Portrait: Elisa Miller-Out, co-founder of PollQ and COO of Women 2.0

Why women fall out of the tech pipeline

Gabriela Motroc

Hands of woman image via Shutterstock

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Elisa Miller-Out, co-founder of PollQ and COO of Women 2.0.

Is tech a boys-only club? So it seems. But the light of smart and powerful women is finally shining bright. We root for excellence and justice and, above all, we want meritocracy to win. This is our way of giving women in tech a shout-out.

A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Women in Tech — The Survey

We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!

Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.

Without further ado, we would like to introduce Elisa Miller-Out, co-founder of PollQ and COO of Women 2.0.

Elisa Miller-Out, co-founder of PollQ and COO of Women 2.0

Elisa Miller-Out is currently co-founder of PollQ, a polling software startup and COO of Women 2.0, the leading global media brand for women in tech. She’s also managing partner of Chloe Capital, an early stage investment fund. She’s based in Ithaca, NY, but grew up in New Orleans and spent time in New York City as well.

Elisa recently had a successful exit from Singlebrook, a custom software services firm that she co-founded and ran for 10 years. Singlebrook is a certified B Corp and has fortune 500, higher education and nonprofit clients from all over the world including Cornell, Yale, Henry Schein, Hitachi, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and more. Prior to founding Singlebrook, Elisa founded two other companies and worked in a variety of industries in New York City. She also founded several networking groups and regularly serves as a mentor and judge for startup accelerators and competitions. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College of Columbia University. 

She has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Forbes and other publications and she speaks about technology and entrepreneurship at events across the United States.

Elisa had a lot of friends who were interested in tech when she was in high school. She hung out with the science fiction club and it was a pretty nerdy group. (That was before it was actually cool to be a nerd.) She ended up marrying a programmer and they started a company together.

She learned what she needed to know as she went along by being immersed in it.

She had a Generation Flux path in which she started multiple different businesses and worked in many different fields. She has started five companies all together at this point. Entrepreneurship is the one through-line in her career. She’s always been an entrepreneur. There have been a number of different obstacles along the way, mostly around building the right teams.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“My family has lots of artists, musicians and scientists, so I followed a rather unusual, unexpected path by becoming an entrepreneur. My family and friends have always been supportive of my choices though. My grandma was one of my role models. She was a doctor and research scientist, who was one of the few women who attended Cornell Medical School during her era. She was born in 1913 and there weren’t many working women in STEM back then, so she was definitely a pioneer.”

Elisa Miller-Out: Entrepreneur. Investor. Community Builder. Mom.

She is working on three startups at the moment:

  1. PollQ, a polling tool on Messenger’s bot platform for higher ed, groups and market research.
  2. Women 2.0, a leading media brand focused on women in tech — an existing brand that’s under new leadership.
  3. Chloe Capital, an early stage investment fund focused on women tech entrepreneurs.

When it comes to the Women in Tech discussion, Elisa believes that…

There are so many reasons why women fall out of the tech pipeline at all stages starting from the ways in which they’re socialized as children, the disparities in experience and training leading up to college and leading up to the ways they experience loneliness and conscious and unconscious bias as adults. A great documentary that explores this topic is CODE Documentary: Debugging the Gender Gap.

Not having peers is a big challenge. Many women don’t stick around at tech companies because they’re often the only woman in the room

The world would be better for everyone if more women worked in STEM. The data shows that diverse teams perform better. In some cases not having different perspectives at the table can be a matter of life or death. The crash dummy story is a good example why it’s important to have women’s voices at all levels. Although progress is happening, the needle is moving slowly. It could easily take another 10 – 20 years before we see significant results. 

Reading material

There are some excellent books out there by women in tech. Also, check out J. Kelly Hoey’s book on networking and Jenny Kassan’s book on funding that is coming out this fall. That’s a good place to start!


Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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