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Women in Wireless, with 1,000 members at launch, seeks to become market force

Women in Wireless is the latest organization to help put women on the map in a mobile world that is rapidly changing the way marketers target and communicate with increasingly demanding and tech-savvy consumers.

Founded by mobile executives Veronika Sonsev and Charlotte Fors, Women in Wireless recently gained nonprofit status with headquarters in New York. The organization starts off with more than 1,000 members from brands, publishers, advertising agencies, wireless carriers and mobile marketing service providers.

?We want to develop and empower females to not only become involved in the mobile and digital space, but to excel in it,? Ms. Sonsev said.

In this interview, Ms. Sonsev, whose day job is CEO of inSparq, explains the focus of Women in Wireless, its membership drive, career-building initiatives and business model. Please read on.

Why was there a need for a separate Women in Wireless association?
Women in Wireless is an organization that promotes and develops female leaders in mobile and digital media.

The organization seeks to increase the number of women in executive and C-level positions at startup companies and established companies.

Women in the wireless industry need their own organization, as the hurdles they face in career advancement and opportunity development are very different from those of men.

Women in Wireless is designed to help women in the mobile and digital media leverage their collective power to further advancement of women through self-improvement and guidance on how to tackle those industry structures and practices which systematically hold women back from reaching their full potentials professionally.

The Mobile Marketing Association and CTIA?The Wireless Association would have offered a wider canvas for women. What more can they do to put mobile and women together?
The MMA and CTIA could promote women in mobile more by incorporating more women executives within their conferences and educational programs. And recruiting more female speakers and attendees for their events.

However, there is a chicken-and-egg issue here, where very few women actually apply to speak at these events ? we know because we have sources on the inside at both organizations.

This is one of the reasons Women in Wireless develops and secures panels at industry events to showcase women speakers.

Women in Wireless is also creating a database of women executives in mobile/digital so that we can facilitate speaking engagements for women in the wireless industry at our own events and partner events.

There doesn?t seem to be that many women in mobile marketing. Why is that?
There are many innovative women in mobile marketing. The Mobile Marketer?s Women to Watch 2011 lists some of them.

Women just don't promote themselves as effectively as men, so they are less known.

What will Women in Wireless do to attract more women to the industry?
Women in Wireless has several initiatives that offer support and encourage women to become more involved in the mobile space. 

Our mentoring program ? to be piloted in September 2011 ? will connect successful women in the industry with emerging female leaders to build lasting relationships that will benefit them in their careers.

We are launching a three-part educational series, covering topics like negotiating, sales and public speaking, designed to develop the essential career skills that women need to succeed in the mobile industry. 

The networking committee plans several events throughout the year at mobile conferences ? CTIA, Mobile Marketing Forum, SXSW ? to provide a space for women to connect and share ideas, creating more opportunities for career advancement, and also their own personal growth.

What?s your leadership ranks like?
Women in Wireless has eight committees: Philanthropy, Mentoring, Networking, Communications & Outreach, Local & International Chapters, Fundraising [and] Panels & Inspiration and Careers.

Every committee has two co-chairs, and are led by the Women in Wireless founders Veronika Sonsev and Charlotte Fors.

Do you have a focal point for the first year?
We aim to expand our membership base from 1,000 members to 2,000 by the end of the year in order to have more women participate in our educational and career-oriented initiatives.

What kind of events do you plan to have and how will you generate funds, fees and sponsorships?
Women in Wireless doesn't charge membership, so most of our budget comes from the generous support of our sponsors.

We've had major companies such as AOL, Syniverse, mBlox, Scanbuy and 3Cinteractive sponsor in the past and we're always looking for new sponsors.

Sponsorships with the Women in Wireless have a variety of benefits including exposure at our networking events, branding on our Web site and in social media, speaking opportunities and meet-and-greets with amazing women from our 1,000-plus membership database that includes brands, publishers and agencies.

How can women join the organization?
Women can join Women in Wireless on our Web site. They can also sign up through our LinkedIn group, Facebook group and follow us on Twitter at @womeninwireless.

What does Women in Wireless want to change?
Women in Wireless seeks to increase the number of women in executive and C-level positions at startup companies and established companies.

We want to develop and empower females to not only become involved in the mobile and digital space, but to excel in it.

We feel that building a coalition with other females will help women climb the corporate ladder as fast as men do in the industry.

We also want to attract more junior-level women to the mobile space and assure them that being in tech is not only for men.