Silicon Valley: Wasteland for women, really?

Good to see the New York Times taking on the issue of Women in Silicon Valley (Why so few?!) on the front page of its business section on Sunday.

The story was interesting and full of eye-opening stats: Women own 40% of the private businesses in the U.S., for example, but they create only 8% of venture-backed tech start-ups.

My quibble with the story is that it failed to point out the remarkable female execs who are building start-ups–even if they didn’t found them. Front and center is Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, who emailed me this morning. Women, Sandberg noted, tend to be as good at risk-taking as men when doing a deal or building a product. But when it comes to their own careers, they’re often more risk-averse. That tendency, of course, limits their entrepreneurialism.

Then there’s Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, who was one of the most senior women at Google and left a year ago because, she told me, she’s an entrepreneur at heart. She didn’t create Polyvore–a guy did. But she recently moved to the fashion start-up as CEO and is charged with building it.

I’m not denying the problem–Silicon Valley needs more women venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who can be role models. But don’t think that there are few female pioneers eager to impart their wisdom and inspire the next generation. The story I wrote in Fortune‘s 2008 Most Powerful Women issue illustrates the eagerness of this generation of women leaders in tech to bring the next gen along.

And if you’re keen on the topic, here are a few related Guest Posts that we’ve published on Postcards:

Sheryl Sandberg’s  “Don’t leave before you leave” is a provocative and smart take on women and make-or-break career choices.

Theresia Ranzetta’s “Rx for Silicon Valley success” offers advice from an Accel PartnersVC who puts big money behind women-led ventures.

And Sukinder Singh Cassidy’s “Career advice from a Google vet” lays out 10 guidelines. Hey guys, it’s useful for you too.

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