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Women in Cloud Network Hope to Empower Women Entrepreneurs in Technology

A new movement is underway in the technology industry. A group of women in management positions in companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Meylah have come together to form the Women in Cloud Network, a group dedicated to women entrepreneurs and technology space professionals across the globe. different initiatives.

Network of Women in the Cloud

Recently, the group held its first Women in Cloud Summit event on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington. The inaugural event brought together nearly 400 participants, mostly women. And the founding team has made some announcements, including a new accelerator and a pledging system.

Many founding members met through their involvement with IgniteWA, an economic initiative to support small businesses in the state of Washington. But even though IgniteWA has launched initiatives to improve diversity, the group felt that the issue of women's support in technology was important enough to justify its own entity.

Gretchen O & # 39; Hara, co-founder of Women in Tech and vice president of marketing for One Commercial Partner at Microsoft, told Small Business Trends, "Women make up 40% of all new businesses. But only 5% of these new companies are technology startups. There is therefore a huge opportunity for women small business owners to give back and think about how they can turn their businesses into the cloud. "

The founding team has therefore come together to create Women in Tech, an organization still in its infancy, but which already has several initiatives underway. Here is a bit more about different areas of interest for women in the cloud.

Cloud Accelerator

One of the biggest announcements is the creation of a new accelerator program for businesses run by women seeking to expand their business using cloud technology. The program is supported by Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise and includes a six-month cloud accelerator lab experience in Seattle.

To be eligible, applicants must have at least one woman in the founding team, use cloud technologies to create a recurring revenue model, develop value-added solutions using cloud technologies and be interested in the use of Microsoft and HPE channels. develop their business.

Once selected, companies will have the opportunity to attend individual coaching, migrate to Microsoft Azure for free, participate in investor workshops, and benefit from special rates for partner services. Even once the initial program is completed, the team hopes that the industry will begin to have a coaching effect.

O. Hara says, "The hope is that we can start with the first group of women entrepreneurs, prepare them to do the hard work, roll up their sleeves and do heavy work to pass the program. They will have all the resources, the mentorship, the software and the services at their disposal to accelerate their growth in the cloud. Then once we finish this course, we hope that they can go back and reconnect with others and support even more women – owned businesses. "

Cloud Commitments

The founding team also hopes to inspire the action of other industry players, even those who might not be able to take advantage of the program to speed up. Part of their strategy is to rally concrete action promises from industry players, which they can take to improve diversity and inclusion in their own organizations or in the region. 39, whole industry.

The idea stems from an earlier experience of Wendy White, another founding member of Women in Tech. Years ago, White was the victim of an incident at a company she was working for at the time. A colleague chose to leave the company after many complaints of the "tech bro" culture that was not known to be super friendly with women. It was also in the midst of the gamer-door controversy and many other conversations surrounding the difficulties of being a woman in the tech space.

White says of that time, "I thought, 'I am the oldest woman here – I am. Then I felt that I had to act – I could not talk about it. I have therefore created a mentoring network for women within the company. "

And now, she and the rest of the Women in Cloud team want to inspire others to take similar action through a system of promises.

White explains, "We do not want it to be just a conversation, everyone knows the numbers of diversity and the importance of inclusion, but we want to go to the next step. What can we really do to catalyze our network – can we shell out money for a scholarship, agree to be a mentor for other women? "

Ms. White spoke about the idea at the recent Women in Cloud Summit, asking other participants to make concrete promises that they could make to enable and support women-owned businesses. professional women in the technological space. The initial goal was to collect 100 such promises over time. But White says she's got about 50 people right now, so she hopes that they'll be able to go beyond that initial goal.

The team is putting in place a system of pledges on its website. But for now, White encourages business owners and other interested people to promise to email him directly with their ideas.

Circles of Opportunity

A potential avenue of action for those seeking to support women in technology is to create circles of opportunity that help connect women with mentors and opportunities in the industry . And the Women in Cloud team is also promoting this idea with its own network of mentors and advisers.

Carrie Francey of HPE and Women in Cloud told Small Business Trends: "The idea is to influence and help others find funding or facilitate this process with tools and resources and people who can help by advising or sharing them. individual skills. "

The idea behind these circles would be to have small groups that have both experienced mentors and women looking to grow their business or advance their careers. These groups can meet and help expand their respective networks and provide advice and opportunities to other group members.

You can register on the site if you wish to join the network Women in Cloud. Men and women are invited to join the mentoring and mentoring network.

Women at the top of the clouds

These are just some of the issues discussed at this year's Women in Cloud Summit, which took place on January 19th. Speakers from Microsoft, HPE and other technology giants, educational exercises and roundtables

Men and women were invited to attend. However, the majority of participants were women, which is a major exception in the technological space.

Overall, the team was pleased with the event and hopes to continue with it, as well as the plethora of other initiatives it has in the future.

O. Hara says, "We do not see this as just a network or initiative – it's really a movement."

Image: Anne Nelson (via Chaitra Dutt)

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