Guest post by Joline Godfrey (learn more about the author at the end of the article):
I wrote my first book, Our Wildest Dreams: Women Making Money, Doing Good, Having Fun, in 1993 and No More Frogs to Kiss: 99 Ways to Give Economic Power to Girls in 1998. In those years, I really thought that by the time we entered the 21st century these books would be thoroughly irrelevant, that girls would have become economic and technologic leaders—and to a large extent, they are. Marissa Mayer leads Yahoo, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is on the best seller list, and I have whole busloads of girlfriends running companies that currently influence the culture of technology and innovation.
But, we’re still not where many of us had hoped we’d be. In 2012, Businessweek reported that female MBAs from Stanford University face one of the widest gender-wage gaps at elite business schools, making just 79 cents for every $1 earned by male peers. Last year, the venture capital and private equity industries tied for the worst industries for female MBAs, with women in both fields making 82 cents on every dollar earned by male counterparts. That number, too, has dropped by about 10 cents in recent years.
Furthermore, a report from the New York City Economic Development Corp. cites that nearly 40 percent of women in New York hold bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering, and related fields, yet they hold only about 8 percent of the tech and scientific jobs in the city. About 18 percent of startups in New York have women founders.
Enter, Camp Start-Up. Though we have a distance to go in achieving gender equality in the workplace, the difference between 1998 and 2013 is that there exists a vanguard of 21st century men and women that are more inviting and supportive of young women who are testing their wings as young entrepreneurs and inventors; economic and intellectual leaders. As we bring many of them together for 12 days in July, we are able to help teenagers get an early start on their own economic and technological journeys.
The program, located on the Santa Clara University campus, brings the oh so ready young women into the realm of Silicon Valley, where top business leaders act as catalysts and provocateurs. For almost two weeks, they will work on business plans and portfolios, and will have access to people who think, breathe, and live ideas that are likely to spark inspiration. The girls attending Camp Start-Up will visit Google and gourmet food trucks; they’ll meet with engineers from Tesla; a female geologist who’s a leading figure in one of the world’s largest alternative energy companies, and women leading international social enterprises.
The idea is to immerse the next generation of women in a social group and culture that tells them ‘they belong’ and that they are NEEDED to impact the course of the 21st century.