Will 2012 Be The Year of [Women in] Mobile?

by Cathy Boyle

in Featured Posts,Mobile Women,Slider

For several years now, we’ve heard the proclamation that the burgeoning new year is destined to be the “year of mobile.”  This year is different, however.   People are tacking a few words onto the nearly cliched proclamation.  So far, I’ve seen The Year of Mobile Data, The Year of Mobile Email, The Year of Mobile Malware and a few others.

Women in Wireless Logo, Mobile Business Organization

Women In Wireless, Developing Women Leaders in Mobile & Digital Media

While some are narrowing their focus to niche areas, the leadership team of Women in Wireless (WiW) would like to broaden the 2012 perspective on mobile instead.

Their goal for 2012  is to increase the number of women in executive and C-level positions at start-up and established mobile companies so women have greater influence on the direction taken in mobile advertising, mobile marketing, media, commerce, philanthropy and all other areas leveraging mobile devices. Considering the long-standing disparity between women and men across the computing industry as a whole, the challenge is significant.  According to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 25% of the US computing workforce is women (2009).

Changing the Face of Mobile

For a non-profit organization with only one year under its belt, WiW has made significant accomplishments.  In 2011 they expanded their community from 700 to 3,000 members, conducted more than a dozen networking events and ran several low-fee training/development programs.

I recently had the pleasure to chat with Veronica Sonsev, CEO of inSparq and co-founder of WiW, and she gave me this sneak peek into their plans for 2012:

  • Membership will remain free
  • Education and networking programs will be expanded to new cities
  • Local chapters will open in San Francisco and London
  • An individualized mentoring program that was test-piloted in New York City in 2011 will be expanded to more members in New York and launched in San Francisco.

The newest endeavor — and one Veronika seemed very excited about — is an accelerator program for mobile start-ups with women founders or co-founders.  The program will provide the following assistance to 2 to 5 start-ups selected from an application process that closes February 1.

  • Free New York office space
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Access to venture capitalists and other investors
  • $18,000 in seed funding
  • $10,000 worth of product development and design support
  • $10,000 worth of mobile marketing promotions.

How Will Success Be Measured?

Veronika Sonsev and 4 other WiW leaders name in Mobile Marketer’s list of “Mobile Women To Watch in 2012”

According to Veronika, the organization will launch 2 member surveys in 2012.  One survey will benchmark the percentage of members in leadership roles against the national industry average (approximately 14%) and  the second will monitor changes that occur as a result of the WiW programs provided.  “The surveys,” Veronika explains, “will help us quantify our results and gauge our impact.”  In addition to quantifying results, the group aims to increase its membership to 10,000 and have 10 local chapters up and running by year’s end

With an all-volunteer leadership committee and aggressive plans to expand their membership and programs in 2012, the group is actively seeking new volunteers.  Anyone (including men) that supports the organization’s mission to advance the leadership roles of women in the wireless industry is welcome to join.  “Even though we’re an all-volunteer organization,” Veronika explains, “there are big rewards for getting involved.  People who join the committees run by our leadership team members are informally mentored and anyone that volunteers will build a stronger and bigger network.”

In twelve month’s time we’ll all know whether 2012 is The Year of Women in Mobile.  In the meantime, the leaders of Women in Wireless — five of which were named by Mobile Marketer as “Mobile Women to Watch in 2012” (including Veronika Sonsev) — will continue to serve as role models of female leadership in the mobile industry.

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