ARASeattle wants to bridge the gender gap in tech industry

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by RENAY SAN MIGUEL / KING5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 9:59 AM

A co-founder of the software code writer's network GitHub resigned in March, accused of harassment by a top woman engineer.

The CEO of web ad company RadiumOne was fired last week after pleading guilty to several counts of domestic violence.

Business Insider's chief technology officer lost his job last fall thanks to a string of misogynistic tweets.

These are just three recent examples of sexist and/or bad behavior by men in tech. Much more has been written in the tech blogosphere about the gender gap in technology, the lack of women among its executive ranks and the so-called "brogrammer" culture that can adopt fraternity house attitudes about women to company IT departments.

More women in technology, especially in leadership roles, might reverse those attitudes. That's the focus of ARA (Attract, Retain, Advance), a national group dedicated to empowering women in the IT industry. Begun by the Chicago-based recruiting firm Harvey Nash, ARA's goal is to launch more mentorship programs for women in technology via seminars and events for large groups as well as one-on-one sessions.

That call resonates with Amy Bohutinsky, chief marketing officer for Seattle online real estate data company Zillow. Bohutinsky has been a founding member of successful startup companies in both Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest. She says the lack of female role models in tech means she takes every opportunity to share her experiences and knowledge with those who want to either move up within the industry -- or take their own entrepreneurial chances at starting a company from scratch.

"I grew up in tech without a female mentor, and that's something that's actually made a big difference to me, because as I've grown my own career, it's made me exceptionally aware of the opportunity I have to do that with my team and the people here at Zillow, because I didn't have that," Bohutinsky said.

Seattle offers a more receptive attitude for making those changes, says Molly Kane, director of business development for Harvey Nash and an organizer for ARASeattle. "We work with a ton of startups, and you see women that are in the CMO, CEO and CTO titles, and they've really worked themselves up the ranks," Kane said. "They're doing these startups and seeking funding and so I think the response (to ARA) - there's such a need for it, and there's a want for it."

ARA Seattle is sponsoring a Women in Tech Forum on Tuesday, May 6th, at the Lively Lounge, 3412 4th Avenue South. Dawn Lepore, former CEO of Drugstore.com and now an active investor in tech companies, is the guest speaker. The event's panel includes Bohutinsky; Susie Algard, CEO of OfficeSpace.com; Kate Matsudaira, founder and CEO of Popforms, and Tami Reller, executive vice president of marketing at Microsoft. GeekWire columnist Monica Guzman will serve as event emcee.

The event is free. Those wanting to attend may register online.

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