HomeBlogInternational Women's Day 2020: Q&A with Samantha Stein

International Women's Day 2020: Q&A with Samantha Stein

March 08, 2020 by Brett Schor

This International Women’s Day, QEDIT’s Chief Strategy Officer Samantha Stein

Samantha shares her thoughts on powerful role models, changing how we think as a society, and the importance of creating a more inclusive technology sector.

You recently joined the QEDIT team as Chief Strategy Officer. Can you tell us about your career to date and why you chose to work with QEDIT? 

At my core, I’m a humanist and a truth seeker. I see technology as a powerful tool that can be safeguarded to build a more equitable and enlightened world. My career has taken me to places like the Middle East to develop open-source protocols, Silicon Valley to scale startups, and around the world with the media to highlight emerging technologies. 


Data is becoming an increasingly powerful digital life force requiring protective sensitivities akin to those necessary for our mental and physical health. Data is forming a digital and societal subconscious; the resulting weight it holds, can be empowering or explosive depending on how the parts are combined. Data usage is now defining our time. 


I joined QEDIT because I want to help safeguard and define our today. Privacy is a human right, not a luxury. Thankfully, legislation is increasingly reinforcing this stance. 


Female voices are already contributing to industry debate around data privacy regulation. How important is it to have women like US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand leading the charge on important issues such as this?

The policies and technologies we create reflect the people who use them. If the creators are not diverse, then the inclusivity of these policies will be impaired by that lack of diversity. It is critical that inclusivity starts at the point of design in order to build governance and technologies that are both equitable and free of blind spots. 


What needs to be done to encourage more women to study STEM subjects at school, and embark on careers within those industries?   

All people need to be told equally from a young age that they are great at math and science. We need to highlight women scientists and technologists in what we teach and the representations we show as a society. This changes the realities children can see for themselves from a young age. 


Women and minorities are critical to design. They have a unique view of security from their life experience to which men are less aware. It comes from needing to be more mindful of personal security as targeted groups. 


Role models are key in gender diversity. Is there someone you look up to and admire? 

Haben Girma, a diversity advocate, is one of my greatest role models. She constantly pushes how I think about the way society, environments, and technologies are structured and designed. Everything around us is a set of complex decisions hidden by the result. Haben helps me think through those hidden decision sets to understand where bias or exclusion exists and how to reconstruct them. Our algorithms and data can hide bias and assumptions, and it’s important to train our minds and technology to safeguard equity. 


Overall, I deeply admire, respect, and look up to those who choose to be allies and advocates for those who have less privilege than them. Allyship is using our voice and privilege to take on the struggles of others as if they were our own while giving those who’ve experienced those struggles sovereignty over the voice. 


What advice would you give to women who are looking to enter, or are already a part of, the technology space? 

Come build the future, and remember to give back. You’re indebted to all of the people who helped you get to where you are now, until you help someone else. Think about the future you want to live in and then find the technology that will get you there. Create it. Dedicate yourself to a labor of love, instead of a job.