February 4, 2015 – AMNEWYORK

City College is starting an intensive program Thursday that organizers say will help close the gender gap in the tech industry.

The Women Entrepreneurs Program will foster seven startups that are led by women and give them training on how to enhance their product, as well as the opportunity to pitch it for a $30,000 grand prize.

Lindsay Siegel, executive director of the Zahn Innovation Center at City College, said she and the program’s sponsor Standard Chartered Bank saw the need for more women tech professionals and derived a curriculum to that end.

The new Standard Chartered space at Zahn Innovation Center at City College. (Credit: Standard Chartered)

The new Standard Chartered space at Zahn Innovation Center at City College. (Credit: Standard Chartered)

A report released in July by Silicon Valley Bank found that just 38% of New York’s tech companies have women in executive leadership positions. At the same time, tech-related jobs are on the rise in the Big Apple and account for more than 12.6% of the city’s workforce, employing 300,000 people, according to the mayor’s office.

Todd Schofield, Managing Director, SC Studios, Standard Chartered, helped judge the applicants and said the finalists offer valuable ideas. The Le Sel Foundation, for example, is working on advancing the salt market in Haiti, while the “Smart Knee’d Brace” team plans on designing a device that detects ACL tears and gives athletes early warnings.

“If it is something that was going to be novel and they had a new approach, we took them,” Schoenfeld said of the applicants.

Siegel said the teams, which include at least two members associated with City College, will go through rigorous training from tech and business experts on how to successfully develop, market and deploy their products or apps. They will then give a presentation in the end April to a panel of judges who will award the prize.

“They will designing something that once they build a prototype there will be a market for

[the product],” she said.

Siegel said she is confident that the inequality in the industry will dissipate quickly once the public sees the success of the ideas that women entrepreneurs bring to the world.

“There is a recognition that this imbalance is present and they want to find women who can lead,” she said. “We’re hoping to learn from their experience as we move forward.”

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