How Girls In Tech Founder Adriana Gascoigne Has Promoted Inclusivity

Girls in Tech is one of the oldest, most successful global nonprofits in gender equality, with more than 130,000 female members in 50 cities. Founder and CEO Adriana Gascoigne is pleased with DEI…

How Girls In Tech Founder Adriana Gascoigne Has Promoted Inclusivity

The nonprofit Girls in Tech offers funding, training and mentorship to over 130,000 members ... [+] globally. getty

Girls in Tech is one of the oldest and most successful global nonprofits in gender equality, with more than 130,000 female members and allies in 50 cities across 42 countries. The Girls in Tech Academy offers professional development courses, and the jobs board provides a valuable platform for women to find their next gig – which is more crucial than ever during the present era of mass layoffs in the tech industry. Since 2014, the organization's signature entrepreneurship pitch competition, the Girls in Tech Startup Challenge, has funded, mentored and supported more than 15,000 female entrepreneurs. Sponsored by McKinsey & Company, TIAA, and Nike, the startup competition invites young women to provide a pitch video no longer than five minutes in length, which explains the problem they aim to solve, their vision, value proposition, and business model for a proposed web app, mobile app or physical product. Additionally, Girls in Tech holds an annual Virtual Hackathon sponsored by Nike, McKinsey & Company, and McKesson. The series has drawn more than 100,000 participants since 2007. This year, the competition centered on providing much-needed tech solutions for the people of Ukraine. In 2022, first place was awarded to UGrant Ukraine, a platform that accelerates the funding application process for nonprofits supporting Ukrainian civilians' human rights and livelihoods. Adriana Gascoigne is the founder and CEO of Girls in Tech.Girls in Tech

Adriana Gascoigne is the founder and CEO of Girls in Tech. When she began working in tech in the early 2000s, it was, she says, 'the Wild West. I cut my teeth working at a dozen startups. From the start, the Boys Club was a problem, to say the very least. It became clear to me that the institutionalized discrimination meant my identity as a Latina woman was going to play an outsized role in my career. I made it through better than most, but that's why I started Girls in Tech in 2007 – to provide other women with the mentorship, allyship and community of peers that I'd cobbled together on my own.' Pursuing a career that has value and meaning requires an immense amount of work, Gascoigne says. However, 'seeing the ripples of change go beyond what I could have imagined on day one at Girls in Tech. Much of our content, training, mentorship and other programs apply not just to women, but to any underrepresented group seeking to advance in companies and fields that have traditionally been led by white males. We have had an impact in industries far outside tech. It's a very powerful feeling for me personally, as well as for everyone at headquarters and across our chapters.'

Girls in Tech holds an annual hackathon as well as conferences and a jobs board for tech employees. Girls in Tech Gascoigne is thrilled with the progress that has been made by women and minorities in the workplace over the years. But she feels we have yet to face our greatest challenge. 'Diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) can't just be an initiative,' she explains. 'It has to be an inherent part of what an organization does and part of a leader's mindset. Our partnership with McKinsey & Co. measured up to 19 percent higher revenues at companies that approach gender parity. But now we're fighting a mindset, one that's been cultivated over generations and generations about what a leader looks and sounds like.'

The Covid pandemic only intensified the urgency of Girls in Tech's mission. The closure of offices and schools disproportionately impacted women, who instantly took on more in terms of taking care of children and managing the household. The nonprofit conducted a study with McKinsey & Company, which revealed that 63 percent of women with male supervisors reported burnout, but the same held true for only 44 percent of women with female supervisors.

Girls in Tech pumped resources into expansion during the pandemic and saw membership swell. The nonprofit added more career development courses, continued with startup challenges and hackathons to support female entrepreneurs, and brought back the Girls in Tech Global Conference in September 2022. 'It was an amazing moment, during out 15th anniversary, to see our community come back to life with such vibrancy,' says Gascoigne. 'We already have plans to make it considerably bigger next year.'