By Ethan Baron
The Mercury News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q& A with “Girls in Tech” founder Adriana Gascoigne. The San Francisco nonprofit is dedicated to empowering women and girls interested in technology and getting them into tech jobs.
The way Girls in Tech founder Adriana Gascoigne sees it, revelations about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley technology firms are a double-edged sword: They shine a light on a serious problem but depict an environment that can deter women from careers in tech.
Gascoigne, who says she has suffered harassment many times during her career, founded Girls in Tech in 2007 when she was the sole woman in a technology firm. The San Francisco nonprofit, dedicated to empowering women and girls interested in technology and getting them into tech jobs, now has 60 chapters in 36 countries, with more than 60,000 members.
She has her work cut out for her: Since she founded Girls in Tech, the number of women in the U.S. graduating with computer science degrees has plunged. Even companies like Google, a firm she praised for its focus on diversity, have failed to bring the number of women in their workforces anywhere near 50 percent.
To some extent, the gender problem is self-perpetuating.
“If you don’t have role models that are technical women in high level positions,” Gascoigne said, “it’s really hard for the younger generation of women that are five to 10 years out of college to really grasp the opportunity or the ability to get there. You can’t be what you can’t see.”
The Mercury News spoke recently with Gascoigne about Girls in Tech and her experiences in the technology industry, where she has held a variety of positions in marketing and business development. Her comments have been edited for length and clarity.