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 sit down with Sybil Steele, CEO of Temme Media. With 20 years of experience in business, media production, and photography, Steele has spent the last two decades managing operations and producing films for Sipping Jetstreams Media. With a move to New York, Steele launched Temme Media as an immersive media studio dedicated to inspiring women’s journeys in learning and using virtual reality, augmented reality and other emerging technologies as well as helping brands understand and use these emerging technologies to create content specifically catered towards women. Currently a participant the NEW INC incubator within the NEW MUSEUM, Temme has partnered with a number of organizations focused on promoting women including Women2.com and The Wing, and is highly active in various women’s AR/VR industry groups.
Sybil Steele, Temme Media
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
I have been running a production studio and creating media over the course of the last two decades at locations around the world, while raising a young family with my husband. We have lived in California, Bali, Indonesia, and Byron Bay, Australia.
We decided to move to NYC and that was when I founded Temme Media (Tech + Femme), which while still within the ecosystem of film and video, embraces a broader entrepreneurial mindset in the still nascent industries of VR and AR. The origins of Temme evolved based on my own experience of having two daughters who are now teenagers and realizing that that the future of their technology and media experience needed to more empowered.
Our studio focus is to be a multidisciplinary resource for brands who want to understand how to use AR and VR and especially for the female market.
And the broader goal is to develop our media platform, which is still in the early stages but will explore VR/AR, as well as emerging tech content for females. I saw a white space in this market, not only in the need for female-focused content, but in the construction and shaping of this entire industry. As these are very powerful mediums with which we’ll increasingly communicate, I think it’s imperative that we are involved and developing the industry with all genders in mind.
It has been a wild ride but one I created with a few months of self reflection and a strategy to define where I could add more value and purpose for the the future feminine.
That’s an interesting question. We are in an exciting and delicate time. One aspect we’ve been looking at is how we can use VR and AR as a modality to educate. Interestingly, VR and AR are more relevant for encouraging empathy since they are more immersive tools than a screen. So augmenting one’s reality to feel another’s experience, whether bias or aggression or any gender bias issue, has the potential to be more deeply felt. It gives us the ability to explore media solutions to encourage a dialogue between genders to not only walk in someone else’s shoes, but understand what those alternate realities actually feel like. We do hope we can shift perspectives by role playing or interacting with technology first and then humanizing those lessons for real life interactions..
What are the advantages of being a woman in tech?
There is an incredible amount of support for women in business and tech right now. When I started Temme in the summer of 2016 I had no idea what sort of dialogue would emerge in politics, tech and media. It’s been monumental in both bad and good ways. The advantages at the moment are that I feel more support as a female business owner than ever before. Every corner I turn is a way to connect, improve, innovate, ask, give, and help. It feels like an abundant period though we have much work to do. At least the potholes in the road are on their way to being repaired, and specifically in technology, the need for more women and our input, is being seriously encouraged.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?
I think the biggest thing we need right now is real access and resources. New York City and the technology community provide some great programs focused on female entrepreneurs, and that’s essential. I think we all need to be working to consistently up the level of programming focused on supporting women in business and technology.
I’m also focusing on developing workshops for young women to understand how to be creative with emerging technologies that are relevant to their interests.VR/AR will be incredibly important vehicles for immersive content, and women need to be learning how these technologies can be used to develop media that is relatable to their lives and lifestyles. I watch the way my teen girls navigate their digital life. Can you imagine what is going to happen when this next level of immersion hits and they are in alternate worlds with layers and layers of augmented information? I think the more we focus on women’s experiences and dynamic worlds we’ll be able to encourage more interesting technology innovations. Particularly in the media space. I am constantly thinking about who is creating this messaging for young women? What is the messaging directed at them about what they should focus on, value, construct, and be?
What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?
Diversity is the encouragement and acceptance of variety of opinion, perspectives and stories about cultural upbringing and personal experience. It is one of the reasons we decided to raise our children all over the world instead of in one central home. We wanted them to welcome the world with an open heart and eyes.
In tech it helps the complete picture of what can truly manifest, and what should be brought to life. For example, what’s good for women is good for men. Women are helping to drive the economy with greater input and leadership. The tech, financial, advertising industries all need female leaders.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
I think we make incredible leaders and also again, diversity in leadership encourages better organizations for everyone. Often women are communicative, thorough and able to care about their livelihood in a way that is inclusive of profit but also broader than it, so without sacrificing the bottom line we can encourage more humanist organizations. I read a quote the other day and someone said Mom’s make the best entrepreneurs and I thought, yes, that feels good. The opportunity within a senior role is that you can offer a greater impact to further change, which we need in the world to make people’s lives better. It’s challenging and can be exhausting because women are usually also handling a lot of other responsibilities as well.
How do you see the future of teams and interactions in a diverse environment and what implications will this have?
We are still getting through the first phase of a dialogue of acknowledging that our systems need to change, and there is a lot of confusion, but I think once we get to a clearer understanding with better parameters in place that communication will be more fluid and we can thrive together. Growth and change are coupled with growing pains and that’s what today feels like.
How can women rise in the ecosystem and what are the unseen barriers?
I’ve always created my own companies and projects so I’ve had my own tables…I haven’t tried to sit at other tables with all the unseen barriers. That was never an option for me out of just wanting to create my own life, on my terms and in my own universe. Did someone not hire me because I’m a female? Maybe, and they were wrong there. But it was never a constant in my face situation that a lot of women have to face.
In larger companies and corporate culture I understand though what women have gone through because I’ve heard all the stories from friends firsthand. It is unfathomable we are in 2018 and this stuff still goes on, and that is also part of the discussion in technology.
To rise in the ecosystem I’d say to first and foremost trust yourself and put your foot forward while accepting that you deserve to be treated equally. That means taking care of yourself first and getting into the mindset that you can and will accomplish anything. Second of all, learn and read all you can. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter and just become a complete sponge for your industry, anything a man can do, you can do. The tricky part is balancing the incredible feats you can push yourself to accomplish intellectually while taking care of yourself physically. Also create your own company with your own mission, culture and ecosystem. You can start lean on the side while working your other job or you can go all in. I’m definitely a fan of creating your own ecosystem than rising up in someone else’s.
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
At Temme we are forming many partnerships and networks with incredible women in tech. To name a few we work with Women 2.0, The Wing and attend their Women Tech events, we are currently in the NEW INC incubator out of the NEW MUSEUM not only for our business and tech initiatives, but also our social impact of supporting women in VR. We love the Women in VR/AR FB group which has almost 10,000 members. Alice the A.I. platform by Elizabeth Gore has been a great resource as well.
What can men do to participate in this discussion?
A good handful of our advisors and mentors are men and they have been incredible to work with. The ones I know want to help, understand and grow to become more gender conscious. I know some are afraid to say the wrong thing or not sure of next steps, but real growth is sometimes a painful process and we will get through it. But you have to participate. I’d say it’s no longer a question of will you, but that you have to and when.
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.