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Houston named among the top cities for women in technology

Houston has been deemed the sixth best city for women in technology, according to a SmartAsset report. Christina Morillo/Pexels

Houston fell two places in SmartAsset's latest ranking of the best U.S. cities for women in technology but remains in the top 10.

SmartAsset's sixth annual study, released February 6, puts Houston at No. 6 among the top cities for women in tech. That's down from the No. 4 spot in SmartAsset's 2019 study. However, Houston still holds the No. 1 ranking among Texas cities.

"Only one of five most-populated U.S. cities — Houston — makes it into our top 15 cities for women working in the tech industry," says SmartAsset, a personal finance website.

In all, SmartAsset analyzed 59 of the largest U.S. cities to find the best places for women in tech to work and live. The website judged each city on four factors:

  • Gender pay gap in the tech industry
  • Average earnings after subtracting median costs for housing
  • Women as a percentage of the tech workforce
  • Four-year growth in tech employment

In Houston, average earnings for women in tech represented 99 percent of men's earnings in 2018, SmartAsset found. That amounts to a difference of $451. Houston also boasts the eighth highest average amount of earnings for women in tech after deducting costs for housing ($64,464), according to SmartAsset.

Furthermore, the study shows women hold down 25.8 percent of tech jobs in Houston, compared with the 59-city average of 26.1 percent.

Houston's showing in the SmartAsset study bolsters the region's amped-up efforts to evolve into a tech hub.

In April 2019, the Wall Street Journal noted those efforts were jump-started after Amazon rejected Houston as a candidate for the e-commerce giant's hotly pursued second headquarters. These initiatives include attracting startups and venture capital, and ramping up programs aimed at accelerating innovation.

"We already knew we were not in the top tier of what has been happening globally as far as innovation," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told the Wall Street Journal. "But Amazon passing us over was a real wake-up call that we could not be walking towards building this new ecosystem. We had to sprint."

Here are the top 10 cities for women in tech, according to SmartAsset:

  1. Baltimore
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Arlington, Virginia
  4. Chesapeake, Virginia
  5. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  6. Houston
  7. Long Beach, California,
  8. Chandler, Arizona
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Durham, North Carolina

In the SmartAsset study, Houston fared much better than its big-city counterparts in Texas. Fort Worth came in at No. 17, with Plano tied for 27th, San Antonio tied for 37th, Irving at No. 39, Austin at No. 49, and Dallas at No. 54 (five spots from the bottom).

To find the best cities for women in tech, SmartAsset looked at data for cities that had at least 200,000 residents in 2018. The website then removed cities that lacked reliable data, leaving a pool of 59 cities.

Findings in the SmartAsset study stand in contrast to a recent ranking by CompTIA, a tech industry trade group, of the 20 best metro areas in the U.S. for IT jobs. Austin ranked first, and Dallas appeared at No. 7. Houston didn't make the list.

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Building Houston

 
 

"There's something magical happening in Houston, and [VCs] want a piece of it." Photo via Getty Images

Houston's seen a growth in startup and venture investment — even amid the pandemic — and a group of Houston innovators sat down for a virtual event to discuss what's lead to this evolution.

The Greater Houston Partnership hosted an installment of its Houston Industry Series focused on Digital Tech on Thursday, September 24. The panel of experts, moderated by Krisha Tracy of Google Cloud, discussed how they've observed the paradigm shift that's occurred in Houston over the past few years — and why.

Missed the discussion? Here are some significant overheard moments from the virtual event.

“I think there really is an interest for venture capital here, both locally and also welcoming it from outside of Houston. … There’s something magical happening in Houston, and [VCs] want a piece of it. I think that magical piece is a renewed interest in collaborating.”

Stephanie Campbell, managing director of Houston Angel Network and co-founder of The Artemis Fund. "I think a lot [of this progress] is due to the GHP, Houston Exponential, and the founding of the HX Venture Fund to bring those venture funds to Houston to say, 'what's happening here?'" Campbell adds, saying that this connectivity and collaboration that's happening in Houston VC is unique.

“I think there’s a misconception around all we do is oil and gas and life science in Houston, but when you think about what VC-backable companies look like, they’re tech, they’re B2B SaaS, they’re highly scalable, and they don’t tend to be capital-intensive types of things we see corporate venture backing.”

Campbell says, adding "the connectivity and the interest in VC is really taking off. It's an exciting time to be in Houston and Texas in general."

“Plug and Play’s ventures team is based in Silicon Valley and one thing they enjoy about meeting Houston-based founders is valuations tend to be more reasonable than in the Bay Area."

Payal Patel, director of Plug and Play Tech Center in Houston. "There are gems to be found," she adds.

“I don’t know what it is — if it’s something in the water or just Texans being very friendly, but the investors here share deal flow. It takes a village, and I think we all understand a rising tide lifts all boats."

Patel says on the collaborative nature of Houston. "It's really magical."

“What you’re witnessing is a city that has been waiting for industrial innovation to reach the point where it can be adopted at a really high scale, and that happened around 2017.”

Jon Nordby, managing director at MassChallenge Texas in Houston. Nordby adds that MassChallenge in Houston hasn't been keen on consumer tech, or the "grilled cheese delivery apps," as he describes. "We like companies that are in love with problems, not so much in love with solutions. … We build really meaningful tech."

“Over the last year or two, we’ve seen that sleeping giant get awoken. Open and external innovation is newly adopted by more legacy industries where it wasn’t before — and that’s just created a mountain of opportunities for startups and investors alike.”

Nordby says on the shift toward this meaningful, problem-solving technology, which Houston is full of, as he observes.

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