This is my debut blog for my new IDG blog, \u201cBuilding the Future \u2013 Together.\u201d I believe it will take all of us \u2013 men, women and transgender, young and old, from every neighborhood from Detroit to Orange County and every village from Africa to China \u2013 to build a digital future that is inclusive for us all.\nOur tremendous dilemma\nWe exist in a digital world. From shopping and buying food to banking and managing our finances to education and more, our lives increasingly exist in a digital world supported by technology. If we don\u2019t ensure there is a diverse workforce building today, we risk living in an even more exclusive world tomorrow.\nWhile most people agree with this notion, the reality is there are fewer women in tech today than ever before. After peaking in 1991 at 36 percent, the rate of women in computing roles has been on the decline. Women make up just 25 percent of computing roles today. Women leave tech at double the rate of men and Harvard Business Journal estimates more than half of women in tech will leave over time due to hostile work environments. And fewer young women are choosing to pursue careers in tech. Just 11% of teenage girls plan to pursue STEM careers, by at least one estimate.\nThis creates a tremendous dilemma that faces us right now, today, at this very moment.\nIt\u2019s the culture, stupid\nThere are many reasons cited for this decline \u2013 from the lack of qualified minority candidates in the pipeline, which is highly disputed, to poor education \u2013 but the most cited and supported is the culture of tech. The culture in tech changes about every 10 years. As an example, consider the last 3-4 decades. \u00a0\nIn the 1980s, the entry of the PC into the home created a culture focused on video games and weird science. And because these PCs were marketed to boys and men, we saw fewer women seeking computer science degrees in the early 1990s.\nThe 1990s and early 2000s brought the Internet, which led to one of the biggest bubbles in tech. This created millionaires and billionaires. Tech was now seen as a place to go to get rich.\nOver the last 10 years, young white men \u2013 what some call super geniuses \u2013 have been largely sensationalized and associated with tech. The idea of the $1b unicorn has created a level intensity in tech that we haven\u2019t seen before, an intensity that a male engineering manager at Uber told me sometimes allows leadership teams to compromise their ethics and what many women have told me doesn\u2019t feel like an inclusive and productive way to innovate.\nBut how do we begin to understand macro industry culture, what is it today and how do we shape it for the future? Building culture within our own companies and communities is challenging enough. What happens when we try to shift an entire industry\u2019s culture?\nI believe we begin and can be successful in changing culture through understanding the micro experiences \u2013 the stories \u2013 of the people working in tech every day.\u00a0\nStory changes culture\nThe power of story is sometimes overlooked or taken for granted due to the deluge of social media and content in the information age. It can also be dismissed as \u2018talk,\u2019 not \u2018action. But it is exactly in this world of data and information overload that engaging story can rise above the clutter and overwhelm to connect and engage. And both history and modern-day references make it clear that story is a powerful way to change behavior and incite action. \u00a0\nConsider historical evidence such as Homer\u2019s Odyssey and the Iliad. Historian JE Lendon says that the emphasis on conquering cities by trickery are mirrored in the Greek battle strategy that followed, underscoring the impact of story not only on the mind but also on cultural behaviors and norms.\nStory can result in action and behavioral change, because when it connects on an emotional, visceral level, it creates empathy. Psychologists at Princeton have even mapped brain patterns in storytellers and the people listening to story and have demonstrated that the same areas of the brain \u2013 the insula \u2013 light up at the same times, during emotional arcs in the story, leading to understanding and sensitivity.\nOhio State University psychologist Lisa Libby found when people identify with a protagonist in a story, they may take similar action. In one of her studies, when the protagonist stepped up to vote in the face of adversity, the consumers of the story were found to be more likely to vote later on.\nThis is action, and this is behavioral change, which begins to change culture.\nAnd when we consider even more recent works in literature and filmmaking, we quickly see for ourselves the link between story and culture shifts. Middlesex (2002), began to reframe the conversation about transgenders through the personal account of Cal (or \u2018Callie\u2019). Crash (2004) reframed the very sensitive nuances of race in America. It allowed people to take a look at themselves and their own unconscious bias in a way that was uncomfortable but started to change the narrative about race.\nIn our world, the world of tech, we see the power of story from women such as Ellen Pao and Susan Fowler, Sarah Lacey and Sheryl Sandberg. And increasingly, the power of story is coming from every day women in tech. Hundreds, if not thousands of them.\u00a0\nWhen stories are shared, women speak up and say \u2018hey, #metoo.\u2019 And others show up and say \u2018hey, what can I do?\u2019\nAfter interviewing hundreds of women and men over the last year for The Chasing Grace Project, I realize more than ever the power of story to incite action and change behavior. For every young woman that approaches me after a screening or talk, to every man that asks me where they can learn more, I know that change is coming. But we can\u2019t stop now. If we stop sharing our stories or allow ourselves to be silenced, we could see an even worse decline in the number of women in tech. The future depends on us to keep going.