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Breaking the code: The women behind our AI

by Vanessa Sienkiewicz March 14, 2019

In the traditionally male-dominated engineering departments of Silicon Valley, AppZen’s R&D team is ahead of the curve. While only roughly 20% of engineers are women across big tech companies in the valley, here at AppZen, our R&D department (including data science, engineering and product) is 41% female.

Gender balance and diversity in business continues to be tied with positive economic performance, increased innovation, enhanced collaboration and deep customer understanding, so why are the numbers so low across the majority of tech companies here in the Bay Area? Women are underrepresented at the collegiate level in the STEM disciplines and therefore generally do not dive into science or math related fields. Imagine where we might be today in terms of technological advancement and social progress if gender balance and diversity in the STEM fields were encouraged for young girls. Here at AppZen, we believe diversity and balance drive innovation, passion and change.

We wanted to hear from our own women engineers, data scientists and analysts over their experiences and inspirations within the STEM fields.

Aubrey, Data Scientist

What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I really enjoy learning about statistics and there have been so many recent improvements in data science research and the field in general. I’m excited to be a part of it!

Who is your favorite female scientist or mathematician and why?

Gertrude Mary Cox. She’s one of the first influential women statisticians, and has done a lot of great research about experimental design, (one of my favorite statistics topics!)

Why do you enjoy being part of AppZen’s data science team?

I’m inspired by the people on my team to learn more about data science because they are incredibly knowledgeable.

Rachel, Front-End Engineer

What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I’m not a very artistic person but have always wanted to be able to create something visible and is used by thousands of people everyday. Writing codes to me is a way to combine problem solving, which is one of my passions, with creativity development.

Who is your favorite female scientist or mathematician and why?

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin; she was a pioneer in Stellar Astrophysics and was one of the first female professional astronomers who boldly went where no one has gone before.

Why do you enjoy being part of AppZen’s engineering team?

We help and teach each other without any hesitation. We are constantly learning and pushing each other to learn too.

Ella, Business Analyst

What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

Initially, I pursued a BA degree in Political Science and didn’t think much about going into a STEM related major because I wanted to learn about the world around me. While in college, I noticed that I really enjoyed the classes involving statistics because I saw patterns and relationships in different ways. In grad school, I liked working with data more than writing and decided to specialize in an analyst position for my career.

Who is your favorite female scientist or mathematician and why?

This question is quite telling because not many women come to mind when we think about accomplished scientists. The first woman scientist I ever read about in high school was Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist who developed the theory of radioactivity and won the Nobel Prize twice in physics and chemistry.

Why do you enjoy being part of AppZen’s product team?

I enjoy working with my teammates on projects and learn a lot because there are many disciplines in our department. I think the team is well balanced and I am happy to be a part of it.

Snigdha, Data Scientist

What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I initially started my BS in electrical engineering, but moved into computer science because of the large scope of innovation within the discipline.  AI is fascinating to me and I believe it will build the future. Having the opportunity to innovate and to be on the cutting edge of science is very important to me.   

Who is your favorite female scientist or mathematician and why?

Professor Leman Akoglu of Information Systems at Carnegie Mellon University. Her enthusiasm over data mining and her love for Information Systems motivated me to stay on the cutting edge and inspired me to pursue a career in AI.

Why do you enjoy being part of AppZen’s data science team?

I get the chance to innovate, learn, and I contributed from my first week which is all very exciting to me. I can see my efforts going into our product which is also quite motivating!

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Our engineers, data scientists and analysts are paving the path for other women to get involved in STEM related fields and are an inspiration to young girls who are drawn towards numbers and science over writing and the humanities. At this rate, we might see gender balance in Silicon Valley’s R&D departments in a few years!

Vanessa Sienkiewicz
Content Contributor

Vanessa is a content contributor at AppZen. She’s passionate about sociology and science and the powerful truths that both lenses provide

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