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In Person Events

We Met Leaders of Two Fast-Growing Companies in NYC

PowerToFly was excited to host an evening of "cocktails and conversations" on July 17th that highlighted two fast-growing, New York-based companies.

Hosted at the gorgeous AWS Loft, located at 350 W. Broadway in the heart of NYC, and moderated PowerToFly's Lauren Hagerty, by our guests braved sweltering city heat for a night of networking with the teams from 2U, who are changing the way we approach education, and Plectica, creators of cutting edge visual mapping software.

As our guests arrived, they had plenty of time to snack on scrumptious bites and enjoy a glass of cooling white wine while networking with their skilled peers. Once we wrapped up our first round of networking, both 2U and Plectica provided overviews of their platforms, company culture and open roles. The night ended with plenty of more time to network (while waiting out a heavy duty thunderstorm).

Both 2U, Inc. and Plectica are hiring. Visit their pages on PowerToFly to learn more about their open roles..


2U, Inc. is a global leader in education technology that has been improving lives by powering world-class digital education. As a trusted partner and brand steward of great universities, 2U builds, delivers, and supports online graduate programs and certificates for working adults. The 2U team includes 2,800 individuals across nine offices worldwide who share a common belief in the power of higher education to transform lives for the better. 2U's amazing benefits include full tuition reimbursement, 401k matching, and unlimited PTO.

Plectica is changing the way people visualize and connect information through visual mapping software. Plectica is a simple and easy tool to map out and organize just about anything, inspired by how the brain works. Their clients include Uber, ADP, and GE.

The AWS Lofts are a place where startups and developers can meet over coffee, work on their apps, attend educational sessions, and get in-person answers to AWS technical questions – all at no cost. Gain hands-on experience through free technical workshops on serverless, containers, IoT, and more. Or, sharpen your business acumen by attending best practice sessions that include PR, legal, and fundraising. Plus, network and learn first-hand from other hot startups, VCs, and accelerators.

Our guests are arriving!

Attendees network with members of the 2U team.

The Plectica team.

Attendees had a chance to network over food and drinks.

A look at the wonderful AWS Loft.

PowerToFly's Lauren Hagerty kicks off the night.

2U presented their platform and company culture.

More from the 2U team.

The Plectica team discussed their product.

More from the Plectica team.

A packed house!

AWS Loft even has their own TARDIS!

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Why Female Presidential Candidates Are Still Told to Be Chill, Not Shrill

The Dated, Everyday Tech Stifling Women's Voices Shows the Importance of Diversity in Tech

"You're not like other girls. You're so...chill."

I've gotten that "compliment" from multiple guys in multiple contexts — and I'm ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I took it as one.

Occasionally I'd wonder why. After all, anyone who knows me well knows I am the Anti-Chill: a tightly wound stress ball, ready to explode into tears at any given moment.

So what was giving these guys the wrong impression? As it turns out, it was my voice. My cool, unnaturally-deep-for-a-woman, never-shrill voice.

And if I'm honest, I always prided myself on not sounding 'like other girls.' No uptalk or high-pitched squeals of glee from me. I thought I sounded smarter and more serious. Talk about internalized misogyny.

This isn't just me though. There is a societal double bind that forces women to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the right pitch and tone for each situation.

Just consider the advice that Democratic-debate coach Christine Jahnke gave female candidates to avoid being labeled as shrill: "… go slow and low. Very purposefully slow your pace and lower the tone a bit, because that will add meaning or gravitas to whatever it is you're talking about."

In a nutshell: try and sound chill, not shrill.

What I didn't know, until recently, is how this bias against women's natural voices is being reinforced and amplified by century-old technology. (Just one of many examples of how technology designed by and for men ends up hurting women in the long-run.)

Author Tina Tallon explains this little-known fact in her recent New Yorker article, summarized below:

How 20th Century Tech Is Holding 21st Century Women Back

With the rise of commercial broadcast radio in the 1920s, women's voices began getting critiqued. As Tallon explains, station directors asserted that "women sounded 'shrill,' 'nasal,' and 'distorted.'" So when industry standards were set, directors didn't take women's voices into account.

When Congress limited the bandwidth available to each radio station in 1927, station directors set a bandwidth that would provide the minimum amount of information necessary to understand "human" speech.

They used lower voices as their benchmark, so the higher frequency components of women's speech necessary to understand certain consonants were cut, making women's voices less intelligible.

  • Researcher J.C. Steinberg asserted that, "nature has so designed woman's speech that it is always most effective when it is of soft and well-modulated tone." He explained that if a woman raised her voice on air, it would exceed the limitations of the equipment. As Tallon says, "He viewed this as a personal and biological failing on women's part, not a technical one on his."

Why You Should Care

Women have always been told to lower their voices, but this 20th century approach to sound frequencies is still accepted as the standard, literally forcing women to lower their voices if they want to be heard.

  • To this day, many algorithms and speakers distort women's speech by limiting higher frequencies, causing women's voices to lose definition and clarity.

Tallon sums it up well:

"Consequently, women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don't show too much emotion. By following that advice, women expose themselves to another set of criticisms, which also have a long history: they lack personality, or they sound 'forced' and 'unnatural.'"


----

So as we continue to grapple with implicit biases against women, from what it means to be "presidential" to who's considered an "innovative leader," let's remember the importance of diversity in tech.

Had a woman been involved in researching/setting the standards for radio frequencies, she might've been able to steer the industry towards a voiceband that would allow men and women to be heard equally well. And perhaps had a more impartial voiceband been established, I'd have heard a more diverse range of female speakers growing up, and internalized fewer biases myself.

That's why we care so much at PowerToFly about making sure cutting-edge companies have diverse teams.

Times were different then, sure, but the fact that Depression Era standards are still impacting how we hear (or don't hear) women's voices is a vital reminder that what we do today impacts our world for centuries to come.

Agree?

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