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Why this is a great time to be a woman in tech

Silvana Gaia


May 25th, 2018

My highlights from Women Who Code Connect 2018

Driving back from the Women Who Code Connect 2018 event at Twitter’s HQ in San Francisco, California, I remembered a childhood event. When I was around 6 years old I played the local lottery and almost won the first prize. My mom knelt, looked into my eyes and told me: “Your are a lucky person”. It was so funny that although I didn’t win anything I believed her. And now that I understand the power of labels I can see that I was really lucky that “lucky” was the label I was assigned to.

Why this is a great time to be a woman in tech

As humans, we constantly label and categorize information on both conscious and unconscious levels. Labeling enables our brains to sort information efficiently, but the labels and categories we assign to information can form generalizations and stereotypes in our minds. When we allow stereotypes to define individuals, we fail to see the inherent diversity in humans.

It was great attending the Women Who Code event, because these kinds of initiatives help counter stereotypes of women in technology. I was able to meet incredibly talented and inspiring women during the day, and I want to share some of their stories here.

I heard a panel discussion with a diverse group of leaders from different WWCode “Networks” around the world. These were women from Mexico, UK, Manila, Taiwan, Seattle, and Atlanta, all with very different backgrounds, sharing their stories as leaders in tech, and showcasing how technology is helping us create a more equal world.

I listened to Candi Castleberry Singleton, Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity at Twitter, talking about the Corporate Card Game. She uses a Card Game analogy to frame the decisions we all make in our career paths. Everybody in business is playing the game. Every action is like playing a card. You can choose to play the game or not, but you should know that if you choose the second option, that is the card you are playing. You need to know the rules, deal with your cards, and work on your personal game. One very simple, but powerful piece of advice is to build a good short story for networking events to share with people – which is something they will use after meeting you.

More info at http://corporatecardgame.com/

Another interesting speaker was Diana Hu, AR Engineering at Niantic Labs. She is the Co-founder and CTO of Escher Reality, a company that focuses on exploring the intersection of digital and physical worlds, augmented reality (AR), and computer vision. Previously, Diana led data science teams to bring research projects into products for cloud television at Intel and Verizon Labs. She holds seven patents in computer vision and machine learning.

She mentioned that Escher works with Shared Augmented Reality environments as opposed to ARCore (Google) and ARKit (Apple), that works in a single core. In February 2018, Niantic acquired her company. Niantic announced the acquisition saying that it will accelerate their work on persistent, shared AR as part of the Niantic real-world application platform.

More info at https://www.nianticlabs.com/blog/escherreality/

She mentioned that the big event for AR was Pokemon GO, but although it is now closer to consumers, there are a lot of improvements needed for the technology, regarding worlds semantics and geometrics, lightning/shadowing of objects interacting with the real world in real time, and improvements to the overall experience. For UX work, she mentioned that game developers are the best candidates.

A couple of other inspiring speakers were Erin Morrissey, Senior Associate Software Engineer at Capital One, who spoke about Blockchain without mentioning Bitcoin; and also Paige Bailey, Sr. Cloud Developer Advocate (Machine Learning AI) at Microsoft, who presented the challenges of implementing DevOps practices with machine learning/deep learning data models.

I feel so lucky, not only for me, but for every woman that has chosen technology as their career, because the opportunities are tremendous. And I hope our generation succeed in increasing the momentum behind women in technology, giving them more opportunities to thrive in this industry.

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