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Profile: Shayn Baron, co-founder and Community Director at Crocagile

Diversity talk: “If you want to advance, make it known and be persistent. You’ll need a thick skin”

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
diversity
© Shutterstock /Lamina2014

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Shayn Baron, co-founder and Community Director at Crocagile.

A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Shayn Baron, co-founder and Community Director at Crocagile.

Shayn Baron, Crocagile

Shayn Baron is co-founder and Community Director at Crocagile, a SaaS startup bringing agile teams together with highly-collaborative workspaces. She devoted her career to the creation of Crocagile and she works every day to make sure Crocagile is always meeting the users’ expectations. She’s also a partner at Goodfellaz.com and a work-from-home-in-your-pajamas expert.

Follow her on Twitter: @shaynbaron

What got you interested in technology?

I began exploring photoshop when I was 20. I was a model, and I hated bothering my techie boyfriend every time one of my photos needed resizing. Before I knew it I was editing my own photos, resizing them, altering the background, enhancing my lip color, and making full-blown designer comp cards. It was awesome and liberating. I loved that I could manipulate software to create what I had imagined.  When I eventually transitioned to acting, I learned how to cut movies with iMovie. Most actors needed a techie to produce a reel, but not me… I cut my own.

As a model/actress, I was surrounded by products, entrepreneurs, and interesting people. I got a behind-the-scenes look at business. I learned what it was to market and promote products and the importance of design. Acting taught me how to tell a good story. It was a great primer and a natural transition for me.

My family has been incredibly supportive. My husband is my partner and mentor. Early in his career, I inspired him to develop an online portfolio for models. He ended up selling it to big agencies like Ford. When he eventually started a software development shop, I helped him with client coordination, testing, research, wire framing and anything else he needed. As his company grew to a team of 25+, we had a hard time finding good software that could meet the demands of a fully-remote agile team. That’s what sparked the idea for Crocagile.

I watched our founding team build Croc from the ground up, when it was an awful little proof of concept that no one but our team would ever use. We had our clients use it, learned from their feedback, scrapped the whole thing several times, and eventually came to a point where the R&D work finally struck a chord with the market. What we ended up with is an all-inclusive lean agile system that is dead simple to use, and fun & exciting for the whole team.

Any bumps in the road?

A former colleague once tried to dissuade the team from allowing me to lead our marketing efforts in a radical new direction. His argument was that I wasn’t qualified to lead because I didn’t have a degree from university, and he lobbied to bring me on board with far less equity than I was worth. It was a stressful battle, but I stood up for myself and received the position and equity I wanted. Today, we call these radical ideas “growth hacking”. :)

A day in Shayn’s life

Today, I’m co-founder of Crocagile, a SaaS company. We’re a small work-from-home team so I wear many hats. We use Crocagile to build Crocagile. I handle our marketing and customer success goals. Together, our whole team collaborates with customers over Live Support Chat to help make sure we’re addressing their needs. Right now we’re wrapping up a few more things so we can launch on Product Hunt.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

I think it starts with the fact that technology courses like computer science and software design are not part of core curriculum. It’s crazy to me that in 2018 we aren’t aggressively preparing our kids for the tech-enabled future. It’s also frustrating that technology opportunities are still mostly marketed towards men. We still have a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see groups like “Girls Who Code”. They’re an inspiration and we need more of them. The tech industry is a sausage fest and that’s intimidating for any woman. Especially, when you read or hear about the abuse that goes on.

Since the #meToo movement, gender diversity has been an open discussion where people have become more sensitive and acutely aware of themselves. It’s reached across industries and encouraged women to have a voice. I think that’s powerful and it’s starting to make a difference because companies are reevaluating their practices and how they market to new hires.
I think it will inspire more people like Dr. Dei-Fei Li (AI4All) and Van Jones ( #yeswecode), who are trying to bridge gaps in diversity. If we market to women and minorities, and if we teach technology at a fundamental level, we’ll definitely change the landscape. How long, is anyone’s guess.

Women in STEM

More women in STEM will create a better balance and will fill more jobs. Women also have an emotional and nurturing way of looking at things. Our passion for our careers, our creativity, and our natural empathy will help make the world a better place. More women would translate into a more caring, involved, and empathetic society.

Obstacles

Some people might dismiss you or treat you less then an equal. Don’t let them. Stand up for yourself. Make your voice heard. Good talent is in high demand these days, so don’t be afraid to get out there and try something new.

Tips & tricks

If you want to advance make it know and be persistent. You’ll need a thick skin. Understand that you might encounter chauvinistic behavior. If so, stand up for yourself. If it doesn’t change at the source make it public. If that doesn’t work find a place that values you and treats you as an equal.

Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:

Author
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou is an assistant editor for JAXenter.com. Just finished her masters in Modern East Asian Studies and plans to continue with her old hobby that is computer science.

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