Women in Cloud is an initiative founded by executives from Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM, SAP, and other companies with the explicit purpose of empowering female entrepreneurs in the tech world.
In January, an event titled the Women in Cloud Summit was held at Microsoft’s home office in Redmond, WA. The event, which drew 400 mostly-female attendees, served as the first official gathering of the new group.
At the summit, attendees received news of a new cloud accelerator targeting women-led companies that are growing their business with cloud-based technologies.
Cloud Accelerator Lab
Participants of the Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise sponsored accelerator, will have access to a six-month Cloud Accelerator Lab based in Seattle. The program is limited to 20-30 female entrepreneurs per year and includes one-on-one mentorship, discounts on migration assistance and other cloud-based services and solutions, and the opportunity to attend investor meetings and workshops.
This accelerator isn’t offered totally free of charge. There’s a $1,000 administrative fee, and participants are expected to sign an engagement agreement as well as agree to pay-it-forward by volunteering their time and resources to other entrepreneurs along the way.
Encouraging Action in the Tech World
One of Women in Cloud’s biggest initiatives is the promotion of action within the technology industry to encourage and assist female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses in receiving a fair shake at an industry that has long been dominated by men.
Gretchen O’Hara, co-founder of Women in Tech and VP of Marketing for One Commercial Partner at Microsoft told Small Business Trends, “Women start 40 percent of all new businesses. But only 5 percent of those new businesses are tech startups. So there’s a huge opportunity for women small business owners to give back and think about how they can transform their businesses in the cloud.”
To get the ball rolling on the initiative, Women in Cloud is seeking out pledges from existing organizations and executives throughout the tech world to organize accelerator programs of their own, host or sponsor hackathons featuring women, provide scholarships to STEM programs, and to fund programs, awards, and other initiatives started by the Women in Cloud network.
So far, Women in Cloud has been successful. It lists nearly 30 enterprises and organizations among its current partners and sponsors, including several directly from the Cloud world, such as Cloud-Now, another organization that actively promotes female entrepreneurship in the cloud space.
Over the years, countless studies have determined that women are extremely underrepresented in the technology industry. Women hold 11% of the executive positions in companies based in Silicon Valley and only 7% of the positions in the top 100 venture capital firms.
Initiatives like Women in Cloud represent a movement by women that are in those positions of power to leverage their influence in order to make a change. A change that, to many, is long overdue.