Randi Zuckerberg And An 8-Year-Old Girl Take On Gender And Digital Divide

By Christina Vuleta | I think it is important to challenge the notion of what an entrepreneur looks like.

By the time Randi Zuckerberg’s first child was a toddler, she was firmly entrenched in the hyper-connected world of Silicon Valley. After six years working at Facebook she was founding Zuckerberg Media and in the midst of writing Dot Complicated, a business book about our wired lives. But as a parent she was suddenly faced with a challenge that a quick Google search, app or software couldn’t solve…how to raise children in a world dominated by technology (and men running that technology). She tells Women@Forbes about this time:

I was at the center of everything tech. It was so forward-thinking on one hand and on the other hand so backwards in the lack of diversity. I wanted my son to grow up in a world where he was working for awesome women and partnering with awesome women. Here I was writing a book as a professional technologist but on the parenting front I felt like an amateur mom parenting digital kids. I thought if I feel this way I can only imagine how overwhelmed, anxious and fearful other parents are.”


As a mom of a two-year-old, these two societal tensions — our love/hate relationship with digital living and the gender divide in technology — took on greater significance for Zuckerberg. Many parents today struggle with how much is too much technology when it comes to their kids. While 62% of parents believe in technology’s power to enhance their children’s learning, 92% feel they need help navigating their kids relationship with tech. At the same time, having a boy, made Zuckerberg even more determined to address of the lack of diversity in tech. She didn’t want her son to grow up in a world where tech was still dominated by men. Today, only 24% of the STEM workforce is women and the lack of female role models is associated with the decline of female participation in science amongst girls.

Inspired to take action to close the divide, Zuckerberg created Dot, the inquisitive hero of the children’s book by the same name, which she wrote in 2013 as a playful but powerful way to share her message. Now CBC and Sprout Kids Network are introducing Dot to TV viewers. Their shared mission is to help families integrate technology into the home responsibly while empowering girls to be vocal and engaged with technology.

Dot is a curious, techie 8-year old girl who brings to life the multiple ways technology can amplify our real-life experiences. In the book Dot discovers the joy of birds tweeting and exploring in real life as a balance to the tweeting and swiping of the virtual kind. On the animated TV show she and her diverse group of friends use their their imagination to create adventures with 3D printers, robots, drones and more. As Executive Producer Zuckerberg wanted to show young people having fun with technology in ways that enhance real life play rather than replace it.

Dot’s TV premier is a continuation of Zuckerberg’s varied efforts to promote positive role models for women and girls in tech and entrepreneurship. She is also an angel investor in Oxygen’s Millennial-focused docu-series “Quit Your Day Job” on Oxygen. The show follows a Shark Tank-like format where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to an investor panel — the difference being that three of the four panelists are women as are several of those pitching. In addition to her own day job as CEO and founder of Zuckerberg Media, host of “Dot Complicated” on Sirius.XM and editor of Dot.Complicated.co, she is a frequent speaker and commentator on tech and a strong advocate for women.

“In every project I do I think it is important to challenge the notion of what an entrepreneur looks like .” Zuckerberg tells Women@Forbes. “Why shouldn’t an entrepreneur be a 70-year-old woman or a young person of color?”

By the time the girls who are watching Dot grow up, Zuckerberg foresees more women on the front-lines but believes there is still 20 years of work to put into that future. Her advice to millennial women today is to speak up to help other women sit down at the table:

“If you are the only woman in the room, use that as an opportunity to to bring other women into the room,” she says. “Don’t slam the door behind you and just be happy that you got into the room. I see so many women that say ‘I made it’ and don’t think about the opportunity that they have to open the door for others that come after them.”

She also advises women not to waste their time seeking out one mentor who is eight levels ahead: “That one pie-in-the-sky mentor can’t figure out your entire career for you. The careers we have didn’t even exist when that person was younger.” Instead she encourages women to seek out communities of women who support each each other. “I have had the most success in my career from peer mentorship – from communities like The Li.st that help each other…because like-minded people all rise together. That has been way more successful for me than any other giant mentor in the sky.”


Source: http://www.forbes.com

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