posted by on May 1st, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Showing up – Where are my ladies at?

Showing up – Where are my ladies at?

In case it somehow escaped your attention, there are zero women represented in this panel on Leadership in Software Development. As the primary organizer, and as a woman, this is a source of great frustration and deep guilt.

Many well-intentioned individuals and groups have taken this opportunity to remind me that there are a lot of women who develop software, including noted leaders in the field. So, why aren’t any of them on this panel, or on more of the technically themed panels that are consistently part of conferences, festivals, and other events?  

Especially since I, as a woman, reached out to several women we know across our wide network, how is it that not one single female developer either stepped forward or was put forward by their female colleagues? Women who excel in the field of software development are not just mythological beings on par with Athena or the Easter Bunny, but where are they when it comes time to represent? The point is not whether there are enough women across the tech industry to ensure that every panel ever organized has female representation. The statistics are widely known. Rather, the point is that there is not one showing up either on May 3rd, or on so many other, similar panels.

Public speaking is blatantly choosing to spend time contributing your expert opinion over other priorities. So, guilt comes back into the conversation again. Speaking on panels like this is a volunteer engagement, paid strictly in gratitude, the potential for a stimulating conversation, a sense of having contributed, and possibly some nice PR for the participants and their companies. But it is volunteered time away from the normal workflow, family and other personal commitments.

Countless studies, articles, anecdotes and conversations exist (here, here, here, here, here, all over the Internet, and here, and in my heart) around the idea that women are prone to feeling mountains more guilt than men, for anything, really, let alone doing something that could possibly be construed as selfish or self-interested, like speaking as an expert in a historically and currently male-dominated field, like, say technology.

Mostly, the decision about who will speak comes from within each company. I can ask, but as the organizer, ultimately, my request is simply that. While we know those companies employ talented, capable, and qualified women, the men filter through, and end up on stage. Tons of conversations exist around the question of why women are bad at self-promotion (here, here, here, here, here and here, just for starters), but lets just take the notion that we simply are, for now, as a given generalization.

We are all engaged in the much wider conversation within tech, and more broadly the sciences, about female encouragement, engagement, and advancement. Without quoting Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Hillary Clinton or my mother, I am primarily left chewing on why no women did step forward to be on this panel, or so many other panels being organized all the time. There is, as many have pointed out, a HUGE series of systemic issues that contribute to situations like this one. However, shaking our heads at the perpetuation of these problems without actively contributing solutions absolutely won’t do it.

Back in January, the suggestion was made that men should think harder about whether there are women they can recommend for a slot on a panel. Everyone should share their binders full of women far and wide. There’s no gold medal for being the individual to solve this first, so how about putting aside competitive reactionism, and just helping each other solve it collectively. Call it whatever you want – leaning in, stepping up, shouting out loud – decidedly more women need to speak up for themselves, and we all need to point out those who are already doing so.

I want to hold another panel, on the same subject, with all women. I want to hear female voices as expert contributors on more technical panels all over. So, if you are or know a brilliant woman who will make that choice and speak, show up… in my inbox.

posted by on January 30th, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Cookstr Partners with Unbucket for Launch of Collaborative Listing Tool

Cookstr is thrilled to be a launch partner for Unbucket, which launched publicly yesterday with the goal of shaping a web that doesn’t just connect us digitally, but a web that brings us closer together in the real world too.

Says Unbucket:

At Unbucket, we’re fascinated by recipes because they are so much more than a means to create food. Passed down from grandparent to parent to child, recipes link one generation to the next. On Unbucket, we’ve seen numerous list items inspired by this idea; we even wrote a blog post about one of them. Baked into recipes are physical experiences, often shared with others. How many dates have started in the kitchen, recipes on the counter? Sure, we love to cook, but our fascination with recipes comes from their ability to unite individuals and draw people closer. So when a dear friend of Unbucket, Myles Grosovsky, proposed connecting us with Cookstr, we leapt at the opportunity.

Cookstr’s mission is to organize the world‘s best cookbooks and recipes, and to make them universally accessible. They are actively setting the standard for innovation in the delivery of 100% trusted and tested recipes to home cooks around the world, authored by hundreds of the top chefs and cookbook authors. Thousands of recipes created by everyone from Mario Batali to Nigella Lawson to Jamie Oliver are available for free on

In particular, what we love about Cookstr is that they have an intense focus on turning recipes into a collection of data points. Each recipe on Cookstr is tagged with data across nineteen different categories, for instance Taste & Texture. Using their data-driven selection engine, together we created a variety of Cookstr x Unbucket recipe lists:

We look forward to many more opportunities to collaborate with Cookstr, and we hope you use these lists to make the recipes your own to experience, enjoy, and ultimately, share with others.

The Cookstr perspective:

Kara is the Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr. She handles everything from project management to overseeing licensing agreements with publishers and rightsholders. She also writes the awesome Cookstr newsletter (you should subscribe). Kara is on the board of Girls in Tech NYC.

1. Why were you excited to work with Unbucket?
At Cookstr, we aim to give people the tools they need to have better experiences around food. When it comes down to it, food is about relationships. And learning to cook is an exercise not only in sustenance, but in self-sufficiency. Those of us who love cooking know that we use it for experimentation, for meditation, for procrastination – and most of all, for celebration.

Unbucket shares Cookstr’s belief that the best technology is a means to an end: better, more meaningful real-world experiences. We think that recipes are a great example of a digital object that can drive the kinds of in-person interactions Unbucket wants to encourage.

2. Can you share a personal experience with a Cookstr x Unbucket list item?
I was on the phone with my mom yesterday, who lives halfway across the country, and she was telling me how excited she was about a new feature we launched recently on Cookstr, which allows you to save recipes into lists to help organize your cooking inspiration. She’s aiming to learn one new dish per week. My mom and I are planning a trip to Santa Fe together this spring, and we’re both going to cook Southwestern recipes from Cookstr while we make plans for our vacation. An Unbucket list is a great way to gather both the recipes we’re using as inspiration and our planned activities and destinations for the trip. This way, Unbucket memorializes not only the adventure itself, but the process of planning it.

3. In what way does Cookstr bring people closer?
We see an interesting barbell in our Cookstr demographic. On one end, there are individuals, mostly women, in their 40s and 50s, home cooks who are comfortable in the kitchen but always looking for more practical inspiration. We think they’re drawn by the curated content, which our recipe editors choose entirely from published cookbooks by chefs and authors. On the other end, there’s a younger demographic, 20s and early 30s, largely in urban areas, a generation who’s completely invested in learning how to cook from scratch, challenging themselves, and bringing their friends together for potlucks and dinner parties. They’re drawn by the chefs we have on our sites – names they’ve grown up knowing, from Julia Child to Mark Bittman. They trust the chefs they saw on their parents’ shelves, although they’re not likely to go back to the print cookbooks themselves.

Whether they’re parents getting a good dinner on the table five days a week or twenty-somethings trying to make osso buco for 10 in a thrifted dutch oven, Cookstr users understand that food is one of the most meaningful gifts you can share with another person.

(cross-posted from Unbucket)

posted by on January 4th, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Love Your Problems: A Parable

Whenever friends have expressed that they’re unhappy at work, the following platitude is inevitably uttered by someone luckier, “you should love what you do!” Some find comfort in this. Armed with a renewed sense that they’re entitled to quit their jobs and hit the streets in search of passion, they may even resign in order to pursue their dreams. These people are trust-funded.

Others, like me, offer up a “thanks,” and an eye-roll. Ideally, we’d all be over-joyed by every aspect of work, but finding that perfect role (if such a thing exists) seems like an untenable Disney fantasy. Landing a fulfilling job is the result of tenacity, serendipity and not totally blowing the interviews. “Loving what you do” hinges on a lot of good fortune.

Art Chang, CEO and founder of Tipping Point Partners, is in the eye-rolling camp. He posits that “loving what you do” is not the key. He’s held countless (okay, you can count them if you click here) jobs spanning from architect, venture capitalist, concert violinist, and cabinet-maker. From this experience, he explains that the pinnacle of satisfaction is to figure out the problems you most want to solve, and then make a career out of finding solutions.

Like all great life lessons, his advice comes in the form of an analogy. At some point in the mythical past, Art was reconstructing his home, a considerable undertaking which required digging a ditch through his back yard. On a fated afternoon, one of his laborers took ill. Not being one to sit idly by, Art seized a shovel and joined the other toilers in the fray. As the day progressed, they talked of ditch digging. The contractor had a problem – the ditch – and his job was to solve that problem by digging. Art worked alongside him until the ditch was dug, listening to the contractor explain each facet of the process, in awe of his commitment to his craft.

“We all have our ditches”, Art says. If you’re in finance, your problem is money, and you love to solve that problem. If you’re a writer, your problem is expression and you solve that by deciding what it is you want to tell people. Finding the problem you most deeply want to fix is your road to a happy career, and yes, maybe even to loving what you do.

As the first week of the New Year comes to a close, I hope you find some comfort in Art’s words. If you’re feeling anxiety at work and thinking it might be time for a fresh start, grab a shovel.

By Brie Schwartz