In Silicon Valley, the names often bandied about when referring to tech innovators are largely associated with men. Despite the tech world being "mostly" a men's club, some high-tech innovators came together last night to surprisingly honor those rarely noticed: women. That was the biggest and most welcoming surprise for me.
Before an audience of some 150 attendees at the the 2012 TechFellow Awards held at the SF Museum of Modern Art, Jim Parsons, an Emmy winner for his role in the "Big Bang Theory" emceed the event. Parsons, though a great character in the show, was pretty straight-laced and staid onstage.
But milling amongst the crowd was actress/comedian Goldie Hawn, who was impressive just for her appearance alone. She probably would have done a rocking job onstage too. She looked amazing for a woman nearly hitting 70 years old. (On right: Goldie Hawn and Ruchi Sanghvi, co-founder of Cove and one of the winners.)
In fact, there were many women in attendance, and many who received awards.
It was noticeable particularly for the General Management Awards. This year, that award went to Heather Harde, former CEO of TechCrunch, Clara Shih, co-founder and CEO of Hearsay Social and Victoria Ransom, founder and CEO of Wildfire Interactive. That's three out of five winners in that category. Only two women received this award in the prior two years combined.
The TechFellow Awards, though seemingly a very small event with few people beyond the winners noticing what's going on is actually quite a big deal. Each winner receives $100,000 to invest in a start-up, including a start-up they'd like to start themselves. The $2 million in funding for these awards comes from Founders Fund and NEA.
Some of the funds that have been deployed have gone into start-ups that are worth noting, including HipChat, Quora, Fflick, and Callspark.
(If you're a woman in technology, what are your thoughts about the turnout for women winner? I'd like to do a follow-up story. Comment below)
Here's a picture of the winners for General Management:
In the Disruptive Innovation category, Leilah Janah, founder of Samasource, was one of the winners. She's the first women to win an award in this category since the Awards began three years ago.
Here's a picture of the Disruptive Innovation Award winners:
In Engineering Leadership, Hilary Mason, Chief Scientist at Bit.ly, and Ruchi Sanghvi, co-founder of Cove were winners. Only two other women won this award in prior years.
Here's a list of the winners for Engineering Leadership:
Here's the full list for the 2011 TechFellow Award winners, across each of the four categories: