Updated Jul. 7, 2014 at 8:45 a.m.

Vivek Wadhwa's book 'Innovating Women' hits markets Sept. 2

Published: 2014-07-07 07:57:00
Updated: 2014-07-07 08:45:59

How have some of the most successful women in technology found success? What lessons can they share to others who hope to crack the "glass ceiling?"

Former Triangle tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa, now an academic and author, examines the challenges women face in the tech industry through a new book based on input from hundreds of female executives and tech workers around the world.

"Innovating Women: The Virtuous Circle, the Catbird Seat, and the Changing Face of Silicon Valley," goes on sale Sept. 2.

A promotional paragraph helps sum up the issue:

"Women in technology are on the rise in both power and numbers, and now it's more important than ever to not lose that momentum, to "lean in" and close the gender gap. Although they make up half of the population, only 14% of engineers in the United States are women. They take the seeds of technological advancement and build something life-changing, potentially life-saving. The future of technology depends on the full and active participation of women and men working together, and it is vital that women are both educated and encouraged to go into the tech sectors."

Few if any people have been more outspoken about the challenges women and minorities face in the tech sector than Wadhwa, a U.S. citizen who was born in India. Wadhwa now is an academic at Duke University and several other institutions, researching and writing about entrepreneurship and education (particularly STEM - science, technology, engineering and math)  as well as social issues.

Vivek WadhwaWadhwa often shows up on news programs (PBS, Bloomberg TV) and speaks internationally about issues that arouse deep passions.

And for his efforts, he has received a great deal of press - not always good - from his crusade against sexism in Silicon Valley (with Twitter as the best-known example). Time Magazine has cited him as one of the "Forty Most Influential Minds in Technology.” Foreign Policy Magazine labelled him a "Top 100 Global Thinker."

To try to explain the plight of women in the tech industry, Wadhwa turned his efforts to a crowd-sourced book. Teaming with journalist Farai Chideya, he conducted interviews and gathered stories from around the world, including Megan Smith, vice president at Google{x}.

"The book incorporates the input of more than five hundred women from all over the world and directly quotes about one hundred of these,"Wadhwa wrote in an email to colleagues about the book.

"It wasn't easy listening to so many voices and telling a gripping story, but Farai Chideya has woven these together masterfully. Innovating Women also has about twenty powerful essays from some amazing women, the latest being from Google[X] VP Megan Smith, venture capitalist Heidi Roizen, Patriarch Partners CEO Lynn Tilton, entrepreneur and technology executive Kim Polese, and one of the first woman in space, Anousheh Ansari. It is hard hitting but optimistic. It discusses the harsh realities of today but also presents realistic solutions and a vision for the future. I know it will inspire thousands to step up and fulfill their potential."

This is Wadhwa's second book - and it's likely to generate a great deal of heat, just as did the first in 2012 - "The Immigrant Exodus.")

Hopefully, wisdom as well. 

Wadhwa is optimistic change will occur.

"Innovating Women is more important today than ever," he wrote. "Things are changing for the better. The recent announcements by Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Facebook of their diversity numbers—and a pledge to improve these—are the most recent victories. The Boys Club is under fire and is trying to reform itself. Women are achieving success and helping each other. Advancing technologies are leveling the playing field. Women are in the catbird seat for the new era of exponential innovation. This is the time to inspire and motivate—and that is what Innovating Women will surely do."


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