In advance of today’s Twitter chat about STEM Inclusion, I chatted with Sarah Austin (@sarahaustin), former SAP Hacker of the Year, Forbes 30 Under 30, to find out more. Join TriplePundit, SAP and our esteemed guest panel on today at 8 a.m. PST / 11 a.m. EST – at #SAPYouthChat.
TriplePundit: Hacker of the Year – impressive. What did you do to get that title?
Sarah Austin: SAP awarded me the title for winning so many hack-a-thons in 2013. The secret to winning hack-a-thons is combining art direction and good marketing with the fundamentals of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
3p: What are you up to now?
SA: Combining data science, marketing and product management, I work with companies to define their marketing messaging and assess the strengths and weaknesses of their competition in a process called broad listening. I have one of the few marketing firms that combines natural language processing, big data and online media to automate market research and competitive intelligence.
3p: You are an example of a success story for women in STEM — Have you experienced any roadblocks along the way due to your gender?
SA: In 2012 when I was on Bravo’s Startups Silicon Valley, I was quoted as saying, “people get intimidated because this package doesn’t usually come with a brain,” and people have made fun of me for saying it. But I have a “frumpy outfit” that I wear sometimes because sometimes it’s easier to put on ugly clothes than dealing with the common assumption that a well-dressed woman in Silicon Valley isn’t smart.
3p: Are you working on any initiatives to help young folks achieve what you have achieved?
SA: CodingFTW is working on curriculums for youth, and while it primarily promotes female diversity in STEM, it is at its core about making software development approachable to anyone.
3p: STEM inclusion is really complicated. What is one action our readers can take to improve diversity in these quality jobs?
SA: Get involved in your community. Volunteer at a local nonprofit that is helping to create opportunity through workforce development.