May 2, 2005
There has been a campaign in this country in the last few
years, helped along by the media, to encourage young girls
to pursue science and math in schools because we were told
there would be a shortage of women in science, medicine, and
related fields in the years to come.
It worked on me because my wife and I did all we could to
prepare our youngest daughter for the future by introducing
her to computers early in life, getting her early tutoring
for math and science, encouraging her to take classes in middle
and high school that challenged her in those areas, etc.
Now in her junior year in college, shes heavily into
the world of science, shes a computer whiz, and I am
glad we helped close the gender gap in math and science by
Now, I am not so sure that there is a gap any more and while
I would be the last one to discourage anything that lessens
students developing their skills in math and science, I just
had an experience on this topic that I thought was worth sharing.
In my role as a Director of a publicly traded (American Stock
Exchange) company comprised of several technology companies,
I was asked to attend an Internet trade show called Ad-Tech.
digital marketing conference for marketing leaders included
both online and offline advertising, marketing, and communications
agencies, Internet giants like Google, and firms you have
never of who operate behind the scenes and make it easier
for us to shop, research, and in too many cases, waste hour
after hour online.
Without a doubt, the most startling impression I got from
the three-day show was how many young women were there as
owners, high level technology executives, or in charge of
sales and major accounts. I guess I had expected to see a
lot of guys named Raj and Sinder with heavy South Asian accents
dominating the convention halls.
Instead, I found the age 21 to 35 female demographic in very
heavy supply. They were talking SEO (Search Engine Optimization),
Rich Media, affiliate marketing, remote DNS servers, and other
words of the English language that most Americans have never
heard. The gender breakdown was about 50-50, but the women
were generally more of a magnet for the 5,000 attendees of
They were a savvy bunch in technology, sales, and in the
intricacies of many of the industries represented by the attendees
who were looking for solutions for their businesses. Equally,
there were multitudes of women, of all ages, strolling through
the exhibit halls looking for products and services for their
It was enough to make a guy wonder why, if women have made
such great strides in the renowned industry of the future,
there has been such a hue and cry about the lack of opportunities
for women in the business world, and such a lack of women
prepared to compete in the world of technology.
There was a slightly different picture when you left the
exhibit hall and went to the more than 50 conference sessions
where all the experts and Internet gurus dispense advice.
I found that approximately 22 per cent of the conference speakers
were female, but in terms of the moderators or facilitators
of the sessions, the role of women increased to 33 per cent.
The world of advertising in technology is still evolving,
as is the use of the Internet by average people around the
globe, especially in developed nations. Yet, it is clear to
me that women already are significant players in this industry
and I dont think enough attention has been paid to that.
More importantly, YOUNG women appear to comprise the majority
of the up-and-comers in the E world and I would
have had to be blind to see that. From the hip hugger jeans
exposing the pierced navels, to the tattoos on the exposed
lower backs and tops of the ankles backside, to the
young vocabulary that dominated the convention, it was clear
youth was in charge.
One vendor even held a private booze party for
21 to 26 year-olds in a private penthouse at a swank hotel
several blocks from the headquarters hotel. He told me that
the kids want to be kids and get drunk AWAY from their
bosses and customers. The young people are the lifeblood
of the fastest growing and probably most innovative business
sector to come along in decades, if not centuries, and this
carries its own level of stress. For young, fairly inexperienced
entrepreneurs and employees, its a great field to be
in, but they too need an outlet for that stress.
It reminds me of the axiom that when I work, I work
hard, and when I play, I play hard. I think the news
media needs to pay more attention to the tremendous inroads
young people, especially women, have made by taking the time
to master a little bit of the worlds of math and science.
There is always the need to motivate our youth because too
many arent sure what they want to do in life. But it
wasnt more than six to ten years ago that the media
parroted the woeful drones of educators and business leaders
that the future of U.S. business was doomed because we lacked
the ability to stay competitive in math and science.
I think we should concede that we are well on the way to avoiding
such a brain drain disaster, at least in the world of technology
and in one of the newest industries - advertising, marketing
and communications on the World Wide Web.