Amy Auton- Smith, $300K entrepreneur challenge prize winner and NYU Wagner alumni came to Leslie eLab on Jan 31 to speak on a forum to women from all different backgrounds about the challenges and satisfaction in becoming an entrepreneur and innovating the tech space.
"It is amazing to be around so many women and women of color who are interested in entrepreneurship: your expertise and unique point of view are needed out there."
UK native, Auton- Smith began her career as a corporate and securities attorney. She prides herself as a gender champion in law and decided to leave her job as the Chief Legal Officer at a major conglomerate as she became weary of gender biases perpetuated in the workplace.
"I wanted to make a change, I was tired of sitting around a table with people and always talking about diversity and inclusion- it was time to go and really do something about gender biases in professional environments."
After working as an attorney for over 14 years, Auton-Smith decided to take the leap and work as an intern at the United Nations. She developed research and analyzed the difference in how women and men were critiqued and scored during job interviews. She noticed a trend. While men were deemed driven, women would be categorized as emotional or too ambitious.
Amy went on to attend the graduate school of public service, studying gender bias in leadership. Upon completion of her program, she began her company FairFrame. As CEO of FairFrame, she brings cutting-edge tech and diversity and inclusion research together to help mitigate the effects of unconscious bias at work. The technology highlights managerial bias when scoring potential employees, and makes suggestions that turn unconscious biases into appropriate phrases.
We want to make sure that the pipeline to top leadership stays open to people of all demographics. During my career, I have seen so many women dropping out or being looked over for leadership positions that they deserved. Our diversity lexicon contains forty thousand words about gender and diversity that highlight the linguistic difference in how people are spoken about.
Auton-Smith went on to speak about how after being accepted into a tech incubator, one of the directors called her to tell her that he didn't think her group should have been accepted into the program. "I was thinking should I tell my team? I decided against it in the end." They went into the program worked extremely hard and ended with not one but three proof of concept agreements. “People are going to act as obstacles and put blocks in your way but don't let them be a hindrance to your growth and success.”
Amy is an inspiration to many and we appreciate the work she does to ensure biases at top companies are mitigated. In the future, she hopes to be able to use this technology in order to bring awareness to other types of discrimination based on age or sexuality.
Please join us at the Female Founders Forum on March 6 at Foursquare, RSVP at https://entrepreneur.nyu.edu/event/2020-female-founders-forum/