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Hillary talks IT talk but doesn't walk the walk

Industry Standard

April 17, 2000
Web posted at: 9:13 a.m. EDT (1313 GMT)

(IDG) -- There was some irony in the appearance of one particular speaker at the Women of Silicon Alley Summit on Thursday in lower Manhattan. It's not that she shies from public appearances. On the contrary, she's a regular on the pages of the New York Times, which chronicles her every utterance and handshake across the state. It's just that, well, for a speaker at a technology conference, she's been awfully shy about using technology.

Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senate candidate, told hundreds of women and a smattering of men in new media that she wanted "to thank everyone for celebrating the digital revolution." But just weeks ago, she confessed to the New York Daily News that she didn't own a computer and had never surfed the Net. She reportedly wrote her book "It Takes a Village" in longhand.

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Whatever her personal habits when it comes to the Internet, in public she could not be more of a booster for the importance of high-tech education and jobs. "Just since 1997, over 1,700 new-media companies have opened up shop in New York," she said at the summit, which was sponsored by Alleycat News, a new-media trade publication based in Manhattan. "The future of this city and state is ... bound to all of you in this room," she told the snazzily dressed, cell-phone adorned throng of female schmoozers apparently not referring to the Secret Service men who stood out sorely in the crowd.

Clinton spoke of the need to ensure that women have equal access to business funding, noting that only 4 percent of venture capital flows to companies owned by women. "I do not believe that is because our ideas are any less worthy," she said. She also called for increased federal support for business incubators in the city and state, with a specific emphasis on high tech.

She spoke like one who understood personally how hard it is to live without an Internet connection. Calling for better broadband access "in every part of the state," she spoke of the inequities of the digital divide and the need to provide both children and adults with better training and equipment. "No matter where we look, we see how important it is that we do more to bring the technology to as wide an audience as possible, beginning with our children."

Likewise, she said she was concerned that audience members get an equal shot at pursuing their Internet dreams. A key issue today is "ensuring equality in the digital age," she added. "I want to be really sure that when you're out there pitching your business, that you're on the same court as everybody else."

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