While some technology conferences made news claiming that finding women participants was a struggle, we here at rdigtaLIFE aren’t buying it. Not only is this site lead by a fierce female host, but it features numerous women who are making huge strides in todays wired world.
So in honour of International Women’s Day, we’re offering up 18 examples of outstanding women in tech as a small sample of the leading ladies in this field and what they have to offer.
Director Katerina Cizek is an Emmy-winning documentary-maker working across many media platforms. Her work has documented the Digital Revolution, and has itself become part of the movement. Cizek has been exploring complex, new forms of storytelling through transmedia projects at the National Film Board, including the extensive Highrise project.
“The human experience, and the human capacity for storytelling is huge; it’s part of our DNA,” says Cizek. “And as complex as DNA is, that’s how complex our capacity for storytelling is.”
Jennifer Sertl is a thought leader in the emerging field of corporate consciousness – the convergence of neuroscience and existential philosophy fostering inspiration and subsequently creating strategic advantage and enhancing value. As the digital strategist and founder of Agility 3R, Sertl stresses the importance of traditional sources of connection.
“My son, when he was four, he wanted to know, ‘Does your heart remote control people?’ Being human is kind of messy, in that there is no on and off button for feeling and emotion. I think it’s important to think about how we are teaching people what is human and what is technical, and I think it’s really important that we reinforce the usefulness of being human,” says Sertl.
Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer sits down with Ramona to discuss the concept of “mindfulness,” and whether technology is making us more or less engaged with our lives and surroundings.
“There’s a way to make an argument that these gadgets are making us more mindless, especially the easier they make things,” she says. “[But] there’s a way to understand that these gadgets are leading us to be more mindful, because we have to now think of new uses. We’ve changed the way we did things before. Just noticing things is the essence of engagement; engagement is what everybody’s seeking.”
Sherry Turkle, author of “Alone Together, Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” invited rdigitaLIFE into her home, to talk about community, technology, and the difference between a “connection” and a “relationship”.
“Winston Churchill says, ‘We build our buildings and then our buildings make and shape us.’ He was very close to Marshall McLuhan, who said, ‘we create our media, and then, in turn, our media makes and shapes us.'” quotes the MIT professor, social scientist and author. “Well, we’re building our cell phones and our cell phones are making and shaping us.”
Judy Martin is a work-stress management consultant who works with clients across all professional sectors to help them transform and channel stress toward creativity and innovation. She talked to rdigitaLIFE about how people manage their lives as technology blurs the line between home and work life.
“So if we’re living in a real time situation and we’re always on, we need to learn how to manage that, because if we don’t, we’re going to burn out. The question becomes, how do we navigate all of this sensory overload while managing our stress and cultivating resilience? That is the ontological question.”
Sadly, Martin passed away in January 2014.
Paige Arnof-Fenn is the CEO of Mavens and Moguls. A marketing expert and self proclaimed “startup junkie”, she was involved in Zipcar from the ground up, seeing it become an internationally recognizable brand. Arnof-Fenn explains that in the digital age, currency goes beyond green dollars. She says that trust has become a commodity, and your social capital speaks to how much people trust you, respect you, and like you.
“Today, currency is about your social capital, it’s about the quality of your relationships and the number of people who respect you, trust you, think of you, that open your emails quickly, that return your phone calls in a timely manner. And if you don’t have that social currency, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in your bank account.”
Former Microsoft researcher Alice Marwick talks about what it means to be a young person online, today, and the unique pressures that exist for teens living in two parallel worlds.
“In 20th-century US, for the most part, wealth correlated with social status,” says Marwick, who studies the social effects of the Internet and new media. “So especially in the United States, you have a really big drive towards consumer success and capitalist success within that framework. When you get into the virtual world, what ends up becoming the status quo is attention and visibility. It’s about how much attention you can command, and how many people are listening to you.”
Dr. Mary Donohue is CEO of the Donohue Mentoring System, which pairs CEOs with students. She is also a professor at Ryerson University and Dalhousie University. According to Donohue, trust has become a form of currency in the social media age because it is the one thing you can’t buy.
“We are totally switching in our economy,” she says. “We’ve gone as bad as we can possibly go. Leaders have lied, they’ve cheated, they’ve stolen. They’ve said, ‘I’ve lied, I’ve cheated, I’ve stolen,’ and no one’s put them in jail! Trust has become a form of currency because it’s the only thing that people can’t, and don’t, have. You can’t buy trust. And that’s where the Internet begins to play a really big role, social media begins to play a big role.”
Sonia Arrison is a bestselling author and technology analyst who has studied the impact of new technologies on society for more than a decade. The author of 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith, believes that persona will still be bound to who we are in real life.
“Inherently, we want to be more like ourselves,” she says. “We want to be healthier, we want to be better versions of who we actually are.”
Toronto-based blogger Lauren White has crafted an online persona for over a decade, calling herself “Raymi the Minx.” Her obsessive cataloguing of her life and daily dishing about whatever it is she’s been up to has actually become her life. She talks to rdigitaLIFE about her experience sharing her entire life online… and which version of herself is the real one.
“No one will know about you unless you’re online, unless you put it up there,” she says. “I’m constantly thinking about it, I’m dreaming about it, I have nightmares, I have anxiety, I check my rank every day like stocks.”
Rosalind Picard is the founder and director of the Affective Computing research group at the MIT Media Lab.
“So what people I think need to realize and an increasingly number of roboticists are realizing this, is that emotions–emotional intelligence is essential for any technology that is interacting with a human in a way that purports to be intelligent.”
Living in Manhattan, Barbara Pantuso couldn’t believe how it was that she lived four inches away from the apartment next door, and yet she didn’t know her neighbor. Searching for community, she started Hey Neighbor! social networking and sharing economy platform for getting to know your neighbors.
“People live on top of each other and yet most people do not even know their next-door neighbors and it struck me as odd that my door can be four inches away from somebody else’s door and I don’t even know who lives behind that door.”
Leigh Alexander, video games journalist extraordinaire, talks about community in the world of gaming… It’s a massive community, she says, and as more and more of the population identifies as “gamers”, it’s only going to get bigger.
“The biggest takeaway is the way that games are connecting us to one another,” she says. “They’re integrating with the way that we live our lives as a society and together. And this is even while most there’s portions of the developing world that don’t have computers yet. It’s going to get bigger!”
Val Fox is the director of the Digital Media Zone, a startup incubator at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto. Val talks to rdigitaLIFE about the collaborative nature of the current entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“The [Digital Media] Zone is filled with various companies, and they all interact, they all collaborate, they help each other to be better companies,” she says. “So eventually, they’re going to be able to make it on their own.”
“It’s all about the journey, when you think of entrepreneurship or innovation and starting something new. It’s not about the endpoint, and that’s the narrative we see right now in media everywhere, of the exit strategy and what was achieved and was the failure. But what we’re often missing is that journey.”
Erynn and Kyle stop by Ryerson’s DMZ to talk to Ramona about their live-stream theatre production Hamlet Live, and the Internet’s possibilities for theatre.
“People who come to see theatre in person are people who come see theatre in person. People who watch it online are a totally different set of people. They get the chat rooms and the Twitter feed, and they get to talk to each other during the show and get that interactive experience, whereas the people in the theatre get the live performance and the immediacy with the actors,” she says.
Meredith Perry is the founder of uBeam, a tech startup that beams electricity wirelessly to mobile devices using ultrasound technology, rendering traditional chargers redundant. Still in her early 20s, she has already been listed on Forbes “30 Under 30.”
Last but certainly not least is the host and producer of rdigitaLIFE Ramona Pringle.
“We need to have conversations about technology that have less to do with gadgets and apps, and more to do with people. To create a future that we want to be a part of, we have to talk about our relationship with technology, with each other, and with the world around us.”