Tag Archives: stem

Women Pioneers in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

On Tuesday, June 10, I attended a fantastic event called See Jane Salon, on Women Pioneers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) put on by the Geena Davis Institute for Gender Studies in Media.

Women pioneers in STEM panel at Google

Women pioneers in STEM panel at Google on June 10, 2014.

Check out their event summary:

How can media encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science? One way is to feature exciting and dynamic portrayals of female scientists in movie and TV shows. Sounds easy enough, but the Geena Davis Institute’s 2012 research on the career occupations of female characters in family films, prime time and children’s television showed that there was a 15:1 ratio of male to female characters in science. Why is this so important? Because by 2018, there will be 1.2 million US job openings in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, with a significant shortage of qualified applicants to fill them. This See Jane Salon will showcase real women pioneers in STEM along with entertainment industry leaders who are creating great female characters in science.

The panel included Andrea Fernandez, Creative Director GoldieBlox, Dr. Kathy Magliato, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Taryn O’Neill, Actor, Jaime Paglia, TV and Film Writer/Producer The Flash (and co-creator of Eureka!), Christina Reynolds, Development Executive Amazon Studios, Amanda Segal, Co-Executive Producer, Person of Interest, Laura Tenenbaum, Communication Specialist NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, and moderator, Megan Smith, Entrepreneur, VP Google.

 If she can see it she can be it

What I liked about the panel was that they didn’t focus solely on the unique challenges of being a women in their chosen fields. If you’re a woman, particularly a WOC, you already know the challenges of being underrepresented in whatever field you’re in, STEM or not. That, unfortunately, is what a lot of women-centric panels of this sort turn into, running out of time before any solutions are discussed.  To about 200 attendees, 95% of whom were women, they provided real data in addition to the anecdotes of experiences, which I found refreshing.

I’d joined a Google+ hangout on Disrupting Entrepreneurship and Innovation  with Megan Smith about month ago and she reiterated on stage some interesting points about hiring practices and systemic bias toward women in stem fields. The fewer women that are present in a group, the higher the tendency to expect that women to represent the ‘female’ point of view, rather than a single person’s point of view. Also, for any given job criteria, a woman will tend apply only if she meets 7/10 of those characteristics, where a man will tend to apply if he meets just 3/10. I live-tweeted a few other things which you can find on Twitter using a hashtag search for #stem on June 10th.

I hope to attend more events like this and become a part of the solution for this issue. Do you have a favorite tv show or movie that features women characters in stem? Mine is the show ‘Eureka’ on Syfy. Let me know yours in a comment.

3 Things You Need for a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

I was invited to a Girls In Tech LA event a few weeks ago at Red Bull HQ, in Santa Monica. It was an amazing opportunity to check out the latest tech product showcases (like an Oculus Rift demo!) and to enjoy a panel of women who provided encouraging tips and best practices for those, particularly women, who are interested in STEM entrepreneurship. I learned some valuable things which I’ll share below plus I met a lot of smart and motivated people interested in the challenges of starting something new.

Girls in Tech LA event

Girls in Tech LA evening of awesome at Red Bull HQ in Santa Monica

Out of three panelists, including execs from Disney and Vizio, Julie Uhrman, CEO of Ouya, a company that created an open-source (Android) gaming console, took the floor for about 15 minutes and unleashed a slew of knowledge that was utterly mind-blowing. She told the fascinating story of her foray into founding a company that ultimately allowed independent game designers to get their games made for TV sets to market, and talked about using Kickstarter to achieve the funding needed.

Now I’ll share the three important tips she shared with attendees on how to complete a successful campaign on Kickstarter. I have never run a campaign on that platform myself, but she did and raised almost $1 million to boot!

Tip #1 – Be authentic/genuine. Be a real person before being a marketer. Relationships are key to being successful here. They are formed making memorable connections with people, and not by beating people over the head with your marketing message. Let people know why they should care instead of only telling them that they should.

Tip #2 – Be concise. Most people are not going to watch a 10-minute Kickstarter video with you rambling on about some non-existent project they care/know nothing about, so get to the point within the first 15 seconds!

Tip #3 – Form a community. You don’t want to do this alone. You’ll need an army of dedicated helpers and support. Save some perks to release partway through your campaign to get more people excited to be a part of your campaign. Even after the allotted time has passed, your effort doesn’t end because you’ve been funded. It’s just the first step to getting your product/project released. Now you have new customers who have just given you their hard-earned money. You have people that you can form great relationships with who will be glad to hear about your progress and help you spread the word about your forthcoming project.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? The reality is that it isn’t easy. Running a successful campaign is like a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll need endurance to get to the finish line, but it’ll be worth it.

I hope you’re encouraged by the tips above if you’re looking to do a Kickstarter (or one of the 100 other crowd-sourcing fundraiser sites). If you do one that gets funded feel free to share your tips below! Oh, I also live-tweeted this event. You can check that out on my Twitter @SoCalMad (Feb 18) or by following the Twitter hashtags #gitla2014 or #girlsintechla.

Panel of Wonder Women

The house was packed tonight at the Women in Tech Panel at General Assembly, in Santa Monica, to kick off a quarterly series featuring women in startups and tech. I attended to hear insights on what VCs look for in terms of being willing to invest in a startup, and to find out how each one of their paths led each panelist to move into her current role. The moderator, Pilar Stella, tossed out a couple of questions to start and then allowed the audience to take over.

I can’t wait to share my thoughts about this panel.

Ultimately I thought they were great, but for a significant part of the panel I didn’t know what to think. I mean, here were five knowledgeable investors sitting in front of a room of entrepreneurial people and as soon as the audience had the floor, they were fielding questions like “Do you think pitching a VC while being eight months pregnant might lead to not being considered a serious candidate for investment?” Or, after a long conversation about how there are studies that talk about gender gaps and how women are socialized systemically out of STEM fields, tossed a question like “What’s up with women who don’t know the difference between HTML and programming languages?” and “Why don’t women see the benefits of learning to program like guys do?” and “Why do they need so much help/support right away to learn how when guys can just get a book and start doing it?”

Seriously, there was a guy who asked those very questions. In a A ROOM FULL OF entrepreneurial women and men. Surely he just wanted to understand the rationale behind that lack of knowledge and/or interest from this particular panel. Because they, being women, could draw upon their experiences of battling groupthink, and be able to enlighten him on those of us who just can’t hack it in STEM. Mm-hmm… /sarcasm.

He identified himself but shall remain unnamed here, because reasons.

Tomorrow — My top 10 takeaways from tonight’s event.

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