Fashion Tech: A Dichotomy or Beautiful Pairing? Two Amazing Experts Tell It Like It Is

IMG_20170115_135951

Last week I kicked off my series of posts dedicated to the amazing people I interviewed on my fashion/beauty tech podcast at the NRF Big Show.  This week I’m excited to share with you the fantastic discussion I had with tech genius and fashionista, Amanda Parkes; and entrepreneur, tech boss, founder of SWSI: Smart Women Smart Ideas, and producer of Fashion Geeks & Queen Boss, Heidi E Lehmann  (phew, lots of accomplishments, eh?).

We chatted about the beginnings of wearable tech, why women are at the forefront of the industry, and how fashion tech brands will win in this market.  One of my favorite discussions focused on the role of women in tech, and how fashion tech is actually a great way to bring young girls into the fields of engineering and technology.  This conversation reminded me of a post I wrote a few years back about how to get girls interested in STEM.  I suggested that we have an opportunity to attract girls with tech if we introduced them to it, not just through typical “boy” spaces, i.e., video games, but, rather, through the world of beauty (Want More Women in STEM? Start with Beauty).

Amanda told us a story about an article she read in a tech journal bashing wearable/fashion tech as something frivolous and unworthy of attention.  She was so incensed that she wrote an op-ed demonstrating how vital fashion is for the economy, and in no way a lesser form of tech endeavor.  After all, each of us wears something everyday, right?  We all benefit from or contribute to the world of fashion in more ways than we know.  So true!  For better or for worse, it’s been the business of fashion that has fueled and dramatically changed the economy over the centuries — think silk trade, textile manufacturing, cotton crops, to name a few.  Of course you can’t help but think that there’s a degree of sexism at play.  Well, if fashion tech is is seen as too “fem” then BRING IT ON!  Let’s get our girls excited about tech, whether that means creating cosmetics or their own clothing designs.

For full 25 minute conversation, have fun listening to the audio podcast.

https://soundcloud.com/kathleen-kiley/show-2-beautyskew-mixdown-1

And if you want to see it via our Periscope livestream, here ya go…please mind the background sound:

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 11.58.32 AM

We Are All Too Sexy For UR Lab

toosexylab

There’s a lot of wonderful things I’ve inherited from my mother, including my desire for a strong family life (be both have 3 kids), a love for fashion and beauty, and the belief that women can kick ass in ANY career.  My mother is pioneer.  During the 60’s when most women were gearing up to be stay-at-home moms, my mother was the ONLY female receiving her PhD at MIT in chemistry.  And she didn’t stop there.  She become one of the most loved and highly prolific professors in the sciences at Wellesley College.  She started the computers/IT department and still works in her chemistry lab to this day.

So when I read the incredibly sexist statements by Nobel Prize winner, scientist Tim Hunt, I was shocked and disgusted.  Here’s a taste of his drivel: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.” (Via Daily Mail)

After decades of women rocking it in science, we still have to confront people like this?  More than that, Hunt obviously felt his statements had enough legitimacy that he could say them in public without anyone batting an eyelash!

As soon as I read the stories, though, I was equally moved by the reactions.  How did female scientists respond?  Did they shout criticisms on YouTube videos or write tearful Op-Eds?

Nope.  Even better.  They laughed at Hunt.

Women scientists around the world photographed themselves in their unsexy, sometimes disgusting uniforms and headlined their pics with statements about how obviously sexual and sensitive they are.  The pics were signed with the handle #distractingly sexy.  Hilarious! See some of the pics below.

Humor is the best reaction.  Not only does it make the point but it empowers us.  I’m so proud of these “sexy, sensitive” women.  They breaking are ceilings in their fields AND have enough confidence, humor and beauty to fight the system in a united way.

The fact that women used the very media that is often blasted for harming women’s self-image, i.e., photos and social media, could have raised some eyebrows.  But I think it’s perfect.  When women can show that they are not victims of digital media but can actually harness these tools for their own empowering messages, makes their statements that much more powerful.

Of course Hunt’s statements aren’t funny.  And the fact that he can publicize such opinions signals how far we have to go in the sciences to finally give women the opportunities they need.

But the fact that women can congregate and react so quickly and beautifully gives me major hope!

_83574130_ds311d59aaddacc291c0e54e344ca1f1312835a8c61distractingly-sexy-7Distractingly-Sexy