Inside the Silicon Valley Gender Gap

Education and culture both explain why women aren't at the top of the tech world.

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Bradshaw agrees. "I also want to be considered someone you would introduce to your male network, because I believe men have more access and more power. And as long as you keep introducing me to women, we're going to keep reinforcing that."

It's not just about making a few friends in the tech sector, says Harris; networking is especially important in what she calls "the frenetic startup culture," where happy hours are often where an entrepreneur can meet her angel investor.

Getting funding from those investors can mean some particularly hard selling for a woman. "There's a pejorative term in venture capital: 'lifestyle business,' because the business supports a very nice lifestyle for a small group of people, but they'll never become the next Facebook," says Minshew. "Women have to work doubly or triply hard to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that they're not building a lifestyle business but that they're building something of tremendous size and value."

Twitter: @titonka

Corrected on 4/16/2012: In an earlier version of this article, JESS3's Leslie Bradshaw mischaracterized DjangoCon as having a sexist atmosphere. She intended to refer to JSConf.