(Photo: Obie Felton of Google.com at Women 2.0 2014 SF)
Ask has always supported women in technology – in fact, approximately 50% of managers here at Ask are women, a rarity among tech companies. Ann Semeraro, Senior Director of Consumer and Market Insights at Ask.com, attended the recent Women 2.0 conference in San Francisco and gives us a quick run-down of the conference highlights and some key takeaways.
Q: What was the overarching theme of the conference?
Ann: Women 2.0’s mission has always been to increase the representation of women in tech companies, especially at the executive level, and to increase the number of women who are founding their own companies. This year’s conference really honed in on the experiences women have founding their own companies and women who are actually a part of the investment stage of companies – either for their own companies or as part of VCs. While women founding their own companies has been happening for years, we’re now seeing an increased number of women participating on the investment side of the equation.
Q: What was your favorite session to attend?
Ann: I really enjoyed the talk Obie Felton gave about Google [X]. She spoke about how Google starts out by identifying big problems that affect millions of people, and then tries to solve for these issues using radical, almost unrealistic solutions. The group believes that by starting with the story they want to tell, they can then use those narratives to inspire their engineers and teams to conceptualize the solution, refining their ideas into something tangible.
Q: Who attended the conference?
Ann: There were many young women, early in their careers and some who were even in college! That was really refreshing to see the younger generations seeing the benefit of these types of conferences and making connections with today’s leading women. There was a mantra throughout the conference, “Give and get”, to help attendees get the most out of the sessions and the event. The thinking is to both give and get something out of each interaction. Give some information about yourself that would be helpful to who you’re talking to. Give an introduction connecting two women who might benefit from meeting one another. And get a new connection for yourself. Get information on the next event that suits your goals. Get a new mentor! This mantra is one that any women can apply to networking events, their own jobs and in other aspects of their lives.
Q: What was the key takeaway for you and for Ask?
Ann: It was great to get outside of our own company and hear how tech is being used to solve problems in different industries—healthcare, education, travel, etc. And it was inspiring to hear about the ideas and innovation being circulated through this network of WOMEN. The importance of having mentors and collaborating was emphasized throughout the conference. For Ask, we’ll definitely be looking for ways to get more of our younger and junior female employees to attend these types of events.