Techcrunch Disrupt has been known as an all male bro fest. In 2013, the Disrupt conference made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. From two techies pitching a photo-sharing app called Titstare (you read that right), to another pretending to masturbate onstage, Disrupt received negative reviews to say the least.
This year (thankfully), things were alot different, and more diverse. Speakers at this year’s conference included Google executive Diane Greene and robotics pioneer Melonee Wise. In addition, a panel discussion on startup opportunities in women’s health took place. According to the SF Chronicle, "Clue founder Ida Tin pitched a birth-control app that uses menstruation data. She was joined by Fertility IQ founder Deborah Anderson-Bialis and Naya Health founder Janica Alvarez, who described a smart breast pump. Mamava, a Vermont startup which makes compact pods where nursing mothers can pump in privacy, set up a lactation booth at the conference.“
Sam O’Keefe, TechCrunch editor, and leader of the TechCrunch Include initiative (an effort to promote diversity at TechCrunch events and in the broader community), gave free tables in Startup Alley to non-profit organizations and hosted an estimated 50 minority students. With current solutions for emerging companies and industries, Techcrunch is now looking to grow funding opportunities for women and underrepresented ethnicities. According to Wise, Silicon Valley is the "Holy Land’ for women in technology when compared to the Midwest, and she would like to see more female led companies receive investment.
Although inclusion is not perfect, O’Keefe admits it has gotten better. Opening up more doors and opportunities for women and minority startups are key, and 2016 is a good first step.