Women’s Work – Elizabeth Carlassare’s www.dotcomdivas.net

Women’s Work – Elizabeth Carlassare’s www.dotcomdivas.net

Elizabeth Carlassare is an author and an advocate for women in technology. Her Web site, www.dotcomdivas.net, offers an open forum for female Internet entrepreneurs. We talked with Carlassare about the obstacles facing women in the new economy and the communications industry overall.

On women’s struggles in high-tech: “The biggest barrier is access to capital. Last year, 7% of the venture capital pie went to women founders, which is a huge improvement over 1995, when it was only around 3%. The problem is that, historically, women have not been plugged in to the funding network – they’ve never known how to approach VCs and how to talk that talk. The upside is that it has been getting better, and it’s a trend I see continuing. Each year women will be slightly more effective, and as there are more women out there in leadership roles, there will be more mentorship and more role models. Part of my goal with the dotcomdivas site was to put role models out there. Seeing people like you makes it seem not so far-fetched.”

On the scarcity of women in technology: “There are people who have talked to girls in schools about technology, and it’s come up that the ‘Dilbert’ cartoon has turned some girls off – the nerd stereotype. They think programming is boring. There have been statistics showing a recent decline in computer science graduates. I don’t know what explains that drop, but clearly more work needs to be done to expose young people to technology. No matter what, we’ve still a long way to go until 50% of the people in this industry are women.”

On the start-up culture: “There was a recent VentureOne report that said only 9% of start-ups were able to raise Series B funding in the last quarter. It’s an extremely painful, tough time. But going forward, the pain will shift into normalcy, and investing will be more like it was before the dotcom boom with more criteria applied to funding. Whenever an entrepreneur has an idea for a breakthrough technology, it will still get funded in good times or bad. This current shakeout is painful, but it’s necessary, and we’ll be better off in the long run.”

On what’s next: “My dream would be to see 52% of the people in communications be women. We’re going in that direction. Every year, there are more women in executive positions, more entering the field and more starting their own companies. Based on the last U.S. census, women are starting businesses at a rate three times the national average. More than ever, it’s a truly viable career alternative.”

DOSSIER ELIZABETH CARLASSARE

Occupation: Speaker and writer; author of “DotCom Divas: E-Business Insights from the Visionary Women Founders of 20 Net Ventures”

Place of residence: Santa Cruz, Calif.

Current reading: “The Jewish Phenomenon: Seven Keys to the Enduring Wealth of a People” by Steven Silbiger; “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” by Joseph J. Ellis

Favorite Web site: mail.yahoo.com

Hobby: Salsa dancing

Next project: A book about women and their relationship to wealth and money. “I’m also putting aluminum siding on my house.”

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