Valerie Jennings, CEO of JSMM, Speaks to Central Exchange Members; Addresses Entrepreneurship, Tech & Women in Business Challenges

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to many successful and talented women in business and technology leaders in our community at the WiConnex Central Exchange event. I spoke about my journey as an entrepreneur, early adopter in social media and my challenges recovering as a rape survivor. We had an incredible discussion. I was amazed by their honest, sincere and professional dialogue concerning many women in business challenges that we are still facing today. It’s an honor to have been part of their event, which marked the first meeting of its kind. We hope that they continue to host these types of informative and educational meetings.

Women in technology face different obstacles than the women who worked tireless to pave the way before them. It isn’t that we haven’t made progress in opening up doors to women and encouraging them to enter the technology field, it’s just that it isn’t quite up to snuff. We need more organizations or facilitators that are willing to get women the best business advice regarding how to start businesses or climb the ranks within the male-dominated tech and engineering industries. While many men have supported my career, especially in tech, and I’m so grateful to them, it’s the rest of the women out there who may not have been so fortunate to find these types of male mentors. Thank you to all of the amazing men out there who have done so much to elevate my career. I’m forever grateful.

I want to highlight some key discussion points that need work within the women in tech industry:

  1. Recruitment: We still don’t see enough women entering the tech, math and sciences and engineering fields.
  2. Advancement: We need more women in leadership roles within these industries or starting their own businesses.
  3. Education: We need to have more professional development resources to pave the way for future women leaders.
  4. Awareness: More dialogue is needed to keep women talking to each other about the challenges in male-dominated industries and how to compete.

There was overwhelming consensus during the event that there has been tremendous progress for women who want to own businesses in tech, but there is much work to be done and we must do it as a team. There are still too many misconceptions that things have improved and a stagnation has occurred among the community that everything is just okay. It’s time to keep working and continue the efforts that the women before us did to open these doors and opportunities to future leaders.

Again thank you to the Central Exchange for hosting such an amazing event.