As cofounder of Rad Campaign, which helps nonprofits and political campaigns communicate their messages on the Web, Allyson Kapin has worked with the Save Darfur Coalition, the American Immigration Council, and the States for a Transparent and Accountable Recovery Coalition. Three years ago, she decided she’d also stand up for women fighting for their place in the technology industry.
Kapin founded Women Who Tech, which encourages collaboration and community among women in tech by hosting annual telesummits and webinars throughout the year. She encourages women to be more aggressive about promoting themselves, and in 2009, she did just that: She petitioned Tim O’Reilly–via Twitter, no less–to include more women at the Web 2.0 Summit. She got serious results at their next event–the first round of panels at the Government 2.0 Expo was 50% women, she says. She also took on Yahoo for having lap dances at company events, for which the company later apologized. “We can’t be so afraid to have these conversations publicly,” she says.
Kapin encourages women in the field to serve as mentors to others. “Even if you’re not a leader in the space, if you’re doing something as simple as starting a listserv, don’t make it exclusive–open it up. If you’re having networking events, make them open,” she says. “It’s so tiresome to continue seeing this exclusivity in technology and social media. If we want to see creativity and innovation, we need diverse perspectives.”