Venture Capital in Education
Yesterday I attended the Venture Capital in Education Summit. My friend is, Diana Rhoten is the co-founder and managing director of Startl.org. She and her partners at Startl were behind this summit which is why I was there. I am also going to be involved with Startl.org in some capacity down the line and am very interested in this particular space. Have always had an interest in education which is why I am still involved with MOUSE.org.
Education has been a very woman centric career choice over the years. Particularly when it was one of the only choices years ago. I want to say business instead of career choice and in many ways that is one of the biggest problems in education. It is not thought of as a business but it should be. The group of people in the room are interested in changing all that. Making education a business with rewards for actually graduating kids instead of just having them show up. There is a lot more to it but that is the very basis.
One of the first things that hit me when I walked into the room were the slew of black and navy suits. I'd say that 90% of the audience yesterday was men. Is it because they are seeking an opportunity in education, that they care about changing education or because the majority of the companies seem to be more tech centric and they are mostly men. I am not sure I know the answer but I did have a conversation about it with a few women I did know at the conference.
But lets go back to the conference. The idea here is to make major changes in a field that needs to think and teach differently. The concept of sitting in a classroom, listening to someone attempt to teach the basics for 8 hours, just isn't working for the majority of kids. There are also many lousy teachers out there that the system can't get rid of. People drop out because we don't engage them. Technology allows kids to learn at all different levels and be challenged to their ability. People across the world can teach to someone thousands of miles away. There needs to be a serious shake-up. Seeing so many companies trying to make those changes is inspiring and certainly a relief.
Startl.org is creating a space where companies can incubate using technology to hopefully make some meaningful progress in this field. Who is going to transform the industry across the globe more than likely it will be the 20 year olds coming out of college that understand how to incorporate technology into the world they just left. Time will tell but certainly now is the time.
Back to the room of men. I would hope that through technology more and more women will be able to create ideal situations for themselves to work in areas differently vs the classic 9-5 situation. The area of education is an ideal area for women to enter from a business perspective as regardless of being a mother or not there is generally a maternal element to a woman's personality. Perhaps that is why education was the original stomping ground for women who first entered the work place. The more women I speak to feel like I do. We are lone cowboys spending time in organizations or talking to businesses without having someone to bounce those ideas and concepts off of. Maybe there are more women than I realize who are in the field but are in their homes trying to make changes. Who knows.
I hope next year at the Summit I will walk into a room and see a lot more colorful dresses, skirts, blouses and suits and even a few high heels.