Meet Women Working in Emerging Tech

ThinkstockPhotos-513495224_As software becomes the driving force of many solutions, open source concepts are letting more people build applications around blockchain – that’s according to CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook for 2018, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Seeds, a cryptocurrency startup that actively works to make the money system more equitable.

“Seeds is using blockchain technology toward the end of transcending the parts of capitalism that I believe are failing us — namely, institutionalized finance,” said Seeds CEO Rachel Cook, one of the women we interviewed for Women’s History Month who are working in different areas of emerging technology.

Institutionalized finance fails most of us because it’s originally zero-sum, Cook said. It makes us believe that for someone to win, someone else has to lose. Her company gives web and mobile apps a software development kit that lets them embed opportunities to pool money for people in need — while simultaneously boosting the app’s profits.

Through Seeds, people can redeem a token, using it to make a request for whatever amount of funding they need. “Obviously, no central entity is defining the value of any cryptocurrency, but we’re taking it a step further,” Cook said. “Each individual defines the value of a Seeds token when she redeems it. If enough contributions come in through the system within 60 days, she then receives that amount as a gift. I think personalization is an even bigger oncoming trend than we now see, and it should extend to money.”

Seeds initially focused on sourcing capital for microloans, because they’re a sustainable form of social good benefitting women ignored by traditional finance, but Cook saw an even greater opportunity to change what's broken about finance by building an entirely new system. “This probably wasn’t possible before the advent of blockchain technology,” Cook said.

Predictive Analysis, Fintech and 3-D Printing

Data scientist Ella Revzin said her industry is easier for women to break into and move up in once they’re inside than finance. As an associate director of data science at Precima, Revzin works on an R&D team that develops solutions and new algorithms for large retail chains, creating special targeting software, marketing campaigns and even looking at space optimization to help stores create ideal aisle arrangements.

“There’s machine learning, a lot of statistics, a lot of optimization and a lot of math using data,” Revzin said. “We’re also looking at data and how to best manage the data and how to glean insights from the data.”

Her company originated as an all-male startup, so many of the top positions are held by men, but there’s a good mix of women working their way toward leadership positions. She’s personally not afraid to negotiate for salary increases or speak up in meetings.

Revzin said there’s essentially no reason that there should not be more women in startups, it’s there’s just more men to start with. “You have this thing where like follows like, but it has nothing to do with a woman’s nature.”

That’s why women in fintech initiatives like FinTank WIFI exist, to focus on preparing women for significant career roles, leadership opportunities and entrepreneurship within financial technology. The group holds educational panels from leading experts, career and mentorship events, and networking and community events.

According to a study by EY in London, women represent just 29 percent of staff in the sector, said Kimberly H. Wolfson, who chairs the FinTank Women in FinTech Initiative (WIFI). At the same time, the International Monetary Fund suggests only two percent of bank CEOs are women, and a recent analysis of global patents suggests that only 15 percent of patents involve a woman inventor, with the share even lower in IT.

“We are focused on empowering women and supporters of our mission to conquer the fundamental barriers for women to universally impact our world through the fintech and finance innovation,” said Wolfson.

In the world of telehealth, entrepreneur Sarah Doherty co-founded TeleHealthRobotics, a company building the world’s first tele-robotic healthcare platform.

“With the THR platform, providers stationed anywhere in the world can interact with a patient and deliver actual medical services, in real-time, from a distance without personnel onsite with the patient,” said Doherty, who is the company’s CTO. That includes ultrasounds, done by remote technicians with the aid of the company’s first product, Tele-Robotic Ultrasound for Distance Imaging (TRUDI). TRUDI could be stationed with a patient for the exam in a variety of locations, including a military base, prison, disaster relief camp, pharmacy or clinic that needs supplementary diagnostic capability.

“TeleHealthRobotics’ vision to virtualize the healthcare provider pool with telerobotics will increase efficiency, lower cost and improve access, benefitting patients,” Doherty said. “This vision could also have substantial impact on growing gender parity in healthcare delivery by enabling providers of any specialty to deliver fully reimbursable care to patients around the world on a flexible schedule, while maintaining personal safety, satisfying religious constraint, managing child and family care responsibilities and overcoming geographical limitations.”

As a mentor for women and girls looking to advance their careers and education in the fields of STEM, Doherty said in order to achieve the utmost technological progress, we need to achieve equal representation, value and voice for women and men in all academic areas and at all levels of the career spectrum.

“Mentors and educational or professional champions play a key role in achieving this, so I was excited to learn about the CompTIA community’s initiatives in supporting females of all ages and providing opportunities for them to develop these empowering relationships,” she said.

To meet women working in technology and emerging tech, register now for the CompTIA Community Forum, set for March 20-21 in Chicago. At CCF, you’ll engage with many different communities, including Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) and Advancing Diversity in Technology (ADIT), and meet people working in different areas of emerging technology.

Michelle Lange is a writer and designer living in Chicago.