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Braintree

Meet the Women Tech Leaders at Braintree

If you are a Chicago based tech professional and you'd like to attend this event, please email events@powertofly.com to be considered for an invite.

PowerToFly has partnered with Braintree, a Chicago-based division of PayPal, that specializes in mobile and web payment systems for e-commerce companies including Uber and Airbnb, to present a special evening of networking and tech talks highlighting Braintree's women tech leaders. Can you join us?

Merchants in more than 40 countries worldwide can accept, split, and enable payments in more than 130 currencies using Braintree. Their amazing list of clients includes OpenTable, StubHub, Casper, and TaskRabbit. This is your chance to hear from and meet the women leaders and allies behind this innovative product.

This special gathering will be held on Thursday, September 26th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite #800, Chicago.


Agenda (subject to change):

  • 5:30pm - Check-In & Networking Begins over Light Bites & Refreshments
  • 6:25pm - Kickoff with PowerToFly
  • 6:30pm - Welcome Address by Archie Puri, Sr. Director, Product, Engineering & Data - Acquiring Products; John MacIlwaine, VP & GM, Braintree and and Ramesh Sarukkai, Sr. Director, Product & Engineering - Commerce, Merchant, Platform.
  • 6:40pm - Tech Talk featuring Jackie Koesters, Group Product Manager, Merchant Experience – Great Products. Great Art. Same Process!
  • 6:55pm - Flash Talk featuring Raymond Buhr, Data Scientist – Machine Learning in the Payments Industry
  • 7:00pm - Panel Discussion featuring
  • 7:20pm - Audience Q&A
  • 7:40pm - Networking over Light Bites & Refreshments

While you don't need to be looking for new opportunities in order to attend the event, Braintree is hiring. Their competitive benefits include daily catered lunches, Open Dev Days, a brand new MacBook, tuition reimbursement, a subsidized child care program, transgender health benefits, an employee stock purchase program and unlimited PTO.

You can read more about Braintree's stellar commitment to diversity and inclusion HERE.

About PowerToFly's 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 assistance to fully participate in this event, please email hi@powertofly.com, and we will contact you to discuss your specific needs.

Unfortunately, PowerToFly and Braintree cannot admit outside recruiters to this 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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