Why are there so few women in technology?

Esther Dyson does business as EDventure Holdings, the reclaimed name of the company she owned for 20-odd years before selling it to CNET Networks in 2004. In the last few years, she has turned her sights towards IT and health care. She dedicated two issues of her newsletter, Release 1.0, to the topic (Health and Identity: No Patient Left Behind? in January 2005 and Personal Health Information: Data Comes Alive! in September 2005).  Also in September 2005, she ran the Personal Health Information workshop that laid out many of the challenges still perplexing the health-care community.

Currently, she is on the board of directors of 23andMe and is one of the initial ten subjects of George Church's Personal Genome Project. Her primary activity is investing in start-ups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include Boxbe, CVO Group (Hungary), Eventful.com, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia, advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (UK), NewspaperDirect, and WPP Group and Yandex (Russia).

Some of her past direct IT investments include Flickr, Del.icio.us, BrightMail, Medstory and Orbitz. Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000, and was also chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the 90's. In 1997, she wrote Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, which appeared in paperback a year later as Release 2.1. In 1994, she wrote a seminal essay on intellectual property for Wired magazine.

  • Transcript


Question: Why are there so few women in technology?

Esther Dyson: Because technology is like every other field Incumbents like to keep control and I was just in South Africa interestingly where there is an issue now between local South Africans especially black ones who come from typically a back ground where they didn’t have a lot of education and blacks and barbarian refugees who have a very good education and so they would get a lot of the IT jobs except that they can get working papers so who ever has got control of the resources is going to use what ever excuse they can to keep other people out and it is not men going of specifically and keeping the women out but the culture the are well boys club all these traditional things plus if you like learned of origin to technology and science especially among women and girls and so are these things interact.

Question: How do we change that?

Esther Dyson: A good role models and just time and there is a problem now with it is not just women it is, it is men as well not being interested in good solid scientific technical, mathematical education which is key for all of these.

Recorded on: 03/21/2008