Friday challenges our perspective.

A few weeks ago I attended the Capital One Women in Tech Demo Day—a hackathon series in its second year aimed at developing tech solutions to increase the presence of women in tech.

As influencer partners to their programming this year, my team has made the commitment to sharing the stories of some of Capital One’s senior female leadership.

Asmau Ahmed, a senior engineer at Capital One, served as keynote at the New York event. She has a storied journey as an engineer while also claiming the title of founder, mom, and advocate for diversity in tech.

Asmau launched her company Plum Perfect back in 2010. The company is known for its patented visual recommendation technologies which enable shoppers to get product recommendations in under 30 seconds by using a mobile photo.

At WITDemoDay, Asmau recalled her road to raising money for her startup that began with standing in all male and all white rooms pitching against the sort of questions that demeaned her capacity, capabilities, and competencies. Thus far, she’s raised over $1 million in venture capital and remains on the board of Plum Perfect.

“I didn’t come in [to work] every day thinking ‘I’m a black woman’. I came in as a CEO knowing I need to show a return to my investors and focus on getting us there,” she says. “Ultimately,  you are judged based on the results you drive and not just the effort you put forth.”

With that same philosophy, she’s been dedicated to the work of increasing access to opportunities for women in tech, starting with Demo Day.

The subtleties of how programming is designed to attract women into spaces where we are traditionally missing are the challenge for corporate environments seeking to both recruit and retain diverse talent. For Asmau, the variety of internal cultural working groups and resources at Capital One are among a slew of new experiences she’s never seen in this industry before.

“Demo day resonated with me. [I’ve] seen many hackathons and none of them [have been] tailored to women. They run overnight or on the weekend. They’re really tailored to single men with no obligations outside of work,” she explains. “Capital One is working behind the scenes, investing in the long-term education of women in tech and those getting into this space. It’s evident in our resource groups and the partnerships we’ve made with Black Girls Code, Women Who Code, and scholarships we’re providing through General Assembly.”

Interested in attending the next Capital One Women In Tech Demo Day hackathon? Grab your tickets to the July 21-22 event in D.C. and use discount code WITDDwithSherrell.

This newsletter is sponsored by Capital One.

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