Women Encourage Other Women to Lead and Discover Their Inner Entrepreneur

Panelists at 2016 Women's Entrepreneurship Day discuss the work of women entrepreneurs and leaders
Photo: Theresa Chong
Sowmya Subramanian, engineering director at YouTube, gives career advice to women and encourages them to try technology careers even if they don’t have a technical background.

To kick off this year’s annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED), hundreds of women gathered in San Francisco last Friday to support and celebrate the work of women entrepreneurs and leaders. More than 30 speakers, ranging from CEOs and founders to activists and authors, spoke on panels about empowering women, overcoming obstacles, and more.

“I think it’s really hard for everyone to fundraise,” says Andrea Barrica, venture partner at 500 startups, a San Francisco–based seed fund, who spoke on a panel about access to capital. “But specifically for women, it’s overcoming all the other things that make it really difficult, like impostor syndrome, because you’re not rewarded for the same kinds of behaviors.”

With an undergraduate degree in linguistics, Barrica was initially on a path toward “saving endangered languages from extinction,” until one day her old college roommate convinced her to join her startup. “A woman thought bigger for me than I thought for myself,” she says. “That really changed the trajectory of my whole life.”

When it comes to advice for new entrepreneurs, she always says, “it’s a marathon not a sprint” and to “surround yourself with positive people who can level you up and challenge you.”

Sowmya Subramanian, engineering director at YouTube, also spoke on a panel about women and technology. She says that throughout her career, although she’s very much a “science and engineering person,” she uses more of the “liberal arts, creative thinking education” that she gained in college. Subramanian is also a software developer role model at CareerGirls.org, an educational website that showcases video interviews of successful women sharing their career advice with young girls.

And, for those who are hesitant to embark on a career in technology, Subramanian says, “anyone can be in technology because technology is so [woven] into everything that we do.” What’s important is your ability to “understand user needs and creatively think about how to solve those problems and then come up with a plan of how to execute it.”

WED’s first event was hosted at the United Nations in New York City in 2014, and was celebrated throughout 144 countries.

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