Women in Tech: Interview with Maddie Davis, Co-founder of Enlightened Digital
“Making tech more inclusive to females starts with the females who have already established themselves. Making change happen is our responsibility”
Here at Shadow, we’re passionate about attracting, attaining and supporting more women in tech. We’re members of WISE and our female employees are encouraged to take some time away from the office to share their career story with students particularly young girls.
We also love connecting with like-minded people or organisations who share the same ethos hence we’re delighted our paths crossed with Maddie Davis, a tech-obsessed female from the Big Apple and Co-founder of Enlightened-Digital. Her well-nurtured US-based digital magazine is dedicated to offering a unique perspective on current trends and upcoming developments in the world of business and technology and how these changes affect business growth and professional development of women.
Shadow was able to grab a refreshingly open and honest interview with her and our 10 hard-hitting questions include how the gender gap and fear of robotics impacts the US compared with the UK, facing gender discrimination when climbing the tech career ladder, networking for introverts and how tech can be more inclusive to females.
Q 1: How did the idea to co-found and create Enlightened Digital (a digital magazine dedicated to the top tech and business news) come about?
Sara was my supervisor at my first internship out of college. In a predominantly male office, Sara and I worked closely together and quickly formed a friendship. Over the time we spent working together, we discovered we have a lot of the same interests in business and technology and its impact on different fields. We joked around for a while about starting our own site as we both enjoy writing but didn’t actually take the idea seriously until after my internship ended. Sara and I stayed in touch after I left the company, and one day said to each other, “Let’s just do it!” We recruited a couple mutual friends as contributing writers and started brainstorming. We decided we wanted to create a site that not only kept readers informed with the latest tech trends and business news but encouraged them to develop their own interest in the topics. We aim to make our content digestible for readers of all backgrounds, not just techies. We’re lucky to have such a great team with diverse specialties to produce content in a knowledgeable and fun way!
Q 2: You mention on Enlightened Digital that your aim is to explore how changes in the tech industry can affect business growth and professional development for women. What would you advise females to do if they are concerned that a certain change may put them at a disadvantage?
Unfortunately this issue is something women in tech do have to be aware of to grow and succeed in their career. Should someone be put in a situation where they feel their opportunities are limited because of trends in the tech industry, I encourage them to seek help. There are so many incredible resources out there created by women who have been down the same path — Women Who Code and Women In Technology, for example. Keeping yourself up-to-date with current trends and qualities that are most in-demand by employers is also a great way to stay ahead of the game and gives you a leg to stand on should someone question your position. Women are incredibly practical when it comes to planning ahead and tend to pursue proficiency in whatever coding language is most valued at the moment. This sort of persistence is key in professional development.
Q 3: The UK tech industry is rapidly evolving particularly in robotics and AI. It calls for more diverse talent yet only 17 percent of UK tech workers are female. Do you find the gender gap is also an issue for you in the states?
The gender gap in the US is certainly a common issue; currently women make up only 24 percent of the computing workforce.There has been a great deal of discussion concerning the need for a larger female presence in the development of AI. Although it’s been a slow process, we are seeing some exciting developments! In the past year, three new major AI policy and advocacy groups formed with giant industry backing and fresh goals for changing the way AI is designed and implemented — and all are led by women.
Q 4: What do you think can be a barrier to having more women in tech and what can be done to help make tech more inclusive to females?
Being so vastly underrepresented in the tech industry, women are constantly facing barriers. I was incredibly fortunate to find a mentor after college whom I could look up to and seek out for any questions and issues I faced, knowing she had experienced the same thing. I think one barrier a lot of women face is a lack of guidance in the field, and that can have a major impact on confidence. It’s so important to have an inclusive environment in the office to keep yourself confident in your abilities and comfortable enough to explore the numerous paths this industry has to offer. I think a good step in making tech more inclusive to females starts with the females who have already established themselves. Making change happen is our responsibility and we’re so much more capable than we realize.
Q 5: Have you ever seen or personally experienced gender discrimination in the tech industry? If so, how do you think situations like that should be handled and what can women do to stop it from demotivating them?
I think most women have experienced some form of gender discrimination in one way or another. Some industries are certainly worse than others and people handle it differently. In my personal experience, I’ve found the best way to handle any discrimination is to get out in front of it by speaking up for yourself and bringing the problem to the attention of those in the position to resolve it. Speaking out and reminding yourself and others of your worth can make all the difference in motivation.
Q 6: What top three pearls of wisdom would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? Is there anything you wish you had known?
My best advice for women considering a career in tech is to treat this journey as you would any other dream. If tech is really your passion, don’t let negative presumptions drag you down! If you focus on being yourself and producing your best work, the results will show. Stay informed on what leaders in the industry are talking about and find ways to insert yourself in those topics. Maintaining a hunger for learning is essential in this industry, so always be looking for ways to improve yourself and keep reaching for your goals.
Q 7: We know the power of networking but what advice would you give to females who are more introverted?
Networking is such an important aspect to building your professional career. For those who are more introverted, I suggest starting small. Choose some industry leaders you look up to and follow them on all outlets. Pay attention to what are they tweeting, what are they speaking about, etc. Finding a strong role model is great for building confidence and gives you something to talk about when forming relationships with others in the field. Building on common interests and trends you’re following is a great entryway to conversation.
Q 8: What more can women do to keep on top of what’s happening in the industry? Are there any other resources or tools you recommend?
Read everything! I typically start my day perusing TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and Recode along with our Twitter and Facebook feed. Following along with the latest tech topics on social media is a great way to stay up-to-date with hot topics in a condensed form so you can pick and choose what to follow up on.
Q 9: There is a lot of scaremongering and misinformation in the press around robotics and AI leading to people in the UK feeling threatened. Is it more widely accepted in the states?
AI is such an incredible development. I think it’s taking people everywhere some time to really process its abilities. There are certainly some people in the US speaking out on their fear of the potential threats the technology presents. However, I think for the most part we are accepting it as a resource for improvement.
Q 10: How do you feel being a female tech entrepreneur? Do you have other goals you’d like to achieve within the tech sector?
I feel incredibly lucky. Being able to do what I love and share my passion with others is a major accomplishment that I never take for granted. Right now I’m taking things one step at a time, so my next goal is just to work on building out Enlightened-Digital to its full potential, providing a useful and insightful resource to our readers.