Malous is the CEO and Founder of Magnify Progress, a social activism platform. Magnify Progress is a social network that helps scale activism, curate calls to action, and recruit leaders for causes. Malous has been working closely with activists, non-profits, and experts to create impactful change. Prior to founding Magnify Progress, Malous held product leadership roles at IBM Watson and a Silicon Valley technology startup and was previously a software engineer. Malous received her B.S. in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College and her M.S. in Chemistry from Northwestern University.
With groups creating programs to encourage females to consider STEM, what is the biggest barrier to entry that is still prevalent today?
I believe many of the barriers to entry are starting to disappear, and the issue is more about keeping females in STEM fields. My niece is 7 now, so I see the tech toys she plays with and the Girls in Robotics summer classes she takes, and I think that the focus on engaging young girls in STEM has been largely successful where these programs exist. However, I think that between the fun entry point into tech, and actually building a career, there is too much drop off. There are many reasons for this:
Social Expectations - When girls begin struggling in math and science, people around them are quick to attribute it to a lack of skill or ability. When boys struggle, they are expected to work through the issues and learn it. We tend to let girls quit when things get hard instead of helping them learn and succeed.
Existing Mentors - Because there are more men in visible positions in STEM, it is harder for girls to find mentors that inspire them to believe in themselves. I think this is continuing to improve as more women join tech companies and build their careers.
Workplace Environments - There is not always a strong support system for women in tech jobs once they get started, and many factors may contribute to them leaving. Unfriendly culture, lack of opportunity, glass ceiling, and desire to start a family are all potential factors, but unlike men in tech, social norms work against women and they leave at a 45% higher rate than their male counterparts.
What or who inspires you?
The women in my family inspired me to pursue tech. My mother, cousin and aunt work across different STEM fields - medicine, computer science, and chemistry - and they made it feel like anything was possible with focus and dedication.
What is your proudest moment/accomplishment?
One of my proudest moments was winning second place in the Tech Crunch Hackathon. This was my first hackathon, and I was working with friends and had come up with an idea called Safe Route based on my time traveling alone in new cities as a woman. Winning 2nd place out of 168 teams, and being invited to come back and present to the full Tech Crunch audience was a thrilling experience.