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Blog, Diversity & Inclusion

In many ways, start-ups are the ideal job for millennial and progressive people of all ages. They offer flexibility, innovation, and opportunity to grow. However, not all start-ups are as progressive in their social practices as they are with their business practices. Start-ups in Silicon Valley have been long criticized for their sexist policies and company culture. The following start-ups are woman-tested, woman-approved.

Kapor Capital

Investment is one of the hardest industries to break into for women, but this start-up investment firm is female-focused with more than of half of investments being led by a woman. This firm also demonstrated its commitment to women when it hired Ellen Pao, the woman who made history by suing a famous Silicon Valley venture capital firm for discrimination.


Although this company may not be seen as a start-up anymore due to its rapid growth, Lyft has distinguished itself by having one of the lowest gender pay gaps of only seven cents on the dollar. 81% of women report feeling valued by their coworkers. They also offer one of the longest maternity leaves in the United States at 12 weeks.


This tech company is most notable for starting and also owns the spam filtering software, Askimet. The start-up may only have a staff of 24% women, but men and women receive raises at equal rates. This is no small feat in the tech industry, where the gap is typically much larger.


Blog, Inspiration
It’s a simple formula–find a problem and then do something about it. is a nonprofit giving kids the structure and support they need to change their world. The problem? 90% of Wikipedia editors are men. So the Girls-Only Edit-a-Thon was born, a group project to encourage girls to host edit-a-thon parties and work on female-focused wiki pages together. The platform page for the campaign provides information, support, suggestions, and a blueprint for change. Girls and groups from all over the world can sign up and sign on to do some good.

Does Wikipedia have a gender gap among its editors, and if so, does that fact bias content on the site? Wikimedia, the umbrella organization that manages Wikipedia, says yes to both. It is believed that the hacker/high-conflict culture drives many women away from engaging in thoughtful discourse. Wikipedia, in their article about the wiki gender gap, describes several contributing factors. A high-tech skills gap was noted, along with the conflict culture and gender differences in language and linguistics.

Wikipedia leadership has committed to making a difference in gender disparity, in wiki-type language: “We’re going to double-down on this problem!” Several other changes are being developed, including the Wikipedia Teahouse, a friendlier user-interface with welcoming for newcomers. In addition to the Girls-Only Edit-a-Thon, which is targeted to high school aged teens, there has been an edit-a-thon yearly for the past several years called Women in Science. The goal of this yearly online activity is to increase the number of prominent women in science with Wiki pages.

Blog, Diversity & Inclusion
The Southern Poverty Law Center has a long history of teaching and providing educational resources on the subjects of tolerance, inclusion, diversity, and race through their Teaching Tolerance Project. Their roots in the civil rights movements in the 1960s has made them a long-standing expert in this field.

Children today are seeing different examples of systematic racism and violence, and the information they are accessing and discussing is not always balanced and accurate. The Teaching Tolerance Project has developed a crowdsourced group of resources for classroom teachers to use in discussing current issues of race, tolerance, and institutional violence in America. Race, Racism, and Police Violence is a collection of lesson plans, resources, blogs and articles, with external resources, and includes information about how to respond when violence touches the classroom.

These are complex, divisive issues. Our children are trying to make sense of what is happening. Teachers can guide their discussions and provide them with a balanced view of what is happening and how to respond. Education Week has a list of resources for teachers and by teachers about how to address race and deal with students of all grade levels responding to violence in their communities.

The DC Public School system has adopted a group of resources teachers can use to facilitate discussions in the classroom called Preparing to Discuss Race and Police Violence.  This list of suggestions and resources was adapted from the Teachable Moments classroom lessons of the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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