July 2017

Dr. Cathy O’Neil Presents Opportunity and Challenge to Fix and Create Ethical, Fair and Effective Predictive Models

Last week, Microsoft Research New England and Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society welcomed to NERD Dr. Cathy O’Neil, the New York Times bestselling author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Dr. O’Neil spoke about the effects of predictive models that are often harmful and mysterious to large segments of society and the populations they impact. You can view Dr. O’Neil’s talk on WGBH here:

Data science uses analyses of historical data to predict what may happen in the future. These predictive formulas may seem unbiased because they create numbers, percentages, and scores that the average person assumes is objective math. As Dr. O’Neil pointed out, these algorithms and calculations can be significantly flawed in several ways — the data they collect, the assumptions they make, and the conclusions they draw. Decision-makers in the hiring, credit rating, education merit, law enforcement, and justice systems could not only be relying heavily on biased data, but also perpetuating inherent, historical inequities embedded in the data set and/or formulas they use. 

One vivid example that Dr. O’Neil presented is the common use of student test scores to determine which teachers are effective and which ones are not, possibly leading to their dismissal. How does a school district determine which teachers should be dismissed? One school district in New York assessed teachers’ performance based on how their students’ test scores in the current year compared to an anticipated test score (primarily drawn from the students’ score in the previous academic year). If a student performed better than the anticipated score, the teacher was rewarded points and given a higher rating. If the student performed worse, the teacher was penalized and given a lower rating for the negative difference. Reliance on the difference between the anticipated and current scores led to a system in which teachers of poorer students, who may have greater challenges and obstacles, were penalized and fired. While news media could find and publish the ratings under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr. O’Neil was blocked from obtaining the algorithm that calculated these ratings because they were proprietary models created by private companies who sold them to school districts. Without access to the algorithm, a Stuyvesant High School math teacher plotted the published ratings of teachers who taught multiple classes. They created a scatterplot to show only ~24% correlation between the students’ scores and the teachers’ ratings. In one instance, a teacher who was fired due to “low performance” in the public school system was hired within days to a private school. “Did the algorithm create the desired outcome for the school district and its kids?” Dr. O’Neil asked.  

The audience was motivated and called to think about their own ethical responsibility as they create or use predictive models, and to increase awareness of these issues often biased against the least powerful in society.  

Less Search, More Eats with Smarter in the City Startup Food Truck Stars

Have you heard? Boston is the tech hub you never knew existed. With plenty of startups, organizations, and corporations embracing tech in the Boston area, we’re always ready to celebrate innovation around us. That’s why we’re happy to support Smarter in the City, the first high-tech startup accelerator in Dudley Square, Roxbury. Smarter in the City’s accelerator program adds fresh voices to Boston’s tech ecosystem, one startup at a time through a five-month program that provides stipends, workspace, a mentorship program, and other resources to help local startups make an impact. We’re excited to bring Smarter in the City’s cohort to our blog as we spotlight the current companies working to drive innovation in Boston and beyond.

— Aimee Sprung

Have you ever been to an event with food trucks serving delicious food? If you haven’t, make sure to add that to your bucket list of things to do this year. Those of you lucky enough to have experienced it, have probably never realized that getting that food truck to that event took a lot of work.

Take a minute to think how you would go about booking a food truck at your own sweet party. Your first instinct is probably to search online for food trucks in your area. Let’s say that after spending what might seem like hours searching and reviewing limited options, you find a food truck you like. Congratulations! Now you’re only halfway done to getting that vendor booked for your event. Next, you have to contact that vendor, wait for a response, go back-and-forth about food, availability and permits, only to find out that the vendor is either not interested anymore or is no longer available.

Food truck owners work very long hours (12 to 15 a day, on average). This means they have very limited time to respond to your emails and ask or answer questions. This is the main problem that the mobile food and event industry face today: a slow and manual process to find, contact and book mobile food vendors.

Food Truck Stars, through innovation in our software and our “open community” approach, make searching and booking food trucks the easiest part of the event planning process. This means you’ll have more time to focus on finding a decent DJ.

Food Truck Stars' civic tech application simplifies the booking process between vendors and event plannersWe solve this problem from both ends. We provide mobile food vendors a simple signup process and the ability to create and customize their own business profile. Once set up, we provide vendors a dashboard to easily manage their catering bookings. This means that all information showcased on Food Truck Stars was created and posted by our community of vendors. Event planners can use our service to search for trucks in their area and request their participation at their events.

So the next time you see a food truck at an event, try to appreciate that Korean-Mexican fusion burrito just a little more. More importantly, don’t forget — booking a food truck doesn’t have to be difficult anymore. Food Truck Stars has your back.

TUGG Tech Night at the Museum Spotlights Local Nonprofits

How do you bring together tech workers, leaders, investors, the art community, and local nonprofits all in one night?

Ask TUGG (Technology Underwriting Greater Good) — their annual Tech Night at the Museum brought this diverse web of individuals together to celebrate nonprofits using technology for the greater good. Held at the ICA Boston on July 13, the event was a celebration of the convergence of art and tech — amplified by the event’s sponsors, Invaluable and Cuseum.

Tech Night at the Museum wasn’t just an everyday networking event. While the night gave plenty of time to socialize (and snack!), TUGG took the time to spotlight four of its portfolio nonprofits —MbadikaMedia GirlsResilient Coders, and Transformative Culture Project (TCP). At the beginning of the night, each nonprofit was given a minute to pitch their organization’s mission:

  • Mbadika spotlighted using tech to overcome challenges. At Mbadika — which means “idea”, everyone unleashes their inner innovator and entrepreneur. This organization focuses on letting our younger selves realize their ideas.
  • Media Girls empowers girls from grades 6-8 to realize their self-worth using social media. The girls create positive projects using social media at both afterschool programs and workshops during the school day. Their goal is to empower young girls to be part of the solution by creating positive content.
  • Resilient Coders presented on working with youth from underserved communities and teaching them the basics of web development. Resilient Coders operates a digital agency working with real clients, and employs their own graduates to build that work. “It allows us to incubate those individuals further,” explained founder David Delmar. “They get not only technical experience, but also professional experience… and that makes all the difference.”
  • Transformative Culture Project (TCP) explored the intersection of technology and art as a cultural apex. TCP is teaching young people digital media as a workforce development model.

After the pitches, the event split off into breakout sessions: TCP leading a tour of the ICA’s exhibit Nari Ward: Sun Splashed, Mbadika and Media Girls hosting hands-on activities, and a talk with Resilient Coders students.

Funding the Future with Action-Based Scholarships: Smarter in the City Startup ScholarJet

Have you heard? Boston is the tech hub you never knew existed. With plenty of startups, organizations, and corporations embracing tech in the Boston area, we’re always ready to celebrate innovation around us. That’s why we’re happy to support Smarter in the City, the first high-tech startup accelerator in Dudley Square, Roxbury. Smarter in the City’s accelerator program adds fresh voices to Boston’s tech ecosystem, one startup at a time through a five-month program that provides stipends, workspace, a mentorship program, and other resources to help local startups make an impact. We’re excited to bring Smarter in the City’s cohort to our blog as we spotlight the current companies working to drive innovation in Boston and beyond.

— Aimee Sprung, Civic Engagement Manager, Microsoft New England

Giving up everything in Vietnam, my mom took a chance and brought my brother and me to the U.S. in 2005. I was 10 years old and without any formal English lessons, the thought of leaving our country to go to another was terrifying. Yet my mom worked tirelessly to provide for us. She believed with her whole heart that, with an education, we could do anything. I rarely saw my mom growing up because she worked tirelessly…as a cook, at nail salons and caring for Cerebral Palsy patients, amongst countless other jobs. With exhausted eyes in front of the stove, day after day, was her unwavering smile as she cooked dinner for us – a seemingly effortless task that took so much strength.

The endless devotion she showed us during those years is still the source of my motivation. I thought that if I could just outwork everyone around me, eventually my mom could stop working. So during my senior year of Boston Latin Academy, I was studying for the SAT, taking AP classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and volunteering.

I thought all of my hard work paid off when I was accepted to Northeastern University. But the cost of $60,000 per year was unimaginable; there was no way we could afford it. So I did everything I could. I wrote over 120 essays to apply for over 40 scholarships in hopes of funding my education. Which I did – earning over $500,000 in scholarships.

Students currently endure the largest student loan crisis in our nation’s history, with a national student loan debt of over $1.4 trillion and an astonishing lack of immigrant students’ access to education. So my team and I created ScholarJet.

ScholarJet is the future of scholarships. We are changing the way students finance their education and the way donors give through “action-based scholarships.”

The foundation of ScholarJet is our firm belief that “it is not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.” Our scholarships enable students to show their true potential through challenges related to STEM, arts/media, community service, and health. Instead of writing essays, students can run marathons, paint paintings or even develop apps.

To fund these scholarships, we work with individual donors and philanthropic organizations. Donors are provided a unique opportunity to inspire and motivate students, while organizations can promote their mission through student’s actions. This is all done through our robust web platform that streamlines the entire scholarship process.

Here’s a video showcasing our scholarship at Northeastern:

ScholarJet was recently accepted into MassChallenge’s 2017 Boston Accelerator program, won $20K from the Vietnamese Global Entrepreneurship Challenge, won the Greenhorn Summit Pitch Competition and Mass Innovation Nights #92. We are also a part of Smarter In The City and the Northeastern IDEA Venture Accelerator.

We’re looking to connect with individual donors and companies who want to create impacts that go beyond the scholarship amount and help us become the future of scholarships. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Facebook!

Coming to the U.S. from Vietnam when he was 10 years old, Tuan Ho understands the value in pursuing his education. With the help of his mother, he relentlessly pushed himself to work hard in high school while helping out the community around him, eventually graduating Boston Latin Academy with high honors. In order to pay for college, Tuan took matters into his own hands and applied for over 40 scholarships. Now he is attending Northeastern University on a full ride, studying mechanical engineering. Because of the adversity he had faced, Tuan started ScholarJet with the vision of increasing access to higher education for students. He strongly believes that it is not who you are underneath, but your actions that define you.

KinTrans & Microsoft — Hands Can Talk

Many of you reading this post hear and speak as one of your basic senses that help you to effortlessly talk to a pharmacist about your prescription, or to talk to your friendly mobile phone representative about the latest options for upgrading. These benign interactions that come so naturally for you are a totally different experience for people who cannot hear or use spoken language, or who have lost their hearing. Many deaf people learn sign language – another language equally recognized in cognitive brain function as spoken language. It’s a visual language unto itself. For as many spoken languages in the world, there are the same sign languages. Both are rooted in legacy cultures and vary from region to region.

Think about this: technology today allows us to automatically translate spoken language decently. There are ear-buds, for example, that allow for translation between people having face to face conversations in different languages, or translation technology for websites in other languages. Advancements in automating natural language processing and using artificial intelligence technologies make this happen.

Solutions for recognizing sign language, however, have relied on human resources in various forms: physical interpreters, interpreters through video, and other types of use of humans to recognize and translate sign language. Dependency on professional interpreters or family and friends is a tough way to have a conversation about your medical condition with your pharmacist, or buying a new phone and maybe adding other family members to your plan. Simply, we humans are not scalable. Sure, texting has taken on its own value in replacing pen & paper, but these types of conversations are hard to have with typing, or writing.  

KinTrans Inc. has created a technology platform that facilitates these types of conversations by using artificial intelligence in a new way to recognize this full body movement language, and any sign language in the world. KinTrans’ chat solution is designed for the business environment in the immediate term to improve communication with Deaf customers at points of sale and service areas. The chat solution translates signs into voice and voice into signs in real time. This functionality allows the Deaf to realize independence and businesses to realize new value creating opportunities from this large market segment.

KinTrans and Microsoft: Joining Forces for Inclusion

Microsoft has been an integral part of KinTrans’ development, embedded at various steps along the way. From using the Microsoft Kinect 3D depth camera to providing hosting credits on Azure through BizSpark Plus, Microsoft has been a vehicle of support to this early technology startup.

Microsoft Gulf, headquartered in Dubai, UAE discovered KinTrans in a local incubator in 2015. KinTrans was one of 5 startups selected to meet Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, during a visit to Dubai in January 2016. Mr. Nadella spoke with KinTrans about the future of Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft platform at large to bring about inclusion of all people, to digitally transform how the global community works together. Since that time, Microsoft Gulf sponsored KinTrans at the 2016 GITEX technology conference in Dubai, the QITCOM technology conference in Doha, Qatar, has made Developer Experience team resources available, and hosted KinTrans in the Dubai Microsoft Technology Center.

Today, Microsoft New England continues supporting KinTrans Inc., through civic engagement opportunities in Boston and working side-by-side with them in the MassChallenge accelerator. The goal together is to demonstrate how a deep technology platform, combined with innovative machine learning applications can open new, scalable opportunities for communication with Deaf in the marketplace, in the workplace, in schools, healthcare centers and civic institutions.   

For more information, contact info@KinTrans.com or visit www.KinTrans.com.

Making Data Matter at Museum of Science Boston

At the Museum of Science Boston, visitors discover the wonders of the human body by immersing themselves in a series of interactive activities in which they use their own bodies as the test subject. The Hall of Human Life was uniquely constructed by our in-house designers with the process of learning at its core. A wristband marked with a unique barcode allows visitors to take measurements of their own body, record their experiences, and see how their data compares to other visitors. Thousands of data points are generated each day from the Hall of Human Life. In turn, we can use the data to constantly improve the exhibition and ensure each station is functioning correctly.

From the onset, we knew that technology would be the keystone of the Hall of Human Life and that it would require updating as technological capabilities evolved. When the exhibit opened in 2013, we were hosting the data on a Microsoft SQL Server database with a basic Excel dashboard for reporting and analytics. This on premise system allowed for the capture and retention of all inputted data, but was limited to sampling from the last 30 days of data for display in the exhibit. As of October 2016, anonymous data for nearly one million visitors had been recorded. However, because not all of it was accessible in real-time, the entire dataset was not being used in the truly comparative way that was central to the exhibit’s mission.

Like any public institution, we host large groups of visitors every day. This includes family groups, class field trips, Girl Scout troops, Boy Scout Councils, summer camps, or even overnights for elementary and middle school students. Imagine a large group of elementary school students exploring the exhibit and entering their data into the kiosks. When the next visitors come in, they will not be offered an accurate spread of human data. The comparison will be reflective only of the large group of students that previously went through. This was a real problem because the Hall of Human Life was created to harness the true power of comparative data for interactive learning.

To address this technology challenge, we worked with our friends at Microsoft. Through thoughtful collaboration with our staff, they assessed our needs and helped us to complete the Hall of Human Life in a way that was most useful to us for the long-term. Under the direction of Microsoft engineers, a team of interns from Worcester Polytechnic Institute built a prototype system that allows us to host all the Hall of Human Life data securely in the Azure cloud and recall it all back to visitors in real-time. They also designed a Power BI operations dashboard that monitors the exhibit in real-time and an anomaly detection system in Azure Machine Learning that automatically detects hardware failures and outlier data to ensure the data we are collecting is accurate.

Through our partnership, we have fully updated and modernized the visitor-facing technology in the Hall of Human Life. Now this interactive exhibition not only demonstrates the power of immersive learning anchored in comparative data but it is also a model for transformational corporate-civic partnerships.

Boston’s Coordinated Access System: Technology to Help Homeless Individuals Find Their Way Home

Part of our work in the Technology and Civic Engagement team at Microsoft New England is to highlight key technology projects that are solving civic challenges.  

The Department of Neighborhood Development at the City of Boston is taking an innovative approach to countering chronic homelessness with technology. It is inspiring to work alongside such thoughtful government technologists who take a human-centered approach to making the city a place for all individuals to live, work and play!

— Cathy Wissink, Senior Director, Technology & Civic Engagement at Microsoft

Per the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in January 2016, 549,928 people were homeless on a given night in the United States. Of that number, 77,486 (or one in five) were considered “chronically homeless” individuals. And a number of this homeless population, around 550 individuals, remain chronically homeless in Boston — 220 of which are US Veterans.

So how do we fix this?

Clearly, homelessness is a result of a range of issues, spanning from mental health disabilities to poverty to access to affordable housing. And the City of Boston is looking to address these issues — with the help of technology.

Boston’s Way Home, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s action plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness in Boston, is the city’s tech-forward approach to solving these issues head-on. Through individualized housing and service programs addressing the specific needs of homeless individuals, Boston’s Way Home is utilizing new technology to help end homelessness in Boston.

Boston’s Coordinated Access System (CAS) is a housing match engine that matches homeless individuals with housing opportunities and tenancy support services based on eligibility and length of time homeless. Here, the city is taking a housing-first approach to chronic homelessness, helping people get into a place where they can be stable first, then treating additional issues like mental illness, substance use disorders, or financial instability.

“It’s a lot easier to give people services when you know where they’re going to be every day,” explains Matthew Rouser, Assistant Director, Innovation and Technology for the City of Boston.

Because of these housing matches, individuals are much more likely to be able to work on making healthy changes in their lives, and accept services, once they have a stable place to live.

CAS allows housing navigators to easily coordinate housing opportunities and track steps in the process directly through the platform. This system was implemented early, following Boston’s Way Home goal to house the chronic homeless population of veterans. The city was able to end chronic homelessness among veterans right at the close of 2015. And we’re making progress on the remaining chronically homeless population.

Another initiative launched by the City of Boston to combat chronic homelessness is a digital approach to its Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). While the CAS approaches homelessness from a housing standpoint, the HMIS focuses more on documenting shelter stays, street outreach contacts, and services as well as collecting demographic data on homeless households. Service providers that work with the homeless population (such as mental health organizations, meal programs, day time services, street outreach programs, etc.) are required to record each time a client comes through, and what services are provided to this client. In the past, access to this database has been scattered, with users unable to see anything other than the info their agency entered, leaving their view incomplete. Boston’s HMIS data warehouse is working to unify and clarify this information into one database.

“We’re working to put together a data warehouse that can use machine learning to work to clean up datasets,” explains Rouser, “to get a truly accurate picture of what’s happening with our homeless population. What resources are helping to address the issue? How can we better deliver services to our homeless population?”

Service providers who have access to HMIS can now work on more comprehensive plans: staying in touch with other service providers, keeping themselves updated on client progress, and working to make sure each client is getting all the resources they need.

Boston’s homelessness technology is an agile-based program, being built as it’s implemented (and available open source on github here). The goal is to make these open source projects fully functional through integrated testing environments and getting other communities to implement these ideas.

“What’s really exciting about these two initiatives in this area of work is that we’ve worked with our developers and contractors to do things we’ve typically not done with government,” explains Rouser.

The City of Boston is looking to get these resources into the hands of other cities and government agencies — as well as developers, data scientists, and denizens who are committed to solving our homelessness problem. From there, we can begin to tackle homelessness on a larger scale, all through simple technology.

To date, over 800 homeless veterans and over 300 chronically homeless individuals have been housed. In January 2016, Mayor Walsh announced that Boston has effectively ended chronic homelessness among veterans. Learn more about Boston’s Way Home here. Access the city’s open source resources on github here.

Microsoft New England Picks: Not-To-Miss Events, July 2017

From fireworks over the Charles River to civic tech events happening in Kendall Square, Boston is ready for non-stop events this July. Here are some of our top picks in the civic sector (and beyond):

July 6

Robots, Self-Driving Cars, AI, OH MY!

Talk Data to Me is a monthly event series where GA hosts thought-leaders from the Boston data community to discuss the possibilities that data brings to life. 

July invites Boston-based leaders in the data community to discuss the exciting applications they are forecasting for the future. How is AI improving our lives? How long until self-driving cars become the standard? What will the future of work look like as data improves automation?

July 7

How High-Impact Leaders Communicate

BostonSpeaks invites you to join our monthly panel breakfast series for entrepreneurs! Learn, network and get inspired every month as we invite some of the most exciting entrepreneurs and top thought leaders in Boston to discuss tricks-of-the-trade in their fields and the success principles they gained along the way!

July 10

Boston New Technology July 2017 Startup Showcase #BNT79

Learn about 7 innovative and exciting technology products and network with the Boston/Cambridge startup community.

July 11

Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll

Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll is all about connections. Fueled by possibility and rock n’ roll, TDRR weaves together Boston University’s broad expertise in life sciences, physical sciences, and medical technology and Boston’s thriving entrepreneurial industry for an afternoon where free flowing conversations and wild collaborations become possible.

July 12

Young Leaders in Tech

ReferralMob and General Assembly are joining forces for an epic night with some of Boston’s most interesting and inspiring young leaders that are making a name for themselves in the tech scene.

Mass Innovation Nights #100

There is more to celebrate this July than just Independence Day – Mass Innovation Nights is having its 100th event, yes 100 (meaning over 1,000 products have showcased). This is an event that will be “out of this world”! Draper’s Sembler office  is sponsoring MIN #100, hosted by the Museum of Science and the Museum of Science Innovators! MIN #100 will have a SPACE TECHNOLOGY theme with many space technology related companies showcasing.

In addition to the showcasing, many special surprises are planned (think Theater of Electricity and so much more). Since it is MIN’s 100th event there will also be a MINi-retrospective of the last 100 events — bringing back some Mass Innovation Nights’ alumni.

Tech Night at the Museum

TUGG is back with Tech Night at the Museum!

Join TUGG, Invaluable and others from Boston’s tech community for the second annual Tech Night at the Museum as we take over The Institute of Contemporary Art.

BOSTech and TUGG’s nonprofits will come together for a fun night of collaboration, open bar, food, and networking!

July 13

How AR and IoT are Making Cities Smarter

Don’t miss the Super Meetup of the summer happening on July 13th at PTC in Needham. At this meetup, we’ll explore how two of the most powerful enabling technologies of our generation, IoT and AR, can be combined to create the most powerful changes of our lifetimes. Hear from smart city experts and startups, on how AR and IoT are making cities smarter. Plus, enjoy interactive demos, networking, food, and drinks (read: summer beer & wine).

July 19

2017 Leadership Awards Summer Reception

Join MassTLC as we celebrate the Leadership Awards nominees and announce the 2017 finalists. Learn more about the Leadership Awards program here.

July 24

2017 MassChallenge Golf Tournament

Join MassChallenge for our 3rd Annual Startup Golf Tournament at world renowned TPC Boston, host of an annual PGA Tour event. The tournament has sold out each year, so reserve your slot while you can.

MassChallenge friends and startups are invited for an afternoon on the links, with all proceeds benefiting the $1M in annual prize money awarded to MassChallenge startups. If you’d like MassChallenge startup alumni in your foursome, let us know.

Dr. Angela Duckworth Brings Grit to Women@NERD

Dr. Angela Duckworth, MacArthur Fellow and New York Times bestselling author of the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, recently visited NERD to explain why this simple, yet powerful concept is the most significant contributor to high achievement. Hosted by Microsoft’s New England R&D leaders and the Women@NERD, Dr. Duckworth spoke to a room packed with more than 160 Microsoft employees and women in the Kendall Square High Tech Women’s Forum.

Grit is a measure of one’s perseverance through challenging work toward a singular passion. Dr. Duckworth emphasized that “however gritty you are today is not how gritty you may be tomorrow. Grit is something you develop and grow.”

One key to grit is understanding your interests and, ultimately, your purpose. Purpose links one’s efforts to the benefit of others.  It helps to provide that drive to continue despite the obstacles, failures and challenges along the way.

Grit also requires a growth mindset, where intelligence, talent and abilities are gained through an open, learn-it-all approach. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, fully embraces and encourages a mindset and workplace where employees continuously seek to improve. Dr. Duckworth says that she likes to follow Nadella’s  journey and talks “because he seems to enjoy sharing an element of his personal success: that anyone can learn and grow.”

Richard Barnwell, a Microsoft Partner Engineering Manager, said that his main takeaway from the day was, “how grit and growth mindset complement each other and reinforce the empowering message that our ability to be better is something we have significant control over.”

After the talk, Dr. Duckworth met with about 25 women and male allies from the Kendall Sq. High Tech Women’s Forum.  The women discussed how they needed grit to survive and then thrive in an industry where men often comprise 80 percent  or more of the workplace ,and where they are often the only woman on a project team. One female engineer commented, “I loved hearing confirmation and proof that hard work counts twice as much as talent or skill. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am today and pride myself on that ethic, but I often feel like an impostor because I still don’t always feel like I have the ‘talent’ which is what people too often give praise about.” Dr. Duckworth discussed that we love to call people “naturals” because we are attracted to that concept; however, we rarely see the hours of mistakes, failures and learnings it took for that person to get to where they are.  

One of the male attendees said, “I appreciated the fact that she put pictures in the presentation of women whose names I know but whose faces I didn’t recognize: Dr. Curie was perhaps the best example. While I know her work, I couldn’t have picked her out of a lineup. Something which I could do for many male scientists. It was a good reminder of some of my blind spots.”

At the end of the session, every attendee received a signed copy of Grit to continue their path of honing their passion and perseverance, and encouraging their colleagues to do the same.