First, Tia Coachman is a badass diva! She is on the Vox Siren board and upon learning about the Super: Women in Tech Live Storytelling Event - she said I bet folks at Wieden and Kennedy would be interested in partnering on this. Then, she did what all excellent leaders do, she got good people in a room, provided direction, encouraged discussion and then magic happened. Together we designed a coloring book, unlike anything out there! A coloring book that has the mastery of graphic design that comes from the talented W+K folks and is paired with the witty writing style of B. Frayn Masters. Next, she found us Saira Weigel, Executive Producer of Animation and Digital Asset Production, to be one of our storytellers. Tia is an ignitor and without her this would not be possible.
Vox Siren is constantly thinking about how to create inclusivity, uplift all women's stories and learn from our mistakes. It was extraordinary to work with a marketing agency that understood the power of these values.
This inspired us to ask Tera Hatfield, Design Lead, at The Lodge at Wieden+Kennedy, more about what and who they valued in the technology field.
The Lodge -- it was established to shake up the way creativity works with technology. This team of curious-minded experts in machine learning, interaction design, real-time graphics, architecture, sensor technology and other emergent parts of technology are focused on using tech to solve human problems, bridging the gap between a brand’s purpose and their customer’s reality, and creating experiences for brands that are less expected and more magical, joyful, and provocative.
Who are some women in tech that you respect in the PDX area and at Wieden+Kennedy?
Oh dear, there are too many to name—many of whom excel in relative anonymity—but make no mistake, Portland is stacked with talented women in design and technology, and I will damn well try to name them all and fail miserably. The women in technology I know and love tend to be versatile—slaying not only in conceptual design, thinking, and making but also in development and engineering of products and experiences that are inclusive and that murder expectations.
The lady bosses you likely already know and lurve—Heather Champ, Tiffany Beers, Kelley Roy, Jessie White, Tina Glengary Cordes, and Colleen DeCourcy. Each of these women do something very different under the auspices of "technology," and are helping to shape the future of this broad and creative field.
Other ladies that float my technological boat: Traci Sym, Stephanie Dunx, Traci Sym, Erica Warren, and Stephanie Duncker. At W+K, I get to work with young and crazy talented women who will some day in the not too distant future rule the creative tech world: Manxue Way, Jes Marquez, Claire Wilson and Lindsey Murphy.
Lastly, I'm also part of a small, nimble crew of women that organize Ladies Night—a quarterly happy hour for digitally-minded, female-identifying folk, committed to conversation, collaboration & community. Even just a few years ago, it wasn't easy to find other ladies in this field. This quarterly event ensures when you're a lady in tech and design, you're never alone. Etch these names into your memory and say hello to them at the next event: Jordan A. Smith, Emily Plummer (of donut.js), Aimee Reed, Gina Giampaolo, Ginger Craft, Mary Blalock, and Sarah Cespedes.
Do you have a woman you admire, look up to in science, engineering, technology or mathematics?
I grew up in a blue collar family. I didn't really see or hear about women in technology, science or engineering in general. I still remember a fifth grade visit from a long-haired, well intentioned male engineer from Microsoft who made the epic journey across the Puget Sound too woo us with tales of lunchtime cookie buffets and relaxed dress codes (no shoes required?!) that all made us ooh and aah. Anything went at this crazy new workplace! Except if you were a girl, apparently they had none. When I asked if a girl engineer could visit—he blandly stated there weren't any women in his department.
I'm an odd ball tomboy born in the early 80s—obsessed with the films of Spielberg, Gibson novels, Punky Brewster, Spiderman comics, Oregon Trail on the Apple II, and the heartbreaking promise of the Nintendo Power Glove. I grew up watching plucky hacker kids solving mysteries with computers on Whiz Kids, Bill Nye and Mr. Wizard doing untold number of amazing experiments in their backyards. This was a present and future I could nerd out on, but there weren't that many women characters that I connected with.
Childhood heroes included astronaut Sally Ride and Gillian Anderson's Agent Dana Scully of the X-Files but it wasn't until I was older and stumbled across an article here or there that I discovered throngs of women that have made a dent in the world. My top three favorite?
Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Goble Johnson, and Susan Kare. Look them up! They've done and made wondrous things.
What is the most diverse teams you have worked on? What did diversity bring to the end product?
The most diverse teams I've worked on are often self initiated side projects with other women.
In more recent professional settings, W+K's the Lodge has been a breath of fresh air. We have folks from incredibly diverse professional and cultural backgrounds and we have 4-5 female creatives working as designers and/or engineers. That said we still have a long way to go. The Lodge is involved in development programs like Code2040 and Ladies Night among others and are actively looking to even the gender split as we grow.
When you have a non-homogeneous team stacked with diverse individuals—the solutions are always 100% smarter, more innovative, nuanced and inclusive. Google it, there are too many Harvard Business Review articles to prove it.
What excites you about the future of the tech industry in PDX?
Portland's tech industry is clearly beginning to flourish with businesses like Google, Smith Optics, UnderArmour, and AirBnB (among others) moving to Portland. More importantly, this city has a solid foundation in innovation, higher education, smart infrastructure, and material sciences thanks to forward thinkings citizens, designers, policy-makers and home grown companies like Nike.
Pointed applications for VR and AR as well as advances in smart infrastructure, material science and nanotechnology that meaningfully connect our digital and physical lives are what get me stoked.
More importantly though I think Portland has a real opportunity to be the first city to begin to truly democratize technology—to learn from the mistakes of other cities, to truly provide access to the tools that are defining the future to the most unlikely citizens, to engage people of color in meaningful ways, and perhaps most importantly... to remain open and inclusive in its problem-solving instead of turning inward towards isolationist projects and opportunities for 1 percenters. We have real problems to solve, big and small, and we're going to need all the heart and brain-power this city can muster.
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