A celebration of disruptive women (“Techcrunch, disrupted” part 4)

TechCrunch Disrupt wasn’t the only conference happening this week. The tenth Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is currently going on in Atlanta, and this year’s theme is Collaborating across Boundaries. There’s no streaming video, alas, but things have been hopping on Twitter.

Since it’s Follow Friday on Twitter, I figured I’d mirror the theme of celebration and devote this post to recognizing and paying homage* to some of the women involved with the Disrupt conference this week.

Let’s start with the three female CEOs who pitched in the Startup Battlefield: Tara Hunt of Shwowp, Melanie Moore of ToVieFor, and Sumaya Kazi of Sumazi.   They all did excellent jobs, and if I had been judging would have put all three of their companies in the finals.**  Kudos as well to the other female founders who were part of other pitches.  It’s really great to see this.

Update, October 4: oops, Women 2.0’s list of female founders to watch points out that I had missed Julia Hu of Lark.  Sorry about that!

It was also great to see J’aime Ohm win the Hackathon with WiseDame.  In a short video below, she describes the concept and also gives a brilliant description of how to do iterative, human-focused, software development.   Is it just me, or does WiseDame seem far more disruptive than most of the startups pitching location-based ideas?

And of course there were the participants on the women in tech panel. True, it could have gone a lot better, and any of the panelists would have been well-suited to another session instead of being ghettoized to talk about something framed as “women’s issues”. Still, as Anastasia Hilinski’s says in It Was Good To See Women Represented At TechCrunch Disrupt 2010

What I DO know is that as a woman entrepreneur it feels comforting walking into a tech conference such as TechCrunch Disrupt 2010 and seeing women represented on the agenda as well as seeing this much media buzz about us ladies.

Indeed.  Thanks to Rachel Sklar of Change the Ratio and Mediaite for making it happen, and to web marketing strategist Michelle Greer, Lauren Leto of Bnter, Leila Chirayath Janah of Samasource, Sara J Chipps of Girl Developer IT, and Cyan Banister of Zivity.  I hope next time we get to hear more from all of you.

There was a lot of great commentary on Twitter, too: @carlat (also wrote the excellent Why We Need to Reframe the “Women in Tech” debate on Mashable), @adriarichards, @sarahcuda, @missrogue, @geekygirldom, @swathyprithivi, @wendynorris, and many others. I’ve got a Twitter list (also including a few guys) at http://twitter.com/jdp23/tcdisrupters.

Finally, let’s take a moment to recognize the women of TechCrunch: CEO Heather Harde, Sarah Lacy, Leena Rao, Evelyn Rusli, Alexia Tsotsis, Roxanne Varza, and all the others.  It can’t be easy to work in that environment, and they do a great job.  It was really disappointing to see the media largely overlook Heather’s role as they cover acquisition, and in general I don’t think any of them get the recognition.

It’s easy to focus on the negative in the women in technology debate.  Alas, we still live in a world where there are still significant barriers to entrepeneurial success, and many guys try to marginalize women to discuss “women’s issues” while keeping the discussions of power and investment for themselves.  The women I’ve listed here, like so many others, have overcome huge obstacles as they’ve taken their different paths to success.

Thanks to all of you for being great role models.


* in the gender-inclusive sense of the word 🙂

** along with Storify, Voxy, and real-world finalists CloudFlare, Datasift, and eventual winner Qwiki.