The expansion of meetup groups in New Jersey's burgeoning tech sector is about more than geography. It's also about gender.
New Jersey Tech Gals, an offshoot of the New Jersey Tech Meetup, launched in January, the brainchild of two female entrepreneurs with tech startups of their own.
“There's few women in this industry,” said Christine Curatolo, who founded the group with Sarah Himmelbaum. “Just putting all those women in the same room together, some cool things have already happened.”
Curatolo studied fashion merchandising at the University of Delaware and taught herself how to build a website when she came up with Jumblzar, an online marketplace for moms to buy and sell new and used children's items that she launched earlier this year.
When she needed help expanding her site, she turned to New Jersey Tech Meetup, but very few of the other entrepreneurs were women. Curatolo and Himmelbaum wanted Tech Gals to fill that void, providing an outlet for women to share their experiences and get the support they need to advance their businesses. Around 45 people signed up for the first meeting; Curatolo said membership now is around 200.
Going forward, the group will aim to have monthly meetups with presentations from inspirational women in the field, and Curatolo said she is also partnering with Stevens to create opportunities for internships and mentorships with female students.
“If you have a tech startup, it's kind of a rocky hill,” Curatolo said. “Being in the room with other women who understand that and do the same things and can offer advice, is empowering.”
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