Career Achievement Archives - Geek Girl Rising

Category Archives: Career Achievement

Geek Girl Rising TV: Success Secrets From the CEO of CLEAR

For Caryn Seidman Becker, CEO of CLEAR, the biometric technology company that strives to make security seamless in an age of extreme caution, hard work and constantly asking hard questions is how she succeeded in some of the most male-dominated professions: finance, aviation and technology.

“Life is a puzzle. It is a maze and you have to want to be persistent…and have absolute passion for what you are doing,”  the New York City based executive told Geek Girl Rising’s Heather Cabot when we sat down with her in her office.

“[A] ‘no’ isn’t a ‘no.’ It is an opportunity to learn and grow,” the mother of three said.  We met in late January, the day before CLEAR’s kiosks would go on-line at LaGuardia Airport, bringing the total availability of its service to 21 airports and nearly 1 million subscribers.  In her professional life, she has often gravitated to a road less traveled for women. She co-founded the billion dollar asset management fund Arience Capital, which invested in Apple and Priceline as turnarounds.  The work fed her constant desire to find a “diamond in the rough. ” When she bought CLEAR out of bankruptcy in 2010, it was similar challenge.

“[I’m] always trying to think ahead [about] where the road is going in five to ten years and that means you are not playing for what’s now but for what will be,” she told us.

More in our sit-down interview!

 

 

 

Uber Revelations Underscore Vital Work of Geek Girls

Reading Susan Fowler’s allegations of appalling sexual harassment and an unresponsive human resources department inside Uber this week gave us goose bumps.  Not only did it echo disturbing anecdotes we gathered from interviewing hundreds of women across the tech ecosystem about the toxic “bro” culture still tolerated in many corners of the tech industry (and documented in research such as the “Elephant in the Valley” report which found that 60% of  SV women surveyed have experienced sexual harassment),  but we had actually witnessed a discussion of sexism inside the Uber’s engineering ranks that seemed to foreshadow Fowler’s eye-opener.

It was December 11, 2015 and co-author Samantha Walravens was tagging along with software engineer Tracy Chou who was invited by the company’s #LadyENG and #LaddieEng groups to speak about inclusion and closing the gender gap at a lunchtime event.  Chou, who went on to co-found Project Include with Ellen Pao among others, was at the time still working at Pinterest and had received national attention for her crowdsourced data that revealed the tiny numbers of women working in the technical ranks of Silicon Valley darlings.   As we write in Chapter 1 of our book, one of the women in the meeting put Tracy on the spot and asked what Uber could do to improve its image so it can recruit more women?  Tracy asked if she meant the brand or “Is there stuff that needs to be addressed internally?” and went on to say that Uber couldn’t fix its reputation if it didn’t address concerns on the inside first. This meeting took place about a month after Fowler had joined Uber.

Now more than two years later, Uber’s CEO  Travis Kalanick (who told GQ that “Boober” is how he refers to the effect he and his company have on his desirability to women) is promising a swift investigation into the company culture.  We are inspired by Fowler’s courage to stand up and speak out and are reminded once again that the power of grass roots activism and social media can never be underestimated.  Within minutes of posting her story, Fowler’s blog post was shared incessantly across Facebook and Twitter, sparking outcry.

In our reporting for the book, we cull together the amazing stories of brave women across the tech world — developers, founders, investors, educators and advocates — who have united to change the culture of tech and to create new opportunities for women and people of all backgrounds.  Some of those trailblazers include Tracy Chou; Rebecca Miller-Webster and her Write/Speak/Code conference that helps female software developers hone their writing and public speaking skills; Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder of theBoardlist, a platform to help companies recruit board-ready female directors; Natalia Oberti Noguera, whose Pipeline Angels boot camp for women angel investors is creating an new stream of capital for female founders; Kathryn Finney, founder of digitalundivided and the new BIG Accelerator in Atlanta that helps black and Latina entrepreneurs launch their startups; Kathryn Minshew and Alex Cavoulacos, co-founders of The Muse, Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO of Care.com, Yunha Kim co-founder of Locket and Simple Habit, who are proving that women-led businesses can deliver big-time; Dr. Maria Klawe,  president of Harvey Mudd College and Dr. Lenore Blum, distinguished professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, who have led important efforts to boost the number of women majoring in computer science.  And SO many more! What we found is that correcting gender imbalance is a nuanced and complicated problem.  There is no magic bullet. But efforts to increase diversity on boards and in the C-suite,  to funnel more venture investment to female founders, to crush stereotypes of who works in tech by increasing the visibility of female technologists and corporate leaders and to inspire a new generation of girls who see themselves as tomorrow’s builders and innovators are underway.

This is not a time to feel defeated.  “Geek Girls” will continue to rise up. The Uber scandal reinforces the important and tireless work of the “sisterhood shaking up tech.”  And they will #persist.

Attendees at the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence Take Centerstage at Women’s Pitch Contest

 

From self-driving wheelchairs to digital personalized help for addicts to predictive data analysis for doctors to virtual travel agents, the fourth annual Women Startup Challenge showcased women venturing into emerging areas of technology.  The competition, hosted by Google in New York City, offered a $50,000 prize courtesy of the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund. The night drew more than 200 spectators, including investors, founders and techies, who watched the ten dynamic finalists pitch their cutting edge companies.

“We’ve received many hundreds of submissions from female entrepreneurs whose product ideas are often brilliant and disruptive, and a few that could even be the ‘next big thing.’ We’re just scratching the surface of  the pent-up talent, as you see from the caliber of today’s winners,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, the organization that runs the Challenge.

Didimo of Clayton, California took home the grand prize.  It’s a tool that transforms the image from a single photo into a 3D virtual character that can speak, move and represent a user in a 3D world. Runners up were Spirit AI and Addicaid, both located in New York.  Each will receive $10,000 in legal services from Paul Hastings LLP.  Kudos!

 

Diverse Founders Experiment with Crowd Investing

August 30, 2016

Female founders and other under-represented entrepreneurs are banking on a new vehicle to raise money from U.S. investors. It’s called crowd investing and it allows just about anyone to make an investment in a startup without having to meet the wealth and income requirements set by the SEC for traditional private investors.  How can it help early stage ventures started by women, people of color and of the LGBTQ community? Check out our story about one of the first crowd investing platforms, Republic and RaceYa, one of the first companies that successfully exceeded its fundraising goals via crowd investing in the fall of 2016.  RaceYa raised $88,000 from 173 investors to help build its customizable radio-controlled race cars that teach kids about science, technology, engineering and math.  Way to go!

Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson, founder of RaceYa - a tech start-up that creates customizable toy cars that teach children about science and engineering, works to fix and organize some of the cars at her home office on Monday, February 29, 2016. CREDIT: Adrienne Grunwald for The Wall Street Journal NYVENTURE
Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson, founder of RaceYa – a tech start-up that creates customizable toy cars that teach children about science and engineering, works to fix and organize some of the cars at her home office on Monday, February 29, 2016. CREDIT: Adrienne Grunwald for The Wall Street Journal NYVENTURE
Geek Girl Rising: Inside The Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech

 

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