Spotlight on: Women & Minorities in Tech

Exploring the lives of tech business owners pushing for progress

 Women and minority groups continue to be disappointingly underrepresented in the technology field. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), women make up a mere 36% of the tech industry compared to almost half  (48%) of women employed by the private sector as a whole. Underrepresentation is highlighted even further where leadership roles are considered. The EEOC also reported that  83% of tech executives are white and only 20% of tech executives are women. In a slight contrast, women make up 29% of executive positions in the overall private sector.

Although these are concerning statistics as it relates to minority and gender equality in the workforce, there will always be dedicated and inspiring individuals leading progress and shattering glass ceilings in their field. We learned more about three hardworking tech leaders in this month’s featured interviews – highlighting the everyday accomplishments and struggles that come with owning a technology business in 2018.
Erin O'Toole

Erin O’Toole, MS, CGC
Family Forecast

Q: Tell us a little about your what you do and how you got there.

A: After spending years working in a hospital setting, I started my own genetic counseling business to counsel patients from their home using
telemedicine. Not only have I needed to learn everything about running a small business, but the fact that this is telemedicine with HIPPA protected
information make it more complicated. I now have an electronic medical record and have experienced several different telemedicine platforms that
are easy for patients to use and can allow us to securely share medical records.

Q: Take us through a day in your life.

A: In a typical day, I will have 2-3 scheduled consultations which typically occur of 2-way video conferencing. Then I will document the appointment and send a letter to the patient and her physician. Next, I have to prepare for upcoming appointments to make sure I have all needed medical records. Some types of appointments require very little preparation, but others are very complicated and I have to spend a lot of time researching. Then I spend some time working on a new blog post or video to share on my website and social media.

Q: What has been the biggest struggle in your line of work?

A: Most insurance companies don’t recognize genetic counselors as health care providers, so a lot of people are upset that I cannot bill their insurance for services.


Adrian Fields

Adrian Fields

Q: Tell us a little about your what you do and how you got there.

A: My name is Adrian Fields. I am a 36 year-old, African-American male with a GED. Five years ago, I was hired at KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy as a contracted Behavioral Specialist to work with 15 kids. While in the position, I worked my way up to the Dean of the school in 3 years, incorporated my own non-profit to partner with the school, and incorporated OST programs, where the school became my first client. Through this process, I saw a common problem – limited funding and resources. Running my non-profit, I saw firsthand how the funding game was like a shark tank that left people altering or going against their visions while too often compromising their integrity to avoid failing. I quickly began to see why people are hesitant to do “good” unless they can truly afford it.

Q: Take us through a day in your life.

A: My day typically starts very early. At 3:15am, I am going through social media, answering emails, on Zoom conferences with people overseas and finally, building a task list for the day. By 7:40am, I’m leaving for my full-time job as a Dean of Students over 490 children. I arrive at 8am to go through parent meetings and briefings with my teams, and throughout the day it is consistent rotation of children, parent, team meetings and in between working on SmartFund. At 4:30pm, I am home on Zoom talking to my main Developer and by 6pm, I am talking with my partner and Co-Founder to go through all the projects we have assigned and to debrief. By 8pm, I am searching on HARO or SourceBottle for ways to promote SmartFund.

Q: What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend?

A: The news – to know what the community needs and keep our company addressing them.


Jean H. Paldan

Jean H. Paldan
Founder/CEO of Rare Form New Media

Q: Tell us a little about your what you do and how you got there.

A: At University, I had an internship at one of the first web design houses in the US. I loved everything about the web and making websites. One year out of University I was working for IT consulting companies and knew I wanted to run my own thing. So I decided to open my own web house, making websites on the side. Rare Form was born when I was 23. Now, I am proud to say that we are one of Oxford’s (UK) leading web design and app houses.

Q: Take us through a day in your life.

A: I don’t do mornings. I get up around 10:30-11am and go straight to my computer, I work from home most days as it’s quieter and I can get more done in a faster time frame. I work until I am done with whatever it is that needs doing (designing a website, SEO, writing a marketing plan, designing a logo, etc.). I have been known to work through the night on a consulting call and not sleep for two days. I take breaks when the kids get home, and then for dinner.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?

A: “We need to be original,” by my internship boss and mentor. When I opened up my company, those words stuck with me. The language we use on the website is informal American – my tone of voice – in an English market. We are red where everyone else in our space is a blue /green derivative. It’s all about personality and being true to who you are as a company. And I’ve been injecting that personality into Rare Form for over 20 years.