89. Lauren Valley- Creative Technologist & Electric Women founder

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“I hope to not only provide a centralized resource for those in need but to also further a sense of online community for women of color in New Media.”


How do you stay passionate in your career?


As a Creative Technologist, 80% of any given project involves de-bugging and trouble-shooting, but I am able to stay passionate about my work through my engagement with others. In addition to the satisfaction of seeing a project come together, I always feel fulfilled when experiencing my own work through a fresh set of eyes.


Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?


I began working with technology during my sophomore year of college. I entered Carnegie Mellon University as an Art Major, but I took classes in Computer Science and Physical Computing. Now, I am able to combine my loves for both art and technology through my weekly web-series, Junie Genius, where I create humorous robotic solutions to everyday problems.



Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?


I love using special effects in my videos, and I can’t live without Adobe AfterEffects.


It’s common knowledge that women often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?


As an exhibiting artist, I’m often surprised by the reception of my work in different settings. Last year, I completed a large-scale robotic installation that involved a 12 foot wide moving dress.


Each time I exhibited in a non-art context, I was always met with comments and assumptions (from men) about how I was incapable of either programming the robot, welding the metal structure, or building the circuitry.


Needless to say, I’ve gotten pretty good at calmly re-educating people.


What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in tech?


One of my favorite things about being a woman in technology is being able to connect with other women who share my passion. Being able to create, relate, and commiserate with each other constantly reminds me of why it’s important for women to work in tech fields.


How have you given back to the WIT community?


As a woman of color in art and technology, I’m very conscious of representation in online spaces. In May 2018, I released the first iteration of Electric Women, an online resource dedicated to showcasing the work of women of color across art, science, technology, and social practice. Through this project, I hope to not only provide a centralized resource for those in need but to also further a sense of online community for women of color in New Media.


What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?


My two pieces of advice are very simple but have served me well over the years:
1. Know what you want
2. Work very hard to achieve it


Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.


In 2017, I was the inaugural recipient of the Dara Birnbaum Award for art at the intersection of media and technology. This was an incredible honor for me because Birnbaum is an artist I greatly admire.