Kieran is the CEO and Co-Founder of Textio, the augmented writing platform. Textio analyzes job posts and outcomes data collected from around the globe to find the patterns that cause posts to succeed where others fail. As you write your job post, Textio provides the data you need to get it right the first time. Prior to founding Textio, Kieran held product leadership roles at Microsoft and Amazon. Kieran has a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Fortune, Re/code, Slate, and the Washington Post.
With groups creating programs to encourage females to consider STEM, what is the biggest barrier to entry that is still prevalent today?
It's not as much a barrier to entry as it is to continuation. Lots of girls like math, learn to code, and even enter college with plans for STEM majors. It's what they encounter later on that slows them down.
If there are barriers to entry, I think it's because from a young age, it's still acceptable to describe a girl as being "not a math person." You don't hear many boys self-describe this way, or many teachers describing them that way. But it's still all to common for girls.
The thing that is super lame about this branding ("not a math person") is that it really aims at the heart of someone's identity. We jump so fast from "had a tough time on that math test" to "not a math person." The first is about one specific event; the second is about someone's core identity.
We do that a lot to girls: not a math person, not a computer person, not technical. We don't bother to say that about boys, even when they don't really like math.
What or who inspires you?
My daughters inspire me. I have three, all in elementary school. They're very different people with different interests and strengths. But they're all confident in who they are as individuals, and are proud of what they're great at. Because they're so close in age, they understand each other's respective talents pretty well and they do a good job of celebrating those for each other.
I coach girls' basketball (all three of them are on the team) and have for many years. Every girl I have coached has inspired me! It's rewarding and fun to watch kids improve over the source of a season as they put in energy and effort and see what they are able to do.
What is your proudest moment/accomplishment?
I am mostly proud of the risks I have taken. I am proud that I left academia for a career in technology, and I am proud that nearly a decade later I left a cushy corporate job to start Textio.
I am incredibly proud of what Textio has become and accomplished since we founded it three years ago. We are making software that a billion people are going to use and it is going to change the way people write. We've built an amazing team to do it.
I'm proud of all the marathons that I've run too, and proud every time I set a new personal record!