When Jennifer Shaw went to her first NY Tech Meetup, a 25,000 member non-profit organization that supports the growing New York technology community, she felt displaced. While several thousand of the members, the managing director Jessica Lawrence and the NYTM’s co-founder Dawn Barber are all women, she felt that she wanted to know people at the event before she got there, and she felt like some other women might feel the same way.
“I think that every entrepreneur has several failure stories, day in and day out. We’ve had small minor setbacks where an event didn’t go well or we actually got crashed a couple of times by some. Literally, they crashed the party.”Jennifer Shaw
So she co-founded NY Tech Women with her partner Jovena Whatmoor with this interesting premise: a small meetup that is actually a pre-event for tech women who already have their NYTM tickets. They get together in a bar to discuss tech, get to know each other, and then walk in a group to the much larger event.
“It came about because I really needed an outlet. I have a history of consumer analysis in consumer technology, video games, and software wireless. I was just sitting at work and I said, ‘I really wish I had somebody else to talk to about these types of technologies. I actually did what everybody does: went on Google and said, ‘Hey what’s up?’ I just knew that there had to be something else. The idea was to meet other tech women so that you could attend other tech events together.
“The first event I went to that made it not right for me, was all filled with men. Which is fine, I’m not upset about men. But when I approached them it definitely seemed like there was some sort of clique going on. I was like, that’s fine, boys will be boys and they can do what they’re going to do. But then I started to approach the women in the room who seemed almost as cliquey and caddy as the men. I come with a really nice mid-western background where you’re nice to everyone, regardless. It just didn’t seem like it was exactly the perfect fit for me.
Going to a room full of men is intimidating, and I think that women get even more competitive. It feels even more intense when there are few women in a room full of men. Competition is one thing and rather than competing, I wanted to create a group that was just warm and welcoming, regardless.