SAO PAULO – Encouraging girls to work with technology from an early age is essential for some of them to decide to become not only entrepreneurs and executives in the area, but leaders who will transform new industries. Cryptoactives, artificial intelligence and machine learning are just some of the examples of areas in which women can be protagonists before the gap of gender get installed.
The analysis is by Randi Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg’s older sister, Randi was one of the first employees of the social network Facebook. Today, his resume is much longer. An entrepreneur and investor, Randi founded Zuckerberg Media, a production and marketing consultancy. The businesswoman’s mission is to promote an increase in the female presence in business, especially in the technology sector.
Randi spoke about the transformations of the media market during the pandemic and gave even more advice to women entrepreneurs and executives during the panel “Business women and technology without secrets”, in the 11th edition of Expert XP.
“Some of you may have worked in family businesses before and you know it can be amazing, but also challenging. After ten years, I decided to follow my dreams, in large part because of what I saw in Silicon Valley,” says Randi.
“I didn’t like being the only woman in the meeting rooms I went to for ten years. How can you manage a global company if everyone around you looks like you? So, I dedicated myself to encouraging knowledgeable or experienced women to found their companies and reach high positions in technology companies. But how could I be a trusted spokesperson for entrepreneurship if I had never created my business? It was time to go my way, and inspire women to do the same.”
All are content creators
On Facebook, one of Randi’s first projects emerged from a hackaton – a kind of intense project programming competition. “People worked on a dream all night long and presented it a few hours later, in the morning of the next day. I participated myself and hosted Facebook Live, which had live-streamed interviews. Unfortunately, only my father and mother watched the first broadcast”, he says.
“I thought it would be a project failure. But over the next few weeks, we had celebrities, politicians and athletes around the world. Four months after the hackaton, the US president was using Facebook Live. So people from all over the world. Even though it took ten years for this to happen, it made me wonder how each of us is a content creator. No matter your profession, you are also a media company.”
For the businesswoman and investor, all professionals should think about how to create content, how to collaborate with other influencers and how to test new formats, such as videos and podcasts. “Even traditional industries are agreeing that media and technology must come together for content to survive. Movie theaters before had the luxury of not having anything to do with technology, because the business was doing well. Today, the situation is different.”
Teach technology, especially to women
Randi also states that the pandemic times have brought challenges for companies, consumers, educators and even parents regarding the interaction with technology.
“Social media needs to work harder [contra as fake news], but as a consumer we also have to ask ourselves the source of the information and if we can verify the information before sharing it and avoid becoming part of the problem”, he says.
In schools, the businesswoman and investor says that teachers will have to teach how to find fake news and how to be a better informed consumer. Parents, on the other hand, had to allow their children to use screens, and with that came the reflection on the insertion of technology into their daily lives.
“The last year changed everything for the parents. In my own family, I went from allowing little screen time to seeing them ten hours a day taking classes through Zoom. My oldest ten-year-old son had unsupervised internet access. I would never have let that happen, but I was also supervising another five-year-old and a baby at home. So parents are reassessing the role of technology in our lives,” says Randi.
Fathers and mothers must connect children with technology, from the perspective of entrepreneurs and investors. “Parents immediately think of putting the child in front of a screen. But there are several ways to connect kids with technology other than through a screen: projects maker and robotics are some examples.”
The effort must be even greater for girls. Randi did a study of at what age women start to deviate from the technology sector and areas such as science and math. I thought the deviation took place near adulthood – but I was wrong.
“I found out that this happens at age nine. The social pressure starts to build and they believe these areas are for men, or that they are not good enough. So, it’s important to encourage them early on. If not, we’re going to lose them even before they discover that this fantastic world also exists for them”, he says.
Women leading new industries
What if these women are already professionals? “The best time to have learned something new is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. (…) As long as you are curious about the world, you can learn and benefit from these new industries”, advises Randi.
The businesswoman and investor also says that new tech geeks should stop focusing on regaining their stake in male-dominated industries: there are several areas in technology that need to be built from scratch.
“What if we looked at industries that men don’t dominate and raised them? Crypt, artificial intelligence and machine learning [aprendizado de máquina] these are some very exciting industries, and women can build them from scratch. Otherwise, after ten years we will continue to talk about how women can reach men.”
On this journey, Randi advises teaming up with equals. “When men say nice things about themselves, they are perceived as confident. Women are seen as arrogant. So, join women who share their achievements and who lift each other up. Surrounding myself with incredible mentors was one of the most important things for my career.”
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