Tech Dudes, Finance Bros and Genevieve Jurvetson
Not to trigger you, but close your eyes and think back to when you were 15. Were you still in your awkward phase? Learning to navigate your first ever romantic relationship? Maybe you were stressed about Grade 10 English class because you were told that your entire future was contingent upon your ability to give examples of pathetic fallacy in Act Two of Macbeth. Whatever you were doing, you probably weren’t already finished high school…
Genevieve Jurvetson was.
Being years ahead of her peers in terms of her academic progress meant that she was always the youngest of her friends, which seems appealing the older we get, but not when you’re the only one who can’t drive everyone around because you’re not old enough to even have a license. And because she was so young, Genevieve’s parents made her live at home until she was 18 - which is fair, because if I had moved out when I was 15 years old, someone else would be writing this article right now.
So while waiting patiently to turn 18, Genevieve attended Georgia Tech where she studied Finance, Business Management and Español. From there, she moved away from home to attend MIT and went into investment banking - which she quickly recognized was not going to be the path for her - but at the genesis of her career and in the midst of economic downturn, it was hard to walk away from a job that others would kill for.
It also didn’t take long for Genevieve to realize that when it came to being a woman in the investment banking industry, the whole ‘equitable treatment’ thing was not really in the cards.
“The feedback I would get and the feedback other young women coming into the business would get would oftentimes be of the sort like: ‘You smile too much’, or ‘Genevieve, you laugh too much’. And the feedback was effectively, ‘you’re acting feminine - can you be more masculine?’”
I mean, I’m confused. The last time a dude catcalled me on the street, he shouted at me to smile more, not less… Can’t misogynists just make up their damn minds already?! Keeping up with your chauvinistic trends is exhausting, people.
Genevieve was disheartened to hear this kind of feedback, realizing that she and her peers were being conditioned to believe that in order to be successful, they had to simply be less of themselves and instead more masculine.
But being one of the only women in her office, Genevieve also began to feel a sense of responsibility when it came to bringing others into the arena.
"We have a responsibility to not be okay with being the only [woman] in the room, and finding ways to get other diverse voices into the room,'' she explains, “we have an obligation to use our voice and not sit back. I think we have an obligation to pull our seats up to the table and use our voice… so that the people who come behind us don’t have to fight for that right".
As she began looking for opportunities to help uplift the talented rising women that she saw around her, she also began to consider her next career move into the world of technology in California. While in Silicon Valley, she was exposed to the people behind Uber, Instagram and even Elon Musk, and was surrounded by many of the revolutionary startups that were popping up at the time - many of which would change the tech world forever.
Inspired, experienced, and ready to finally leave the finance bros behind her for good, Genevieve launched Fetcher two and a half years ago.
Fetcher is a service that uses both AI as well as human recruiters and data scientists to assist companies in hiring exceptionally talented candidates for their open positions in a fast and cost-effective way. She saw it as a way to help phenomenal workers get hired at companies where their unique strengths and skills would be both recognized and rewarded. While it is used to fill all sorts of jobs in different industries, Fetcher also helps companies that are specifically looking to hire women, and facilitates connections with ideal candidates that will be a perfect fit for vacant roles.
She describes it as “building a pipeline of amazing female talent”.
But similar to investment banking, the tech industry and the world of artificial intelligence remains dominated by men, and contrary to the ‘objectivity’ that we believe tech inherently carries, the opposite is in fact true. Algorithmic biases allow technology to be silently discriminatory in ways that are almost completely invisible to the naked eye.
"If your data sets contain years and years of bad human decision making, of bias, of unfair decisions in whatever shape or form they take, those outcomes will also reflect that," she explains.
For tech companies trying to ensure that their products and coding are equitable, it’s all about the data that they choose to use; how it gets captured, who it gets captured by, and processes of analysis that it undergoes in developing ultimate outcomes.
At Fetcher, Genevieve has formulated a solution of her own in an attempt to combat the algorithmic biases that silently marginalize women, people of colour, LGBTQI+ people, immigrants and other populations that are the targets of human bias. Despite its use of artificial intelligence, Fetcher’s business model also makes use of human data scientists and recruiters that process much of its data. In order to make sure its technology and the data that is fed into it is equitable and fair, Genevieve says it’s important to have diverse individuals doing the oversight because a diverse range of voices will allow for more people to be able to identify when there are hidden gaps and discriminatory elements.
We need more people like Genevieve Jurvetson. Not just in tech, but in the industries where women are still struggling to rise up and make their mark. Like so many other phenomenal founders, Genevieve credits her mentors with pushing her and encouraging her to go down paths that at times seemed daunting.
“Its funny how one good mentor - one exceptional teacher - pushes you down a path that you might not have expected to go down,” she says.
Mentors are there to encourage you to speak up, use your voice and bring your good ideas to the table - especially when the tables are powerful, intimidating and exclusively full of people who don’t look like you.
While many industries are slowly evolving into more meritocratic structures, the average woman still doesn’t have the same level of opportunity or access to high-quality work experience as the guy sitting next to her. Women work harder, make babies, raise families all while continuing to get paid less than men.
And yet, apparently we still smile too much.
Watch the video above to hear more about Genevieve’s five chapters and her inspiring tale into entrepreneurship.
Written by: Hannah Geiser