its way.