Serial entrepreneur Jenny Ta has founded and ran three companies in the last twenty years. Her latest effort, Sqeeqee, is a “social networthing” platform launched in 2014, designed to allow users to monetize their social networking habits. As a minority female CEO in an industry largely populated by men, Ta champions women in the workforce and hopes to empower others by her example.
Below are edited excerpts from Ta’s interview with Diversity Executive.
As a female founder, what challenges have you encountered working in the male-dominated tech sector?
I believe that the biggest challenge for women (and men for that matter) in tech today is finding the right people to make their dream come true. It’s tough to find those programmers, coders, VCs, etc., that share your same vision. Getting a group of people to think with one mind is no easy task. I spent a great deal of time searching for individuals that complimented my management style and shared in my vision for the future of Sqeeqee and Squiggy Piggy.
What can be done to help women overcome these types of challenges?
Women can overcome these types of challenges by sticking together. By networking amongst ourselves (as was done for years by male entrepreneurs) we increase our chances of finding others that not only share our vision and style but will take us seriously as well. Women must work to fund the projects created by their peers. We must create our first generation of female VC funded companies to serve as a ladder to everyone. Those at the top must do their part to continuously look for female entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas to continue the chain of lifting our gender out of the funding and resource rut.
Why do you think women are so underrepresented in leadership roles at companies?
Women entrepreneurs tend to be intimidated easily and give up at the first roadblock. The path to success is never an easy one and it’s these challenges and obstacles that strengthen us. I also find that it’s the woman’s own weakness to zero herself out as being weak and not good enough as her peers. A women entrepreneur should blend herself in. She has the choice to either own her stance or downgrade herself to being weak.
What changes and policies can be implemented to improve female representation in executive roles?
Women need to implement targeted in-house self-improvement and incentive campaigns. They should work with their female peers to create an atmosphere of inclusion in the work place. Leadership programs directed by these female trailblazers in the industry already can be invaluable to those women starting from the bottom, looking to work their way to the top.
Why do you believe it’s important for women to hold more leadership positions?
Leadership positions are vital for women because of the high degree of decision-making that is involved with these positions. Currently, we are leaving a lot of our innovative idea creators (women) out of the conversation of the direction of our companies. That means we are excluding 50 percent of our innovative ideas simply due to them not being heard. We need to bring these creative women into all boardrooms to join these important talks.