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Women in NYC Tech: Carol Barash of Story2

 

Are you a woman in NYC Tech and interested in participating in this series? Make sure to read the whole article…

Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector, be it as investors (or associates), founders, or in management positions at major companies. Is the problem the old boys network – or that success in technology is seen as a young man’s game?  In this series, we speak with some of the top women in tech in New York as they discuss the challenges they face, the perceptions that need to be changed and the work that’s being done – or not – to help to promote women in tech.

Today we speak with Carol Barash, the Award-winning author, educator, and serial entrepreneur, who has built solutions at the intersection of education, technology and community. Barash has created the first digital tools to connect humanities graduate students and the first online communities for HIV and breast cancer patients. Barash founded Story2 to empower people around the world to tell and share their stories–out loud and in writing. Barash participated in Kaplan-Techstars accelerator, partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative, Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room, and has been included in Forbes “10 EdTech Companies You Need to Know About” and “NYC Women of Influence”.

Carol Barash

Carol Barash of Story2

What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?

I’ve been working in EdTech for 20 years, starting as Assistant Director of the Princeton-Rutgers Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities. We developed tools for teachers and scholars—online OED, Shakespeare, Declaration of Independence. Next I worked developing online tools and communities in the marketing space, started and sold a company there and then worked for a WPP global marketing company, CommonHealth, creating online patient communities. I have a PhD in English Literature from Princeton, and taught English and Writing at Rutgers, where I received several awards for innovative teaching, trying different solutions to streamline the teaching of writing in large lecture classes, and worked as faculty advisor to the admissions committee. I was back in Education, running Development and Marketing for CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, when I saw first-gen students dramatically expand their success in securing highly selective jobs and internships. I did

What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?

Right now, the advantages of being an outsider and needing to go against the grain to achieve parity.

What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?

Starting in the youngest grades, teaching girls and young women that they can do anything and everything. Everyone needs to make concerted effort to change the default, white male assumptions of our industry. Diverse businesses do better financially, so it is imperative that these changes be made. Most fundamentally we need to change the dynamics of early stage funding: currently 19% of early stage funding goes to women-owned companies, and .2% to African American women-owned companies. Investors who change these dynamics will benefit.

What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?

Diversity is everyone’s voices are heard and everyone’s stories are part of the discussion when we plan and build products, companies and communities.

Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?

Because diverse companies and companies run by women perform better in the marketplace. Everyone benefits: customers, users and investors.

How do you see the future of teams and interactions in a diverse environment and what implications will this have?

Distributed teams can be more rapidly diversified, so this is a good thing. Maintaining living wages for individuals and families, providing benefits that ensure community health and vitality—we are going to have to work to create solutions that ensure everyone thrives in an increasingly gig economy.

How can women rise in the ecosystem and what are the unseen barriers?

Work hard; be a team player; and always be learning. This is the advice I would give to anyone. The problem with unseen barriers is that they put you at a disadvantage before you even know it’s happening. And it happens very early in life that girls are given subtle and repeated messages to be good and pleasant, not to rock the boat or upend the status quo. Girls are taught how to be liked; we try to make ourselves perfect, rather than getting things done and watching them play out in the world.

Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.

Pipeline Angels is fantastic. Angela Lee and 37 Angels run a really swift process, and add tremendous value teaching companies they don’t invest in. Techstars is promoting diversity. Lots of leaders—male and female alike—are working on this. The wheels are beginning to turn.

What can men do to participate in this discussion?

Men can hire more women, promote more women, mentor more women. And they can keep doing all of those things until we’ve achieved equality in tech. I don’t think that individual men meant to create these inequities, or there is some sort of conspiracy. It’s human nature to confer rights and goods on those who are similar to you, and that is what’s happened. At the same time the set of shifts that drive more diversity throughout our industry—not just gender equity, but race, class and sexuality—these shifts demand our full and shared attention because the health of our industry depends on it.


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The team at AlleyWatch believes it’s important to have an inclusive discussion around the challenges facing women in tech along with highlighting the work of the female entrepreneurs that have made NYC one of the best places for women in tech according to some recent studies. That’s why we are running this series that showcases women in tech in New York.

If you are a female founder in NYC working in tech and interested in participating in the series please visit this link or click on the image above.

Please feel free to pass this on to any women in NYC that you feel should be considered for the series. Thank you.

About the author: AlleyWatch

AlleyWatch is the destination for startup news; opinions and reviews; investment and product information; events reported, experienced, seen, heard and overheard here in New York. But it’s who we are that makes us different: we’re the writers and the entrepreneurs; the investors and the mentors; the lawyers and the marketers; the realtors and the recruiters – the people who work in the industry.

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