Women, the Workforce, and What Tanda Uncovered
Kelsey Stay is a Web Developer and Graphic Designer working at startup company Cohort Solutions. Cohort Solutions helps international students get their affairs in order while remaining safe upon arrival to Australia. In 2014, she was selected to participate in the Startup Catalyst Tour, that sends 20 young tech entrepreneurs to the headquarters of Facebook, […]
7 May 2015 — read
Kelsey Stay is a Web Developer and Graphic Designer working at startup company Cohort Solutions. Cohort Solutions helps international students get their affairs in order while remaining safe upon arrival to Australia. In 2014, she was selected to participate in the Startup Catalyst Tour, that sends 20 young tech entrepreneurs to the headquarters of Facebook, Google and 500StartUps just to name a few. She was one of the competitors in Tanda’s Annual Open Data Hackathon, encouraging young techies and entrepreneurs of Brisbane to aspire and create great ideas. The hackathon participants uncovered some interesting facts about women in the workforce. She sat down with Meredith McLean from Tanda, to talk about the experience and her thoughts on women in the tech industry. M: Thanks for sitting down with me for lunch. Not a problem at all. But I’m currently having what I call Analysis Paralysis. When you have all these different food options and you have to decide what you’re going to have in a short time. And you panic because everything looks delicious and freeze up, then can’t make a decision. (Laughs) M: (Laughs) I love it. I’ll have to borrow that one next time I’m out to lunch. So, what got you interested in the hackathon? I know Tanda from previous experiences. I went on the Starter Catalyst trip with Alex Ghiculescu, one of the directors of Tanda, so thats where I met them. Previous to that, when I was studying at QUT I had met some of the other Tanda guys as well without realising they had all ended up at Tanda. We did another startup weekend a few weeks back, and were all quite keen on hackathons and anything tech we can get our hands onto. It was also that they actually organised it that gave us a chance to just rock up and enjoy the experience. M: Were you surprised when you noticed you were one of only three women participating in the hackathon? Not really. I think I did pick up on it. I did look around the room to see if there were many other girls. But its not really surprising. I’m just used to being surrounded by guys basically. (Laughs) M: Do you get that a lot in the office as well? Well our office is pretty good. We’re quite diverse and multicultural. There are a few more guys than girls, but its just because were quite a small office. I’m one of the developers so the other woman is business operations. It’s well balanced. M: Were you surprised by any of the facts that came out from the hackathon? One was women arrive to work earlier but men will often stay back later. Not particularly, if you look at it you could assume women tend to go home because generally they are the primary caregivers. Whereas, generally men can stay back because they have the opportunity to. I fall more into the male category, I rock up sometimes a little bit later (laughs) but I usually stay back because I don’t have anything else to do. M: What are your opinions on women often being primary caregivers, while working and still having to go home and take care of other duties? I think it is changing, and becoming more balanced. It’s just a generational thing and culturally, at one point the logical conclusion was to have one parent in the home. And because of the physiological requirements it happened to be the women caring for children. But now that we don’t have to go along that path anymore its changing. My boyfriend wants to be the stay at home dad, he wants to be the primary caregiver and I’m happy to go along with that and i’ll be the person who brings home the bacon. I think its just a cultural shift. M: And what was it like going overseas on the trip and seeing Facebook , Google and all the others? It was amazing. My favourite point was walking into the Facebook campus and its just wow. You feel like you’re in disneyland for a techie. The whole culture over there is completely different. You dont have to explain what a software developer is. Actually, over there you get the name engineer. Theres a completely different approach to it. It was really interesting to see how they approach the whole tech industry over there compared to here in Brisbane. if I tell someone I’m a software developer or that I code they might not even have any idea what that is, and I’ll have to explain what that entails. M: What was it like trying to do the hackathon in 2 hours, with the mad dash to get something up and running? It was actually quite funny, because I really like the high pressure environment of hackathons. When you’re coding for a long time you get in that groove, and the longer you stay in that groove the longer you can stand long runs of coding. The accomplishment that you feel at the end knowing that you’ve put in such a big chunk of time and then to see it work is such a good feeling. But it was funny because on the Friday night I pitched 4 different ideas,.Then we ended up choosing one that’s pretty much like Tinder for Tanda called TandER. Basically when you clock in you’d get a selection of 9 faces, and you could choose people with similar interests that you might like to go to lunch with. Then it would figure out when people are going to lunch and pair you up with that person who has similar interests and availabilities. Then I woke up the next morning and thought what would be really cool and probably easier with the dataset we had is automatic roserting. So using the data to instead of getting people to figure out conditions and make sure everyone’s working enough to just automate rosters and get better results from the employees. M: I love the tag Tinder for Tanda. How did you feel at the end of it? We got an honourable mention, so i guess you could call that second place? We won a free business lunch with Tanda because they’re doing similar things and might want to work with us. There was also the Spirit of the Weekend award, I didn’t know until the very end during pitches but there was a high school team there. That was really cool to see they got similar statistics to the older teams. Which is great for them to confirm their abilities. Then there was the Best Selfie award. Which I had to apologise to the girl who won it, because the printed selfie on the shirt she won was actually my idea. So now she’s got this awesome shirt with her worst selfie ever that she’s never going to wear anywhere. But it was really cool to see some of the other StartUp Catalyst people on the winning team. M: Yeah, the winning team Two Weeks Notice was so professional in that pitch. it was great. Oh, thats just the way Matthew Brown is. He’s very business oriented and charismatic. He can really get you excited for whatever it is he’s talking about. M: Maybe not specifically at the hackathon, but have you ever had any reactions when you say I’m a female coder? I’ve actually been reading a lot of blog posts lately where people say that they say they’re a female coder and people laugh or don’t take them seriously but luckily I haven’t had that yet. I’ve never had a surprise look or a “Really?” reaction. It’s always been “Oh, thats cool”, and its really positive and encouraging. M: It’s good to see there are positives coming through now, and the reactions aren’t so ridiculous. I’m sure I will encounter it at some stage in my career. But I’ve been really lucky to surround myself with people who are positive and encouraging. M: What future plans do you have for yourself or the business? Well, I’m currently at Cohort Solutions and I really see that succeeding so I’d like to stay there for a while. I’ve been with them for a while, but eventually I would like to have my own startup and bring my own ideas and help change the world in my own way.