So is mobile really a boys’ club?
November 19, 2013
Shuli Lowy is marketing director of Ping Mobile
By Shuli Lowy
We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook
On Nov. 5 I partook in a panel that focused on career advancement for women during Mobile Marketers Mobile Women to Watch 2014 Summit, a New York-based event that recognizes female prowess in the field.
The need for this pat on the back arises from the indisputable statistics that demonstrate how few women actually make it to executive leadership roles.
Women make up more than 50 percent of the population but less than 20 percent of the digital ad-tech workforce. This drops to the single digits when talking about senior rolesat companies.
In discussions with my fellow panelists as well as in the many follow up emails I later received, many women expressed their frustration at the glass ceiling barrier within the mobile industry. They portrayed a boys-club mentality where women who perform just as well as men are simply barred from executive positions.
I do not know the men who run these boys clubs but I have no doubt that had they witnessed the sheer talent of the women at this event, they would have known that they are only harming their companies by restraining this exceedingly qualified group.
However, the blame cannot solely be placed on the boys club.
A week and a half ago I was privileged to have an intimate group discussion in Gondar, Ethiopia, with Belaynesh Zevadia, the first Ethiopian ambassador to Israel who achieved her stature in the face of tremendous adversary.
When asked how she was able to persevere through those challenges she responded, I find its not productive to focus on the challenges. We each need to do our part to perform our best.
Ms. Zevadia made no mention of the fact that she was born in a developing country on a rural hilltop where there was no electricity and a tremendously lacking educational system.
Nor did she mention that in her village children typically walked several hours a day to access water. She also did not mention that as a young child she immigrated, without her parents, to a foreign country with a foreign language where she was racially discriminated against. Not a single word.
Instead she called for personal responsibility.
Making light work
Perhaps it is time we too stop playing the blame game. Not because there is not blame to be placed or because the injustice does not exist, but because pointing fingers does little to help.
In fact, if we would truly be honest with ourselves, the lack of female executive leadership within the field could have easily been predicted.
Many of the executive roles referenced are occupied by people who took the first dive into the cold pool of mobile.
Men predominantly spearheaded the movement towards emerging technologies. We cannot expect the individuals who just put their heart and soul into starting a company or department to step down from running it simply to add a female presence to the stage.
If we want to occupy executive positions in a young industry, we need to be the leaders of entrepreneurship.
The few women who did start mobile-related companies or divisions are, in most part, still running them. Perhaps we would be better served by focusing on why women are underperforming in innovative entrepreneurship.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Martin Luther King Jr.s stinging words were meant for a far more important topic and yet they are relevant to almost every facet of life.
Positive change requires a positive energy.
LET US FOCUS on demonstrating the irrefutable talent that exists at our core. Let us embolden women to lead mobile innovation and entrepreneurship.
Passion, originality, dexterity, critical thinking, performance that is what drives progress.
The most destructive barriers in life are those that we set for ourselves.
Shuli Lowy is marketing director of Ping Mobile, New York. Reach her at .