Tackling the STEM Gap with Hacker Sarah Austin

tweet-jam-SAP-1-2015-1-300x300In 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.

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.