THEY are some of the most powerful women in the tech industry – but even they are split on the issue of gender quotas, not knowing whether they are a help or a hindrance in shattering the glass ceiling.
A major inaugural Female Founders Forum discussing the benefits of investing in female-led start-ups heard that Ireland could become a global leader by involving more women in the tech sector.
Over 250 people – including a smattering of men – attended the event, which was a complete sell-out, with Global Invest Her founder Anne Ravanona, Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon and Dr Helen McBreen, venture leader at the National Development Research Centre among the panel of experts.
Organiser Ann O'Dea, CEO of Silicon Republic, explained that she had decided to hold the event because of the lack of focus on women in the tech industry.
The keynote speaker was Julia Hartz, founder of $1bn online ticketing service Eventbrite, where workers can also work around their personal needs by signing up for the shifts they want to work.
"It could be game-changing for Eventbrite because our customer satisfaction has sky rocketed," she said.
Ms Ravanona said women "need to stop holding ourselves back" and take their place. While she was "not particularly in favour of quotas, she liked what quotas did", adding that they could be a temporary step-up for women until the current imbalance evened out.
She warned that the biggest challenge was not having enough women going through higher studies in crucial "STEM" areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.