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Blog, Tech History
The importance of acknowledging a woman’s capacity to create fundamental developments in the technology world is more important now than it has ever been.  With an increasingly technology-driven society, our daughters and sons need to know what role women have played and continue to play in this process. That is why it is vital to include stories of women in our dialogues as we continue to progress and advance society together.

One woman whose efforts to advance and develop the computer science and technology field, Annie Easley, is a story of perseverance and dynamism.  Easley, a computer and rocket scientist, and mathematician who worked for NASA under extraordinary circumstances, had to push through stereotypes and misconceptions as a woman of color during the civil rights and Jim Crow era of the 1950s-1960s.

Along with 4 other African Americans, two others being women as well, she became part of a group of highly qualified NASA Scientists.  Her work as part of the Centaur project included 34 years of developing computer code that analyzed alternative power and helped launched the technological foundations of the current space shuttle program. Because of her talents in exploring mathematical analytics and codes, she was described often as a “human computer” in an era when computer technology was still limited to government organizations.  

There is no doubt, that the strides Annie Easley and other women of NASA have made and continue to make will definitely change the discourse concerning not only a woman’s potential but the potential of all of humanity and society. Knowing history and contemporary trends for women in the workplace can help us as society to push barriers and continue towards a better future. Save
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Blog, Community
The next generation of tech entrepreneurs are already at work, tinkering and experimenting and thinking, and the ideas blooming in their young minds are all the brilliant colors of the rainbow.

What programs, like StartUp Weekend, are designed to bring these young entrepreneurs the networks, mentors, and the resources they need to change the world? Google for Entrepreneurs is providing financial assistance and tools for startups who embrace diversity and for organizations developing coworking spaces, community hubs they call campuses. The program is global, with campuses in Madrid, San Paolo, Tel Aviv, London, Warsaw, and Seoul. The program focuses on community partnerships that provide local mentorship, support, and education.

The startups include a number of national and regional programs that focus on increasing opportunity for members of society who do not have equal access to community resources. Many of the startups participating are tech hubs; some are accelerators for Latino entrepreneurs or programs working to increase women’s access to the startup world. The participating startup programs are blooming around the world, from India to Australia to Dubai to Detroit. The startup community supported by Google for Entrepreneurs also have several programs designed specifically for children and older adults. Code for America and Startup Weekend have branches designed specially for children and teens, and Aging 2.0 focuses on innovative technologies that will have an impact on the global aging population.

Google for Entrepreneurs is global in reach and inclusive in focus, but it is structured for cities, and for participants who have already taken the first steps into the tech world. Teens for Tech is a structured program associated with the FounderSpace business incubator that works with young entrepreneurs from 13 to 19. Many universities around the world hold summer camps specifically designed for teens who are interested in tech innovation. These programs all are city-based, and take both money and a degree of education to be successful. What about the high school kids on the verge of dropping out of school? 

Torus Teens is a new startup in NYC that is focusing on hooking teens up with free after school programs that provide mentorship, networking, and opportunities to explore tech, business and entrepreneurship. Several states that focus on empowering teens through entrepreneurship, such as New Mexico, are sponsoring StartUp Weekends for high school students throughout the state. With much of the population spread out into rural areas, these weekends can provide some much needed networking and opportunity to rural kids. They have multiple options for scholarship funding as well, so teens can participate who might not otherwise be able to afford the program.
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Blog, Women In Tech
When Dr. Isaac Asimov published I, Robot, in 1950, he brought robots and their fascinating positronic brains into mainstream consciousness.

He also introduced the first woman in robotics, Dr. Susan Calvin.

This is how he described her: “She was a frosty girl, plain and colorless, who protected herself against a world she disliked by a mask-like expression and a hypertrophy of intellect.”

Dr. Asimov would be delighted to find himself wrong, and living in a world where the frosty girls of robotics are charming, articulate, and moving the world of machine learning and robotics in directions even he never imagined. Women in robotics are heading innovative labs in universities across the world, developing applications for every imaginable system, size, and use.

Here are some of the amazing women of robotics.

Robogal Marita Chen is the founder and CEO of 2Mar Robotics. She founded Robogals when she was an undergrad to encourage girls to investigate STEM; the program is now global in reach.  She talks about being a maker in her TED Talk. Cynthia Breazeal from MIT has developed groundbreaking work in social robotics and human-robot interactions. She is founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc, an open-platform startup that brings social robots into homes for family use. Her TED Talk on the rise of personal robots is one of TED’s most popular.

Engineergirl Ayanna Howard works out of Georgia Tech combining human cognitive capabilities into the control pathways of autonomous systems–robotic limbs! In her show for Dragonfly TV, a PBS Kid’s show, she explains artificial intelligence and machine learning so easily that every eight year old girl in the world is asking for an erector set for Christmas.

Kaori Kuribayashi-Shigetomi is working on a fascinating field, designing living cells to power microrobotic structures. Her fascinating cells unfold and fold as natural systems, and she has used the art of origami to translate those natural systems into robotics.

Maarja Kruusma from the Tallinn Institute of Technology works in biorobotics, including recent work in flow dynamics. Her talk, How Fish Kiss, was given at the Barcelona Cognition, Brain, and Technology summer school.
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Blog, Community
The women doing groundbreaking work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are articulate and fascinating speakers. One of the best ways to listen to their ideas is through the TED Talk series.

Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, thinks we’re raising girls to be perfect and boys to be brave. Her goal is to teach girls to take risks and to learn to program. Her TED Talk is Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection.

Natalie Jeremijenko of NYU’s Environmental Health Clinic believes new technology is an opportunity for social transformation. Her TED Talk, the Art of the Eco Mindshift, talks about using a combination of engineering and public art to address environmental and human health.

Rachel Armstrong is a materials engineer and innovator who believes a new method of sustainable building construction can both repair itself and sequester carbon. She describes her work in her TED Talk Architecture that Repairs Itself.

Sarah Cairns-Smith is a biochemist who works in global development. Her TED Talk, Tech Solutions to Economic Development, describes mobile app development and use in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Does our tech keep us from dreaming? Shilo Shiv Suleman describes her new Khoya app in her TED Talk, Using Tech to Enable Dreaming. She wants to use tech to keep the magic in the world.

Mellody Hobson, in her TED Talk Color Blind or Color Brave, describes the need to discuss race openly and bravely in order to deal with diversity and inclusion.

In her TED Talk Hackers: the Internet’s Immune System, cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari says that hackers help cybersecurity by exposing vulnerabilities in the system.

Cynthia Breaeal spoke about socializing robots to interact with humans in her TED Talk The Rise of Personal Robots.Save
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Blog, Inspiration
Transgender people have always been excluded from access to quality, caring, and nonjudgmental healthcare, and still are excluded today.

Healthcare challenges for trans people are significant, and include at the most basic level finding skilled and knowledgeable primary health care and access to medical specialists: endocrinologists, psychotherapists, speech therapists, and surgeons. Two new startups are meeting the needs of this population by developing databases of healthcare providers.

RAD Remedy is designed for trans, non-conforming gender, intersex, and queer folk to find safe, respectful, and comprehensive health care. They have two programs. The original RAD uses a model called a Referral Aggregate Database (RAD).The database includes crowdsourced information, shared experiences and referrals. People seeking information can find provider referrals based on specialty and geographic area. Their new program, RAD Remedy on Demand, is a consulting service for health care providers. Providers can ask for subject matter expert review of their practice forms, systems, and work practices to make sure the care they provide is the best quality possible. This new program has been funded by a capacity building grant from CFW LBTQ Giving Council and the Polk Brothers Fund. RAD Remedy has recently received their 501(c)3 designation.

MyTransHealth, based in Miami, is a guided referral system that uses a detailed screening process for healthcare professionals and specialty clinics to be included in their database. Providers are screened for clinical training, and clinics for nondiscrimination policy, gender-neutral bathrooms, and gender-affirming intake paperwork. Both providers and clinics are re-screened every 12 months. MyTransHealth also contains insurance information by geographic area, so people can find the therapeutics that are included in their insurance coverage. They currently have developed networks of specialists and primary care practitioners in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, NYC, San Francisco, and Seattle, and are working on expanding their database of screened referrals.Save
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Blog, Women In Tech
Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor, has been awarded the Kevin J Mossier Next Generation Award by StartOut, the LBGTQ Entrepreneur Organization.
Blendoor is a merit-based matching and recruiting app that reduces unconscious bias in the hiring process by hiding applicants’ names, pictures, and dates. Using data-driven metrics, Blendoor helps companies make better hiring decisions. Candidates also have a window into company diversity and inclusion. Stephanie has an engineering degree from Stanford and an MBA from MIT. So when she found herself having difficulty finding a software engineering job in Silicon Valley, she had to wonder if being young made a difference? Or being a woman? Or being African-American? Or all three? She began researching diversity in tech hiring. What she found were quantifiable variables in the perception of race, gender, and age, and tech company hiring decisions that reflected these variables.

When she developed Blendoor the unconscious barriers and variables that impact hiring decisions were moved out of the way. Several companies with strong diversity and inclusion programs, such as Intel and Google, signed up to use her app before it was launched. Since that time, she has had a number of high profile companies, such as Facebook and Apple, come on board. Hiding photos and names on resumes allows applicants a safe zone where accomplishments can shine. For traditionally excluded populations, Blendoor can be the first step toward a seat at the table.

There are several other tools tech companies are using to deal with diversity, inclusion, and hiring bias. Psychologists believe that it is difficult to impossible to remove unconscious bias. What they propose are solutions that will mitigate the effects of unconscious bias in the workplace. GapJumpers is a new startup that looks at job skills and performs blind auditions, rather than looking at resumes. For jobs and skills that can be self-taught, like coding, applicants without college or experience have a way to shine. Applicants are given a skills test, or a hands-on task to complete. The audition is based on the results of the work. Textio was developed by looking at unconscious gender bias in the language of job descriptions. They use analytics and a predictive model to assess the language used in job searches and descriptions. Phrases are highlighted and areas of concern addressed, with suggestions for improvement. Companies using the method are meeting their hiring goals of more qualified and diverse candidates.

The National Center for Women and Information Technology has published some “Promising Practices” to help HR departments and hiring managers make decisions that reduce the impact of unconscious bias.SaveSave
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Blog, Tech History
In the male dominated world of video game development, Carol Shaw stands out not only as a woman in technology role model, but as an innovative designer. She began her career with Atari in 1978, but according to PC Magazine she may be the first female video game developer, ever.

Throughout her life, Shaw was often the only female perusing her chosen interest. Her parents encouraged her to excel in math and computer science. In college, at UC Berkley, Shaw studied engineering. As she finished her coursework for a Masters in Computer Science, Shaw interviewed with Atari. She was in a work-study program at the time, but Atari hired her because of her programing knowledge. Author Chris Suellentrop of the New York Times states that the first commercially released video game designed by a woman was Carol Shaw’s Tic-Tac-Toe. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, one person created the entire game. Shaw not only did the programming but also created the sound and graphics.  

In 2011 Benj Edwards of Vintage Computing and Gaming conducted a very interesting interview with Shaw. She noted that since she was used to being the only woman in math and science, she was comfortable working with men only. In general, Shaw didn’t care what people thought of her interests or her career. She credits the heightened awareness of feminism in the 1970s, which helped her to understand that she could do what she wanted.

Shaw worked for Atari for two years then the industry took a dip. She was an assembly language programmer at Tandem for 16 months and then Activision recruited her. The first game she created for that company was the popular River Raid, for the Atari 2600. In the early 1980s, “shooting” games took place on one screen but Shaw developed a scrolling format. River Raid won several awards including Infoworld’s best action game and best Atari 8-bit game of the year.

In 1984 the video game industry reached another low and Shaw returned to Tandem. Because of her success in the industry and her careful investments she retired early, in 1990. Unfortunately, there are still few women in the video game industry. A 2014 International Game Developers Association (IGDA) study noted that only 22 percent of developers are women. We need more women in all fields of technology, so contact us to learn how to make that happen.Save
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Blog, Community
Maker Spaces are a twig on the incubator branch of the tree that is education and support for small business startups. This twig may be the very best incubator space for many entrepreneurs.

Incubators provide small business startups with business resources, mentoring, support and education. Many provide coworking space and access to investors. Maker spaces are a type of incubator, but they begin with a peer-to-peer model. Imagine you are Luke Skywalker and you have a new startup in your mind. Do you take it to Yoda, or do you take your idea into Han Solo’s garage and work it out with Leia, Chewwy, and the gang? Yoda is the incubator. Han’s garage is the maker space.

Maker spaces are mostly regional, and many are designed to share the cost and space of industrial equipment and supplies. So they tend to be industry based, as well. Most have a coworking component and education, support, and networking.

There are several maker spaces that are online platforms. Maker’s Row is a design/production maker space that focuses on helping designers find American manufacturing partners. They have a vigorous boot camp of workshops and courses to help designers get their business skills where they need to be. The online platform allows manufacturers and independent designers to interact and work together first online, and then in person.

Mi Kitchen es Su Kitchen is a commercial kitchen incubator that works as a maker space for entrepeneurs with food startups. Food businesses are popular for their low start up costs and ready markets. For many entrepreneurs, a food business is the gateway into entrepreneurship. Access to a commercial kitchen, shared space and equipment, and business education, support, and mentoring make Mi Kitchen a popular and successful maker space.

IE is the Portland Incubator Experiment, a beloved regional coworking space and idea incubator. The collaborative focuses on support and encouragement, as well as creative sharing. The organization is evolving with the needs of the startup community. Their newest project is an open-source book of resources for other incubator startups called, of course, the Pie Cookbook.

TechTown Detroit is an established tech startup incubator. Their maker space is divided into laboratory space, for tech startups, and place space, for entrepreneurs working with underserved neighborhoods and communities. The local movement in Detroit is changing this city into a model for regional entrepreneurship.

The Staten Island Maker Space is a collaborative project of two artists who brought together the large equipment and space for artists, metal workers, fabricators, and community tinkerers. They have digital fabrication equipment, a metal shop, woodshop, computer lab, and sewing room, as well as shared workspace and studio space. They have a number of education programs for business startups, and a workshop-based kid’s education program.

WESST is a mature business development incubator that offers startups mentoring, education, investment funding opportunities, and business loans, as well as coworking space. Like the Detroit maker space, WESST was begun to meet the regional economic challenges in New Mexico. Their new incubator is located in Albuquerque. The majority of their startups are women-owned businesses, and they have developed education and support materials specific for women. They also have a veteran-specific coworking space for no cost for active duty military and veterans.Save
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Blog, Tech History
Margaret Hamilton. You may not recognize the name, but, if not for her legendary programming skills, Neil Armstrong’s famous ‘One Small Step’ speech not only may have been delivered by someone else — but quite probably in Russian.

Hamilton and her team of programmers at MIT wrote one of the most important pieces of software ever written, and in doing so changed the world for all mankind, men and women alike. The Apollo 11 mission that first put man on the moon on July 10, 1969 was made possible by guidance software written by Hamilton’s team. They wrote the code that allowed the Apollo Guidance Computer units in the mission’s command module and lunar landing module to successfully navigate to the moon, land, and return to earth.

Under Hamilton’s leadership, the team not only wrote code that worked, but code that save the mission from almost certain failure. NASA was aware of problems between the Apollo Guidance Computer and the on-board radar on the lander. The radar, which was largely useless during the landing sequence, would nonetheless flood the guidance computer with an overwhelming storm of unnecessary data that could easily overwhelm and shut down guidance during the most crucial part of the landing sequence.

The coding team was aware of this, and wrote the guidance program in such a way that the guidance computer could be quickly restarted and the code reloaded mid-landing sequence. Their foresight made the Apollo 11 landing possible when, as expected, the guidance computer faulted and had to be restarted during the landing. NASA recognized Hamilton for her contributions to the Apollo program by awarding her the Exceptional Space Act Award in 2003.

Today, at 80, Margaret Hamilton is still playing an active role in technology in her role as CEO of Hamilton Technologies Inc. of Cambridge, MA. Founded in 1986, HTI has build upon lessons learned during the Apollo program to develop a revolutionary programming language known as Universal Systems Language (USL), which HTI claims has unequaled reliability for use in high-demand computing tasks.Save
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Blog, Inspiration
Yep. Still 2016. I still wake up on some days worried about redundancy in app development. I mean, fuck, how many Pomodoro apps do I have to check out before making an informed decision? Pretty sure I tried nine in September of 2015, and that number has more than doubled today.

Also: still weathering a sinking feeling, or a pit maybe, at the center of me, hardening as app developers look more and more like 27 year old white dudes overly interested in profit margins. I mean, I dig profits. And as profits are the fastest route to power in this world we’ve got, I firmly believe women and persons of color need, need, need to seek power shamelessly; I am not here to warn against profits. And yet here I am asking three minutes of your time, in order to introduce you to three apps that are not about profit margins.

These are apps that are world changers, meant to make the world a better, fairer, safer more effective place for women and thereby for everyone. You with me? 

My three favorite, totally ethical and women-focused apps + designers that/who are making qualitative differences in our world while also maintaining my faith in app development.

Ready? Go.

1. Maven: Want women’s health consultations that are efficient and affordable? There’s an app for that. Former reporter for the Economist Katherine Richardson was focused on accessibility when she designed this app, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of space for users to share experiences as well as advice. Think of this as a women’s health clinic for your pocket. And I started my list with health on purpose. Because we aren’t fully chingona (ie badass) when we’re under the weather.

2. W’sHR: And now we also get pocket sized access to the international legal instruments adopted by the UN, those that are relevant to women in particular. Yeah, really. The name is an acronym for Women’s Human Rights, and the app is developed by SCHR/ICGS and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The goal: swifter negotiation for women and for what is right―around the world.

3. Wrike: Okay, okay, this one isn’t really women-focused. This one is for everyone; but for you women heads in search of new management tools, I include this for you. Because with more and more of us at the summit each new day, we really ought to keep updating our camalots along with the rest of our gear. Wrike brings project management to the project manager. Let’s say you manage employees who work at different paces, and while you want to be flexible, you want, too, to be effective. This app allows you to track group performance. Further, it allows you to put Word, Google Drive, Excel, and email in the same place, the assumption being: once integrated, you will become even more efficient.

Collaboration, discussion, document building―it’s all here. Simplifying life for those of you in charge.

*I didn’t include Evernote on this list because everybody and her mom has already written about Evernote as a must download. But know that if you are thinking across multiple projects each day and looking to stay organized, Evernote really is a must. Once again, this is regardless of your gender identity/identities.
*This article was originally posted on KaliWilliams.com
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