In the run-up to national women’s equality day Women’s Day on the 8th March 2018, we are paying homage to 7 women who have made a name for themselves in the world of technology. We are honouring women leaders in technology, who are quietly making a difference in their field. In this series, the women in tech industry personally share their experiences and challenges whilst also giving us a glimpse into the lessons that they have learnt along the way. In her own words, Kenya Wiley shares her story.
I grew up in a very socially conscious and politically active family, so I was always interested in law and politics. I first started out on a pre-med track during my first year at Stanford University, before changing my course of study to law.
Driven by my keen interest in the merger of fashion, technology, law and public policy, I am all about legal and public policy issues impacting technology and the creative economy. I have been lucky to serve as a Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and I also worked on intellectual property and tech policy issues for the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) legal department.
One of the most significant challenges I have faced so far was the launch of the Fashion Innovation Alliance. FIA was the first organisation to raise awareness of the importance of fashion tech policy and regulatory compliance for attorneys, government officials, academia and industry. As we approach our second anniversary, we find ourselves continually adapting to the changing times. We do this by being resourceful when it comes to helping startups and establishing entities with regulatory compliance, outreach and advocacy, and strategic business goals around fashion tech and beauty tech.
I have enjoyed the fact that launching the Fashion Innovation Alliance has allowed me to combine my interests in fashion, tech, law and public policy and it is a space that serves as the catalyst for me to form the Fashion Innovation Alliance. When it comes to my work ethic, I believe in treating everyone the way that I would like to be treated. I consider myself to be direct and firm, but always fair. I also think it’s imperative to provide mentoring, training and opportunities for growth and career advancement.
When it comes to women in the field of technology, I do believe that there is more awareness of the importance for more women in tech, but there’s still room for improvement. It’s also vital that we include women of colour in discussions on access, funding and other issues around “women in tech.
There is currently a lot going on in the wearable technology space, and right now the most significant transformation in technology has to be the smartphone. It has transformed how we communicate, get around, shop and create new business opportunities. The smartphone has also helped to power many startups in fashion tech — from smart accessories, and apparel to beauty apps integrating artificial intelligence and augmented reality. When it comes to the next transformation in the tech industry, I believe that we’ll continue to see more integration of the current technologies— in Blockchain, IoT, AI, AR and VR—with more opportunities and benefits for both businesses and consumers. However, to fully experience the next transformation, it will be critical to continue to develop talent in STEM fields as well as the arts and humanities.
Kenya will be at SXSW for her AI panel with L’Oreal and LVMH Innovation Award winner Heuritech on Friday, March 9. More details available here.