Believe in Yourself! – Reflections of Carina Glover

Women have played a pivotal role in advancing the frontiers of technological development since the beginning. In fact, the first programmers and even computers – “human computers”- were women assigned the “tedium” of complex data analyses by men positioned in the “more prestigious” roles of discovery and oversight. Were it not for the breakthroughs and…

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Women have played a pivotal role in advancing the frontiers of technological development since the beginning. In fact, the first programmers and even computers – “human computers”- were women assigned the “tedium” of complex data analyses by men positioned in the “more prestigious” roles of discovery and oversight. Were it not for the breakthroughs and contributions made by these women, technology as we know it – computers, the internet, space travel – may not have existed. Nevertheless, when the significance of all their “busywork” was realized, these female pioneers were soon consigned to the shadows cast by male counterparts asserting claim to the limelight.

Today, a field launched by women largely excludes them (National Center for Women &Technology, NCWIT). Even more perplexing is the pervasive notion that the female constitution is not well-suited to technological pursuits. This view, accepted by many in tech circles dominated by men who capitalize on the foundational work of such women as Ada Lovelace, Wilhelmina Flemming, Katherine Johnson, Grace Hopper, Mary G. Ross, Radia Perlman, Annie Easley, the women of ENIAC and the numerous other female founders of modern technology who have been relegated to obscurity, was recently exposed in the now infamous Google memo.

Unfortunately, many beyond the tech hubs also subscribe to this misconception.

Though over 58% of the population of civilian workers are female, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, they occupy a disproportionate number of tech jobs. Only 25% of available computing-related occupations are held by women. Less than 10% are held by women of color. A 2016 NCWIT report on Women in Tech indicates these numbers have been in steady decline since 1991. Technology historian, Mar Hicks warns in her research on the exclusion of women from the British tech sector, of the grave economic risks facing the U.S. if such a circumstance were to prevail here.

According to the Census, by 2060, a majority of the female-identified population in the U.S will be from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, Intel researcher, Dr. Genevieve Bell reported in 2012, that women are “the lead users and adopters of new technology”. However, the preponderance of white males in the sector, from investors to inventors, suggests that this growing market of women is not likely being catered to. The resulting bias from a homogenous system may have a dire effect not only on the industry but also on society when most products and services being developed alienate over 50% of the market.

The coordinated efforts of all stakeholders to increase inclusivity and the respect of women at all levels in tech would be the most effective way to address this deficiency. Increasing the representation of women in tech may encourage an atmosphere of belonging and acceptance leading to a reduction in female attrition. Recognizing those at the highest levels of leadership will inspire others to believe in their own potential to achieve thus draw more females to the field. Tech entrepreneurship – women building companies to deliver technology products and services that consider women too – may be an option that is increasingly pursued. Many women currently in rare tech positions of influence are supporting and sponsoring aspiring peers towards this purpose.

Omaha-native, Carina Glover, can speak to the value of such sponsorship. She credits, Erica Wassinger, the female co-founder of The Startup Collaborative (TSC), an accelerator program of the Greater Omaha Chamber, for successfully guiding her down a path she never envisioned taking (especially on her own, considering her limited experience in tech) towards turning a basic idea for an app into the tech company she runs today.

Glover is the founder and CEO of HerHeadquarters, a collaborating app exclusive to women entrepreneurs and freelancers within the Fashion, Beauty, Entertainment, Events, and Public Relations industries. The idea for an app that could better facilitate the efforts of female founders/owners to form business partnerships with each other, encouraging a sisterhood of support, was derived from Glover’s experiences running an event planning business of her own. She observed women challenged in their search for relevant connections and collaborative networks. So, in 2017 she began to work on HerHeadquarters. A little over a year later, in the Spring of 2019 she launched the app in four major cities – Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, and Omaha. This Fall, Houston and San Francisco were also included.

Silicon Prairie News recently had an opportunity to chat with Glover about her newfound experiences as a tech entrepreneur. Here are some insights that she generously shared with us regarding her journey.  Below is an account of this conversation with Glover.

Becoming an entrepreneur

In college, I majored in PR and advertising and was required to complete a 6-month internship before graduating. I applied for different internships in event planning that I was very interested in pursuing. But I could not find a placement, an experience so foreign to me. I had never had a problem finding a job before. Another classmate ended up getting the internship that I had applied for and was planning to quit after the six-month mark. She had no intention of continuing to work at the business. She was just fulfilling graduation requirements. I felt really frustrated and began to feel down – wondering how I could have interviewed so poorly that they didn’t even see my value and genuine interest, yet they saw value in someone else who really didn’t even care as I did about the opportunity. I applied for more jobs and kept getting denials. That experience caused my perspective to change. I realized that I was waiting on others to validate me and tell me that I was good enough, when I knew already that I could do the work and that I was good at it. So, during my senior year of college, I just decided that I was going to start my own event planning business. I don’t have to wait for someone else to give me that opportunity.

How HerHeadquarters was conceived

My toughest lesson as an entrepreneur came on the first day. I experienced devastation when not one single person showed up to my business’ launch party in 2014 for my then event planning business. I made the mistake of thinking that I would be viewed as more ‘successful’ if I did everything alone. While my event planning business eventually saw success, that lesson stuck with me as my passion for catering to women began to skyrocket. The more I worked with female founders and business owners over the years, the more I noticed that women were open to partnering with one another, but that process often came with various struggles. I reached a point where I wanted to do something bigger and more impactful, one random night everything came to me so clearly and suddenly. I wanted to change the image of women who build businesses through collaborations, to show them as bold and powerful, while also making the process of securing quality local and national collaborations easier and more rewarding.

My background and journey in event planning were ultimately stepping stones into a bigger purpose and calling. In late 2017, the idea of HerHeadquarters came to me and I was immediately committed to building the company. Within a couple months, I was accepted into The Startup Collaborative, a startup accelerator program for entrepreneurs in tech run by Erica Wassinger. She was my first investor. Her guidance has been key to my success.

When HerHeadquarters was in its infancy, just this idea, she immediately understood my vision to help other female entrepreneurs secure great partnerships for their companies. She saw potential while others just saw another female with a useless app. I don’t think many men understand the importance of this app. I almost feel as though I will only get additional support from angel investors and VC firms led by women who intentionally target women led companies and understand our perspectives.

After months of research, conducting focus groups, surveys, and interviews, talking to women all over the country, HerHeadquarters had a prototype ready by the end of summer 2018. In the spring of 2019, I launched the company with the release of the HerHeadquarters app in several major cities. I already see how this product is helping women all over the country. I never forget that it’s bigger than me.

Continued work in support of female entrepreneurs

Now I’m building the first tech and media company that exclusively caters to women entrepreneurs. I plan to grow HerHeadquarters into a global brand that changes the narrative and perspective of women entrepreneurs, specifically those who use brand partnerships to scale their businesses. This work is monumental to me because I’ve seen women experience the consequences of not collaborating and I’ve also seen women entrepreneurs build empires based on a foundation that strong brand partnerships help build. I’ve seen the impact repeatedly, I know how valuable they are. A key piece to our company is also changing the narrative and perspective of women entrepreneurs who collaborate as well. Often, when we hear of companies like Nike, Uber, and American Airlines participating in partnerships we think ‘goals’, they’re admired, yet the partnerships of women who are building and running businesses are not viewed in the same light. There’s this perception that their collaborations are minor or it’s because they’re struggling and need the partnership. There’s an opportunity for society to do better in how they respect and value women entrepreneurs and the businesses they’re building.

Short-term goals

I really look forward to us having our own HerHeadquarters office. Like most startups in the early stages, our office varies from a living room, coffee shop, and wherever else we can get a good Wi-Fi signal. While there are many milestones ahead for us to reach, that’s one that I’m excited about. It will be our own team workplace where we can continue growing the company and building strong team dynamics.

No regrets

People are really good at underestimating their own power and abilities. In society, women often do this. We wait for someone else to promote us for us to advance. They have to think we’re doing well. We’re always waiting for someone else to put us in a position of power, to elevate us. I think that we really need to realize the power that we already have and stop holding ourselves back. We have to realize that an idea is enough and that the passion we have right now for this idea is enough and just pursue it.

I have never met a single person who regretted trying, but I have met many who regretted not trying. You may not have all the money you need right now, you don’t have a plan all laid out. All you need is a desire for something better for yourself and a commitment to make it happen. Most important is to have a belief in yourself that you can do it. Start with what you have. When the idea of HerHeadquarters came to me, I didn’t have anything planned. I did not have the skill sets to develop this product. I did not have the resources nor finances. I had no idea where to even start. I didn’t have the people in my network. I had nothing but my idea, but I also had confidence that I could work to make it happen.

I recently interviewed some ladies for internship positions at HerHeadquarters. One of the applicants was hesitating because she did not have a lot of experience. I told her that all she needed to work on my team is confidence. By society’s standards, if you were to look at my experience on my resume, I would not be considered qualified to be the owner of a tech company. If I were not already the head of HerHeadquarters and the position became open to be CEO, I would not get the position. Yet here I am. We need to stop disqualifying ourselves as women. We just need to believe that even with the little we have, we can do it and make it happen. It’s going to be hard, but the journey is worth it if you persist.

Reflecting on the journey

The only thing I’d do differently is not be so hard on myself. I’d remind myself often that I’m new to this, that I’m learning, and that I’m doing great. There were a few milestones I reached during the days of building the product before we launched that I didn’t fully enjoy because I was being so hard on myself. I’d allow myself to enjoy the journey more.

Support from the SPN community

I’d love to be connected to more potential users. We target women entrepreneurs who own businesses within the fashion, beauty, entertainment, events, and PR industries. We’re also looking to bring on a project development manager who can oversee the design, development, and growth of the app. Lastly, any introductions to potential angel investors who would be interested in learning more about HerHeadquarters and joining our journey at this stage would be appreciated. More information about Carina Glover and HerHeadquarters can be found at www.herheadquarters.app.

 

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