Women in Tech Spotlight: Rebecca Clyde

Rebecca Clyde's story begins like many do – a young person inspired by the technology and the constantly changing world around her. But unlike many of our tech leaders of yore, she was starting her passions as a Latina woman. Her story matters because, despite her background, differences, and the forces that be that would try and stop her at many turns along the way, she is now a prominent face of the Women in Tech movement, and a name that you should know. 

Today, Clyde is the co-founder of Botco.ai, an early stage startup that is disrupting the $8 billion marketing automation industry. She is also the co-managing director of the Phoenix Chapter of Girls in Tech. Clyde's work extends from there – she's been in the tech world for over 20 years, and is a founder and senior advisor to Ideas Collide, a Scottsdale-based digital marketing agency that is now in its 13thyear serving global technology companies. She is a fluent and native Spanish speaker, having been born in Costa Rica and raised throughout Latin America. Clyde's international and innovative experiences have combined to help her leadership within the field of technology, and this Women's Month would be remiss without including her name among the many women of the 20th and 21st century who have stepped out of their expected roles and into the spotlight.

Her interview with Girls in Tech Phoenix touched on just some of the obstacles she has overcome – and continues to grapple with today. She describes discrimination and unconscious bias as the biggest hurdle women face in pursuing a career in technology today, noting "our industry is plagued with it, and unfortunately women are sometimes made to feel unwelcome in many ways." She cites this as to why she has taken such a stand working with organizations like Girls in Tech, in hopes of "creating a welcoming environment where girls and women can learn to navigate this world successfully."

Among the many instances that made her turn to creating her own companies and organizations was the realization that men in power readily surround themselves with other men and those in their inner circles advance more quickly. "In many ways," Clyde notes, "it's what motivated me to leave the corporate world and forge out on my own. I sought to create a world that wasn't exclusionary."

That commitment to changing the world clearly expands beyond the corporate world or that of her own businesses. It starts with girls who are students in Phoenix and need a way "in" to the tech world and STEM fields. When attending a Girls in Tech Catalyst conference in 2016, Clyde met Melissa Drake, a math and programming teacher at Shadow Ridge High School in Surprise, Arizona. The two would go on to re-launch the Girls in Tech Phoenix chapter, forming a board of local professional women and opening the organization to the public at the Arizona Science Center last summer. 

Clyde and the Girls in Tech Phoenix project hope to address the discrimination that women face in STEM fields. A recent study released by the National Girls Collaborative Project suggests that women make up less than a third of the science and engineering workforce in the United States. When women make up half of the college-educated workforce, that is a stark absence in a growing field.

The Girls in Tech Phoenix chapter also has plans to compile some data on area women in STEM careers to put the city's numbers into context with the rest of the nation. "We want to see women grow and succeed in STEM careers," Clyde told Phoenix Business Journallast year when the organization was first relaunching. "We're definitely striking a chord here. We're super excited about being a part of that."

Rebecca Clyde is neither the first or last woman to do the work to welcome women to the field of tech, but she is definitely one of a kind. She lists her mentors as a source of inspiration, including Megan Bednarz and Rose Schooler, the latter now a VP at Intel's Internet of Things division. Clyde's science advisor, Deborah McGuiness, established the Knowledge Systems Lab at Stanford and heads up Ontology and Knowledge Representation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. "She can explain it in a way that a non-computer science major like myself can understand," explains Clyde in an interview with Girls In Tech, describing the way McGuiness seamlessly brought technical subjects out of their jargon and into a commonly understandable story. So too has Rebecca Clyde brought many complex subjects to the front of the Tech industry, including gender inclusion. 

When someone like Clyde opens the door for the next generation of women and tech-aficionados, it's our job to take that step through the door with her. We must decide what is possible in a world where doors still begged to be opened and obstacles still rise before us. To that end, Clyde's advice to women in tech is the call to act: "If you can dream it, you can do it!"


 

Alec Robertson