Earlier this month, Women 2.0 held its first Oakland meet-up, initiating Oakland as the fifteenth city worldwide where the women-in-tech platform holds its monthly networking events. The back conference room at Pandora’s headquarters, where the meet-up was held, was packed. Unsurprisingly, the attendees were mostly women, but a number of men were also present, some of whom were representing the Kapor Center for Social Impact, one of Women 2.0’s partners for the Oakland event.
After the crowd had engaged in some preliminary networking, food-munching and wine-sipping, founder and CEO Shaherose Charania kicked things off with a spirited talk on the importance of diversity in tech and the origins of Women 2.0. Initially a simple series of wine-and-cheese networking gatherings in women’s private apartments, the concept eventually became a serious full-time venture that is now providing online content, virtual and in-person events, conferences, and a job board to an international community of women.
The kind of community Women 2.0 provides is vital for combating gender-based workplace injustices, according to Nicole Sanchez, Managing Partner of Kapor Center for Social Impact, who was next to take the stage. After being abruptly fired from an important job due to the birth of her child, Sanchez says that she was disillusioned for a while with the tech world and its gender-related biases. The times, however, are changing, and Kapor is on the forefront of challenging misguided preconceptions in the industry.
“This thing is on,” Sanchez said, to great applause. “There is no putting this toothpaste back in the tube. We are diversifying tech, and Oakland is ground zero.”
“This is very special,” agreed CEO and founder of Pathbrite Heather Hiles, the last to take the mic.
Hiles shared the story of her career path, the nature of her relationship with her white male investors, and words of advice for other women and people of color seeking to make inroads in tech entrepreneurship. “Life is a marathon — a StairMaster,” Hiles said, while making it clear that she relished both the challenge of surmounting obstacles and the opportunity to be a resource to other women attempting to do the same.
Hiles responded to a few questions from the meet-up attendees, and then the networking, food-munching, and wine-sipping started up again, as new connections were forged between the women of Oakland’s burgeoning tech community.
To track future Women 2.0 meetups in Oakland, just keep an eye on this site. The next one’s coming up June 5th!