Three interesting pieces of news about women so far today:
The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of public Silicon Valley companies with at least one woman on their boards has reached a new high of 56 percent. That's an increase from 41 percent in 2003, according to figures from executive recruiters Spencer Stuart. It says 20 percent of the directors added in the past year have been women. The companies adding female directors include Yahoo, Applied Materials and Autodesk.
The story attributes the increase to maturity of companies and their global reach, which prompts them to seek more diversity on their boards, plus more women who have reached the C-suite and are available for service. It quotes Pascal Di Fronzo, Autodesk's general counsel, saying:
You want board members with divergent experiences and viewpoints, and that leads you down the path of diversity.
Yet women make up just 8.6 percent of all Silicon Valley board members, compared with 15.9 percent on the boards of Standard & Poor's 500 companies.
And after much hullabaloo, Computer Engineer Barbie made her debut Wednesday to a group of Girl Scouts at the at the Microsoft Mountain View campus. MercuryNews.com reports that Mattel worked with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineers on the doll. It's designed to encourage girls to consider careers in engineering and science, considering that only 10 percent of engineers in the United States are women.
This Barbie's fashionably hot, wearing a T-shirt with a binary code pattern, a hot pink laptop and a Bluetooth smartphone in her ear, and the story quotes one of the little girls saying, "I like all her stuff." Barbie has had 124 other professions throughout the years, so perhaps moms can stem their gag reflexes for one more. The article also quotes a female Microsoft senior software developer saying, "It isn't a vector that would have worked for me."
And an invitation-only event called "Alley to the Valley," beginning Thursday night will bring together 25 East Coast self-made businesswomen, many with net worths of more than $100 million, together with 25 Silicon Valley counterparts to focus on entrepreuneurship. The New York Times quotes one of the organizers, Deborah Perry Piscione, saying of her move to Silicon Valley from New York:
Back East, my whole network was men, but here there's this big group of incredible, fearless women. They rise a lot more quickly in their careers, and they support each other. They've made their own money and they take risks. There's such a disconnect between the two coasts.
She believes East Coast women have some things to learn about attracting venture capital, and that the event will open doors to investment from other female entrepreneurs.