As you might have noticed, there are not a lot of women in the tech industry and WordPress is no exception. In this interview, we asked Christie about her experience with WordPress as well as her opinion about the gender gap in this industry, as she very successful in it and has useful information to share.
Could you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Christie Chirinos and I am one of the co-owners of Caldera WP we make WordPress products, including Caldera Forms which is a pretty popular drag and drop form builder for WordPress.
What is the history behind you and WordPress? How did it all start? Why WordPress?
This is pretty funny. When I was in college I started a business that aimed to teach young people about personal finance through technology – how to save your money budget your money. I didn’t know the first thing about web development, I had this idea and I really cared about teaching people to manage their money. So my website was WordPress.
From there it became a matter of – if I don’t want to have to get in contact with a web developer every time I want something then I need to learn WordPress. And getting involved in that technology, the scene that was going on around the project that I was doing was good. That’s how I met my now business partner Josh who worked very deeply with WordPress at that point. And I said “Hey, look I’m learning a ton about this new style, learning a ton about this stuff, it’s new to me. And I would love to just like get to learn more from you.” And a year and a half later after staying in touch we went to business together.
Obviously, we all know there’s a lack of women in the tech industry and WordPress is. No exception at all. So. So you are a great example of a very successful woman in this industry so why do you think that is why is there a lack of women here?
I think a lot of it has to do with a larger problem at hand of women in technology as a whole. Our society tends to treat technology and especially software development as a men’s thing.
I tell people the story almost all the time where I’m making websites since I was like 14 years old, not WordPress websites, just random websites. I was super into the computer, I set up my own online store, I set up my own website to promote my business when I was 14, teaching kids piano. No one in my life was like “wow you’re making websites.” That didn’t click in anyone’s head where I bet you if I had been a boy, they would have been like “oh wow they’re really good at computers.” But instead, it was like “oh you’re teaching piano and you probably won’t make that much money as a teacher. But if you love it, you can.” And then my store was for my jewelry. So it was like “Oh she likes making jewelry.”
So this is how our world puts people in boxes without necessarily thinking about them and everything they’re doing. And then I think open source is even a little bit more alienating to women because it’s all out in the public. So it’s much more ripe for harassment and abuse. These two factors together may become a difficult thing. But I think that that’s changing a lot. I think that even when Josh and I started working together it was “Where are the women?” And now you and I are sitting here and there are tons of really amazing and inspiring women coming to these events and running their businesses and a lot of women that I’m looking to like “You’re a badass CEO.” That’s awesome.
Do you think that there are going to be a lot more women in the future in the tech industry and in WordPress?
I think it has to even out. I mean 50 percent of the population is women. And we are gravitating towards making that happen. So at some point, we’re going to have 50 percent of women in leadership and maybe even more. We actually know that when we look at the patterns of business that are run by women. Women are more emotionally intelligent so they’re better leaders. Women are more sensitive to the needs of a team. So they run more profitable enterprises. We might even see that scales up a little bit forward.
There is a woman who’s very famous here in the U.S. – Ruth Bader Ginsburg who’s the Supreme Court justice. There’s this very famous quote from her where somebody asks her how many women the Supreme Court will be enough. And she says all of them. And their like “How can you say that?” Well, there’s been a Supreme Court with all men. Why not all women.
And what would be your advice for any girl who wants to join the industry?
I think, don’t be afraid. Definitely what I just said – when we look at the numbers and the statistics women run more successful businesses. So it’s actually an advantage. I think that a lot of women aren’t necessarily thinking about your womanhood when you go into business. You’re thinking about your idea and the thing that you’re excited about. And then when you start doing business your womanhood is thrown in your face. And so don’t let that derail you and just keep moving forward. Know that and be like oh that’s why that happened. And then just keep moving forward.