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An Invite-Only Evening for Women in Tech with American Express Unit CIO Licenia Rojas

Please join us to meet and hear from Licenia, a 20-year veteran of American Express who has led large-scale projects across the company while acting as the Global Development Committee Chair for the Women in Technology Network. Licenia will be joined by women and male allies from American Express who will be sharing how they're building inclusive environments, while innovating products to fuel company-wide growth.

Since this is an exclusive, invite-only event, you'll also have the opportunity to network with top women in your field and team members from PowerToFly.

We will also be offering complimentary headshot photos for all attendees.

Agenda (Subject to Change):

  • 5:30pm - Check-In & Networking over Light Food + Free Headshots
  • 6:00pm - Event Kickoff with Caroline Turner, PowerToFly's Chief Revenue Officer
  • 6:05pm - Keynote Address from Ileana Figueroa, VP, Technologies at American Express
  • 6:15pm - Product Demo(s) + Q&A featuring American Express Women Tech Leaders
  • 6:35pm - Fireside Chat featuring Licenia Rojas, American Express Senior Vice President and Unit CIO, Global Services Group; moderated by Caroline Turner
  • 6:55pm - Audience Q&A featuring Licenia Rojas and American Express executives including:
    • Cheryl Rico, VP, Unit CIO at American Express, Global Consumer Services Technology at American Express
    • Dean Vocaturo, VP/GM -Network Engineering & Optimization at American Express
    • Ileana Figueroa, VP, Technologies at American Express
  • 7:20pm - Closing Remarks
  • 7:25pm - Networking resumes over Light Food + Free Headshots

Although this is a networking event (you don't have to be looking for a job to attend), American Express is hiring. Their amazing benefits include up to 26 weeks of paid parental leave, flexible work arrangements, Healthy Living wellness programs, tuition assistance and great medical coverage. Learn more about American Express including their open roles by going to their page on PowerToFly and clicking "follow."

Check-In: Please bring a photo ID and provide the name and email address you registered with on Eventbrite upon check-in at the event.

Parking: Free parking is available in the Amex Parking Garage.

Create Your Free Profile on PowerToFly.

About our Events: All RSVP'd attendees are welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, or age. If you require accommodation to fully participate in this event, please email hi@powertofly.com, and we will contact you to discuss your specific needs.

Unfortunately, PowerToFly and the company it is holding an event on behalf of cannot admit outside recruiters to that particular event. Please email hi@powertofly.com if you have any questions about this policy.


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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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