Yesterday we had the pleasure of attending the WIM Accelerator Founder’s Breakfast with guest speaker Hilary Mason. It was jam-packed with great food, good coffee, and most importantly, a community of tech lovers from all walks of life.
The team at WIM brought Hilary in because she’s a tech enthusiast herself and a firm believer in bringing different people into the tech game and nurturing fledgling tech talent. On the bio page of her site, Hilary will tell you that she’s the Chief Scientist at bitly, co-organizer at DataGotham, Co-founder of HackNY, and a member of NYCResistor. And while all those titles are quite impressive when mentioned separately, imagine for a moment them co-existing within one person. Well, they do and we have to admit, she’s awesome. She’s well-spoken (and encourages you to be as well), she’s tenacious, she’s funny, super smart, loves beautiful things, respects fashion, and loves data… and we mean love!
Here are some of the things we enjoyed most from her talk:
Hilary calls New York City home. She was born and raised in the Upper West Side and believes that New York can be the new epicenter for tech. Though her career been a natural progression of numbers and data, her position at bitly (monitoring what people are clicking, reading, and sharing online in real time) has solidified her love for forecasting, quantification, and trend analysis — all things essential in today’s tech space. So, naturally, the room wanted to know: what exactly is everyone on the Internet paying attention to (other than the Kardashians of course)? We were happy to hear the Kardashian craze (kraze?) is on a steady decline. People are actually paying attention to sports, tech, and we have to tell you, cute dog images get more clicks than cat images.
Hilary joked by saying that when she first got bitly and began monitoring this data and quantifying what people were “watching” online, she experienced 3 emotional phases. They were:
- This is amazing.
- Humanity is doomed.
- The Internet has to be the greatest theatre ever created. (We believe she’s still here.)
We agree with that last one.
Moving on in the discussion we began talking about the future of tech and those who will play a part in it. Hilary mentioned her work at HackNY and shared that New York City needs better infrastructure in place that allows tech talent to flourish and not discourage young women from moving out of the space early on. Intro classes to Computer Science are severely lacking and place a greater emphasis on reiteration and regurgitation rather than creation and originality. That is why there are not as many women in tech as men today. Women are looking for ways to be unique problem solvers and industry leaders. This is likely why there is such an influx of female entrepreneurs moving into fashion tech. Women understand disruptive technologies, effective output and groundbreaking solutions but aren’t nurtured enough early on to learn the coding portion of the bigger picture. As an answer, Hilary urges greater access to apprenticeship programs, a revamping of current computer science academia (especially in the introductory phases) and career matchmaking.
As the breakfast event wound down Hilary wanted to make clear how much confidence she has in mentorship programs. “I’m a huge fan,” she says, and points out that men should get involved too. “Men are just as important if not more important to the movement of women in tech because there just are so many of them there already!” She also said that she wanted to encourage women to step out on stage and not to be intimidated by public speaking. She urges women to really think about the world they want to live in and move toward a vision where being a female developer isn’t something to gawk at, because that’s when the true rewards are reaped — when being a women in tech is no longer a a rarity.
We love the idea of dissolving the boundaries that currently exist in tech to include people from different backgrounds — whether you’re a woman or a person of color. One way we’re doing this is in collaboration with WIM for the Behind The Pitch event on April 22nd. We want people to really understand where financing is going as far as funding for startups. Be sure to stop by, meet some really interesting experts in the field and network with entrepreneurs just like you! Another group that’s taking strides in this direction this is the team at Apps to Empower. Here, women are invited to share their creativity and technical expertise to create a winning app in each of four categories to win prizes valued at $10,000. But join now! The deadline to submit your winning app is July 26.
Leticia Domenech is the Writing and Copyediting Intern at TWF. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.
Image via Businessweek.