05/02/12 | Uncategorized

VC Ben Horowitz: "The Future Of Humankind Is Dependent On Technovation Girls" (The Girl Effect)

What’s going to happen if software eats the world and all the programmers are boys?

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz talks about the importance of women in technology during a Technovation Challenge pitch event, the culminating National Technovation Pitch Night happening this Thursday night in Santa Clara.

The program inspires high school girls to be inventors, builders and entrepreneurs. Over a 10 week course, they develop a phone app and pitch their business plans to a panel of VCs and industry experts.

Starting at minute 7 of the Ben Horowitz Keynote: The future of humankind is dependent on Technovation girls:

“If you educate a girl in the developing world, you educate five people – on average. On average, five people get educated because if you educate one girl, then she will educate at least four other people through the course of her life. That’s just statistics.”

“If you educate a boy, you are lucky if you educate one person. And that’s because they’re hungry and they don’t know what to do,” he jokes. He continues, “and this shouldn’t be that surprising to us.”

Ben Horowitz continues –

“So basically, without women’s rights, without girls going to school, without girls learning things, without girls becoming part of it, then you get a lot of illiteracy and you get a lot of hungry people who don’t know what to do, and that’s a good recipe for violence. If we were to go back in time, maybe what we shouldn’t have been trying to push on the world is democracy but maybe we should have been pushed women’s rights. Maybe that was the first thing to push, and once we have women’s rights we can talk about free press and democracy once people know how to read.”

He talks about how software is eating the world and cites the industry of bookselling –

“Remember Borders? Amazon ate it. There was direct marketing, and Google ate that. There used to be hand-drawn films, and Pixar ate that. Disney had to buy Pixar to stay relevant. Recently NetFlix passed Comcast in terms of contracts, so software is eating the cable industry. Some of you may remember a company called Kodak. Another company called Fotomat. Digital photography plus Facebook has completely ate Fotomat, ate it for lunch, nobody noticed.”

More examples of software eating the world –

“Payments and cash are starting to get eaten by companies like Square and PayPal. My mobile phone ate my calculator, it ate my watch, it ate my camera, it ate my Thomas Guide, it ate my Dayrunner and like a teenage boy, it’s still hungry. So software is eating the world. And the next thing, software is going to eat education. Software is going to eat financial services. It’s continuing.

If software is eating the world, the question we have to ask ourselves – what kind of world is it going to be. And I think the answer is, the future of humankind is entirely dependent on the contestants of Technovation Challenge.

Because you see, what’s going to happen if software eats the world and all the programmers are boys. First thing, there is a shortage of programmers because boys don’t educate anybody. And guess what we have now – we have a shortage of programmers.

And so it’s so important – the work that you are doing here is so important – because the world that we live in is going to be Hobbesian or awesome and it really depends on who is building the software.

And so I’d just like to one say thank you and two to close, with a quote from the great philosopher slash rapper Drake – and I say ‘I know things get hard but girl you got it, girl you got it, there you go’ and all I can say is ‘I’m so proud of you.”

The top 11 Technovation Challenge teams from New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles high schools will compete on Thursday, May 3 at the National Pitch Night for Technovation Challenge in Santa Clara, CA.

You can attend the pitch night – FREE RSVP here – see you there! I can’t wait to see what the great minds of tomorrow are percolating today.

Photo credit: Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences website.

Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the “+1” for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.

Anne-Gail Moreland

Anne-Gail Moreland

Anne-Gail Moreland, an intern with Women 2.0, was on the StartupBus. She studies neuroscience at Mount Holyoke College, where she is trying to merge a passion for tech and the brain into a new wave of cognition-based technology

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