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June 3, 2020

Putting People First Through Accessibility featuring Eve Andersson, Director of Accessibility at Google: Women In Tech San Francisco

Putting People First Through Accessibility featuring Eve Andersson, Director of Accessibility at Google: Women In Tech San Francisco

Today we get to know Eve Andersson, Director of Accessibility at Google; Putting People First Through Accessibility.

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Eve Andersson of Google

“Putting People First Through Accessibility”

#womenintech Show is a WeAreTech.fm production.

  • To support the Women in Tech podcast go to https://www.patreon.com/womenintech
  • To be featured on the podcast go to http://womenintechshow.com/feature

Host, Espree Devora



Eve Andersson of Google


Be featured in the Women in Tech Community by creating your profile here http://womenintechvip.com/

In LA? Here’s some awesome resources for you to become immersed in the LA Tech scene -
For a calendar of all LA Startup events go to, http://WeAreLATech.com

Get Podcast Listeners, http://getpodcastlisteners.com/

Resources Mentioned:

  • Google, https://www.google.com/
  • Google Maps, https://www.google.com/maps
  • Tinkercad, https://www.tinkercad.com/
  • Freakonomics, https://freakonomics.com/
  • Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/386162.The_Hitchhiker_s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy
  • Spacetime Physics, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1000529.Spacetime_Physics
  • Ada Majorek on Dasher, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvHQ83pMLQQ
  • Dasher on GitHub, https://github.com/dasher-project/
  • Eve on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/eveandersson/


Putting People First Through Accessibility featuring Eve Andersson, Director of Accessibility at Google: Women In Tech San Francisco

Eve Andersson: I think it's important to think of things you do in life as an experiment. And it's almost true, no matter what you do, as long as it's not life or death. As long as you don't burn bridges on the way out. It's okay to step out on a limb.

Espree Devora (Host): My name's Espree Devora, host of the Women in Tech show. The show means a lot to me. The reason why I wanted to create the Women in Tech show is I wanted to create a positive piece of content. Something where people can listen and say, "If she can do it so can I."

Espree Devora: If you too want to connect and collaborate with more incredible women in tech, remember you can go to the Women in Tech Facebook group at womenintechvip.com. That's womenintechvip.com. The best business resource I have is my mentors private Facebook group. I've never found a community that cares more about one another's success. It inspired me to create the same thing for podcasters. If you're a tech company or startup looking to grow your podcast audience, I created getpodcastlisteners.com, a private group specifically to discover how other podcasters have grown their audiences so we could do the same. Check out, getpodcastlisteners.com. That's getpodcastlisteners.com.

Espree Devora: For those of you who listen regularly know I am obsessed with software and tools to make you more efficient and productive. So new tool discovery of the week is things to No-Code MVP. Discovered a website builder called Carrd CA-R-R-D. It does look really cool. Admittedly, I have not used it myself, but I've watched tons of ways that it's been used. Like to recreate the buffer, the famous buffer landing page and all other ways. So check out C-A-R-R-D .co. They do not know I'm saying this, but it is really cool the power that is has.

Espree Devora: Another website builder that I've come across is called web flow. That one looks so dope too. That's webflow.com, W-E-B-F-L-O-W .com. And it looks awesome. I think out of the two, the one I'm going to play with first is Webflow. No particular reason why. I just feel that way, but maybe after watching a bunch of YouTube videos, I'll go back and I'll play with Carrd. I don't know. We'll see. I'm looking for the one that is the easiest, easiest, fastest to do without any code and without any trouble. Hope that helps the little discovery, and enjoy the next episode.

Espree Devora: Welcome back to the Women in Tech podcast, celebrating women in tech around the world. So excited for our next interview, welcoming Eve from San Francisco. Hello, Eve.

Eve Andersson: Hi Espree. It's great to be here.

Espree Devora: Oh my gosh. I am so excited to have you on. I can't wait for you to share your story. Why don't we kick things off with you telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Eve Andersson: I am Director of Accessibility at Google. And by accessibility, I mean that we create software that helps people with disabilities. I am also a mother to a beautiful three-year-old boy named Oliver.

Espree Devora: And if you're comfortable, one thing that I love to touch in on is how to be a driven leader and committed to your family at the same time. The whole do it all. I think it's important to remember that no matter our gender, we can do it all. And I like to share examples of that.

Espree Devora: But to kind of ignite the conversation, working in a space that definitely needs more attention. And especially in the podcasting world, that's something that we could improve on as an industry as a whole. Can you tell us more about that? How do you work with the disabled community and how do you empower them?

Eve Andersson: It is all about listening to people and understanding what's important to them. What are the needs that aren't being solved? I think sometimes, people start with the technology and try to fit that into solutions. Whereas it should really be the opposite. Working with people, making sure that people with disabilities are part of the community working on the products in the company. Doing outreach to people around the world who don't work at your company. And really understanding and listening. That's the most important thing.

Espree Devora: What's your day to day look like?

Eve Andersson: Every day is very different, which works for me. I love it that way. I think my role, I'm overseeing accessibility across the company. Which means I'm working with hundreds of colleagues across Google. Who work on product development, who do engineering, who do marketing, or communications, or education. So many different things. So a lot of my time is spent talking with people, working with people, figuring out ways in which we can collaborate and just do things together.

Eve Andersson: This is kind of off the cuff and something I've definitely never brought up on the Women in Tech podcast, but I think it would empower all of us. Can you share with us some things that we could do as a community to be better listeners and to make things more accessible? Like podcasting. What's something I can do as a podcaster, not to put you on the spot Eve. But if you don't mind, what's something I could do as a podcaster to make the women in tech podcast more accessible to everyone?

Eve Andersson: Well, I think podcasting is a fairly verbal means of communication. There is no video component to it. So of course the most important thing is to have transcripts available to people. But there's also making sure that the words are clear. Because every disability, there's a range. It's not deaf or hearing. It can be anything in between. So sure that there's good audio quality, that there's not too much distracting noise, or music, or other things.

Espree Devora: And are there certain terms that are empowering terms that we should be using as a community? Like earlier I used the word disabled. Is that not an appropriate word? Should I be using a different word?

Eve Andersson: Well, there's no consensus on this really. There are things that some people prefer. Often people prefer what's called person first language. So you would say a person with a disability as opposed to a disabled person.

Espree Devora: A person with a disability. I will remember that indeed. And when did you get started on this journey in becoming passionate about being supportive, about spending a lot of attention on accessibility?

Eve Andersson: Well, I got started working on it seven years ago. And in a way, it was by chance. I was working at Google and I had a friend named Raman. He's a blind engineer at Google. And I just happened to run into him in one of Google's famous cafeterias. We had been friends for years, but on this fateful day, he mentioned that the accessibility team was hiring. And for me, it was pretty much a no brainer. It just seemed so exciting to me to be able to have an opportunity to work on something that helps fulfill Google's mission of making the world's information available to everybody.

Eve Andersson: So I decided to do it. That was seven years ago, and I haven't looked back. It's been so fulfilling. Of course emotionally fulfilling, but also just intellectually fulfilling. Because accessibility isn't just about a checklist of things that you're supposed to do when you make software or hardware. It's also about innovation. And now that machine learning has taken off so widely and capabilities of machines are greater than ever before, this presents a lot of opportunities for building really innovative things for people.

Espree Devora: It's funny is that I'm just going to call myself out and I'm sorry for anybody that may get upset with me. But I'm so ignorant. I've never thought that you could be blind and still code. That's so ignorant of me and it makes me want to champion more engineers who are blind and code. I'm really moved that really we could achieve anything we want to achieve, as long as we know that the resources that are in place. It's one of the reasons why I created this Women in Tech podcast. So what are some of the resources that exist for people with a disability to move forward in an engineering career? If we could talk about that just for a second. I think it's awesome.

Eve Andersson: Yeah. Well, I love the broader point that you're making, which is that technology really can be something that helps level the playing field for people. As long as the people who are involved in creating the technology and deciding what technology to use in their schools, in their workplaces. As long as they actually take into account building and buying accessible software, we can enable people to do whatever they're good at doing and not be held back.

Eve Andersson: So there are a lot of different assistive technologies. That's what we call technologies that help people with disability. So there are technologies that help blind people for example, understand what's on the screen, it can be a screen reader, it can be braille output. It really depends on the person's preference. Or if a person has low vision, magnification tools for example, or contrast.

Eve Andersson: For people with motor impairments, which means that they might have trouble using their hands or other parts of their body. You can use things like mechanical switches. You can use voice control of applications.

Eve Andersson: So really, a lot of assistive technologies are about changing a mode of input. So not having to tape, not having to use a mouse. Or changing a mode of output. So not having to see, or not having to hear. So really if it's done right, nobody should face limitations in the work that they do.

Espree Devora: I love that. I love that. And something I am inspired to ask is one that's something I think about all the time with the community I work in Los Angeles tech and women in tech globally. I have this desire to get to understand as many people's perspectives as possible, so that we could be a good representation. It's hard to describe, I feel like I still don't do the job that I desire to do and end that I strive to do. The question I want to ask is how do you feel you've evolved in the last seven years pre working in accessibility and now? What's something opening that we could all learn from so we could evolve too? Does that make sense?

Eve Andersson: Oh yeah, it definitely makes sense. And I think I continue to evolve, even though I've been working in this area for seven years. I continue to learn about different people and their stories, and what they care about. And it really is about listening and meeting people, and talking to people, and not generalizing. Not thinking that everybody with a disability or really anybody from any group is the same. So I have some really great colleagues who I just love spending time with.

Eve Andersson: I'll tell you about one of them. His name is Dimitri Kanevsky, and he's a research scientist at Google. Brilliant mathematician. He has been deaf since he was very young, I think age of two or so. And he was having difficulty having conversations with his colleagues at work. And one of his colleagues decided, "Well, let's build something. Let's create something to help."

Eve Andersson: And so he started engineering this thing, which we actually released last year. It's called Live Transcribe. And it transcribes the words that somebody is saying when you're talking with them live, or even over video conference you could use it. So it's made such a difference for Dimitri. And for me, when I'm with him. For example, before this lockdown started and I was having lunch in Google's cafeterias, I ran into him one day. And I was able to just sit down with him at the table in the cafeteria. And we just had a normal conversation. And previously, we would have had to schedule somebody to do remote captioning, or something else to be able to understand each other, especially in a noisy environment. So that was really meaningful. And I think the coolest story for me is that he is able to use this now to communicate with his twin six year old grandchildren.

Espree Devora: Oh wow. That's so cool. And that's for several reasons, it's so important to understand a diverse range of human beings. Because we're able to more effectively communicate with one another if we understand that, on top of every other reason that it's important too. But the innovation that comes out from having the desire to understand more people and having that desire to serve and to help creates innovation like you're talking about. That's really, really cool. So what were you doing before this seven year evolution? What was your dream in tech before then? What were you working on?

Eve Andersson: I've done a whole bunch of different things. My job immediately before this one was pretty exciting too. And if accessibility weren't something I'm so passionate about, I don't know if I ever would have wanted to leave that either.

Eve Andersson: I was leading technical partnerships for Latin America, for Google. I was living in New York at the time, but I got to fly down all the time to various countries, especially in South America. My team was in Argentina and in Brazil. and we were working with partners all around the continent to help them have better technical integrations with Google's ad products. So that was lots of fun too.

Espree Devora: And we're going to get into the very, very beginning. But just before we go there, what was the spark that you had before you were presented the opportunity to work in the division you're in now? Did you have a spark in that subject matter beforehand? Or did it come with the role? Because you have a sincere passion. I see the smile on your face, and it's awesome. It's bright and it's vibrant, and so genuine. But was it an educational process and you developed that passion, or was it a curiosity that developed into that passion?

Eve Andersson: I grew up with family members with disabilities. So I think it was always in my subconscious that people with disabilities deserve to have the same opportunities in life as everybody else.

Eve Andersson: Growing up, my favorite aunt, Aunt Sandy. I loved her so much. She was in a wheelchair. She had muscular dystrophy. And my dad actually, my dad was an engineer. And he built an attachment for her wheelchair. So I never thought that I was following in my dad's footsteps, but I guess my dad actually did accessibility engineering too.

Espree Devora: I mean, I've said it on podcast episodes before that my dad had a huge influence. I mean, the influence in my journey into tech. It's a perfect transition. Let's jump into that. So when do you first remember being curious about technology? Was it when your dad engineered this, you called it an accessory for the wheelchair. Is that how you said it?

Eve Andersson: I think I said attachment, but same thing.

Espree Devora: Attachment. Yeah. Was it then, or was there another point after that or before that, that you really felt that spark?

Eve Andersson: Well, I grew up with technology and I always liked it from the very beginning. I remember my dad sitting down with me at his computer. He had a really antiquated computer, or probably modern by those standards. The five and a quarter inch diskettes. And I remember him showing me how to program in BASIC. So writing spaghetti code-

Espree Devora: That is so awesome.

Eve Andersson: I know. I mean, looking back-

Espree Devora: That's really cool. I'm so jealous.

Eve Andersson: It was BASIC code, so it was really, really bad what we call spaghetti code because you can't really follow it. The syntax of BASIC is really, really bad.

Espree Devora: How old were you?

Eve Andersson: I don't remember exactly, but I was young. I was really, really young. And that was so much fun. And I remember hanging out with my dad in the workshop. He would do woodworking. And I was standing there with him. I think we weren't so protective about kids in those days. So I was helping him cut things with a bandsaw and drill things with the drill press. It was so much fun. So I feel like it was integrated into my life. Here's a story about my dad's personality.

Espree Devora: Please.

Eve Andersson: So he was from Sweden. And he had what's known as Swedish humor, which sometimes people say or lack thereof. Swedish people really like bad jokes. And I know I'm overgeneralizing. Sorry to any Swedish people out there. But a joke that he made up is the following. How do you brainwash someone?

Espree Devora: How?

Eve Andersson: With an IQ tip.

Espree Devora: I didn't know if you would laugh or groan, you're kind of doing something in between.

Eve Andersson: Here's another dad thing. So instead of making Swedish meatballs like a normal Swedish parent would, he didn't want to thought of the hamburger meat. That was too much effort. So he would chop it up into blocks, and he called it meat parallelepipeds.

Espree Devora: Honestly, I love them. It's like what. I find these jokes oddly relaxing.

Eve Andersson: I love it.

Espree Devora: Okay. You're making me think about Europe in general. I love it. So going in, so your dad was this huge influence in your life. And I feel connected to the stories that you're sharing so much so. And then when was the first four way into it professionally? Did you start studying it in school, or was it an internship out of school? What were those beginning pathways?

Eve Andersson: Actually when I started college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was always the kind of person who was interested in everything. I liked literature, I loved math, physics, everything.

Eve Andersson: So I ended up stunning engineering and applied science. Which is a pretty general major encompassing a lot of things. And I specialized in mechanical engineering. And the reason I did that, I didn't really think about it at the time. But looking back, I think it was probably because of a professor I had. Professor Melany Hunt at Caltech. And I just saw this amazing woman teaching mechanical engineering classes and doing research, real world class research. And I thought well, maybe I can follow in her footsteps.

Eve Andersson: So that's what I studied. I wasn't even studying computer science. But then while I was a student, the internet really started to take off. The web did. So that was when I saw that computing was more than calculations and other things. That it was really becoming something that was about communication, that was about connecting people. And that's when I really started becoming interested in it. And I started getting paid gigs doing it while I was a student.

Espree Devora: How did you do that? Did you apply? I just think it's important for people to see the connection. Did you apply, did you find them, were they on a job board? How did you connect to those paid gigs?

Eve Andersson: Yeah. Well, this was a while ago. And there weren't that many people with personal websites back then. They mostly found me.

Espree Devora: Because you had the one personal website on the web?

Eve Andersson: I had a website all about the number pi, which I was madly in love with.

Espree Devora: Oh my god. I love it. I absolutely love it. So jumping forward, how did you end up being connected into this opportunity with Google? What did you love about the culture at Google and wanting to be part of that ecosystem?

Eve Andersson: I think almost every opportunity I've ever had was about connections with people. The story of how I got into Google is really no different from that. So at the time, I was living in Salt Lake City and I was doing an executive MBA part time. So I was flying to San Francisco a couple of times a month to take classes.

Eve Andersson: And one of my classmates was at Google. And I had never thought of myself as a Google type of person before. I always thought I was a startup type of person, entrepreneur. Like you. But Google of course was a company that I admired a lot, because it was really changing the way that people interacted with content on the web.

Eve Andersson: So he just told me about his job, and I got interviews through that connection. And that's how I ended up at Google. And I loved it. If you can just imagine walking into Google. all of these really smart people, energetic people, innovative people. I felt like a kid in a candy store, just too many interesting conversations to choose from.

Espree Devora: I completely understand that feeling. And one thing I want to touch on. Before we started recording, you mentioned that you've listened to the Women in Tech podcast and that you really like it. And I was curious, and I have an intent in asking this. What is it about you that makes you moved by the content? Why do you like the show?

Eve Andersson: Well, I really like that you've gathered together this amazing group of women around the entire world, who have really vastly different experiences. Some of the people grew up knowing that they were going to work in technology, some majored in computer science. Others did completely different things and then found themselves on this path. But they all come at it with a genuine love for what they do. And an appreciation of it. Also Espree, the other reason I really enjoy it is because of you.

Espree Devora: I'm going to blush.

Eve Andersson: I know. I apologize. But your energy and positivity, and how you draw out these stories from so many people.

Espree Devora: Thank you so much. I'm obviously very flattered. My intent though, that I thought would be helpful as part of the conversation is, so I have a lot of questions that come up. I'm sure they come up with you too, is what is it to be in tech? What does that mean? And then some people say, "I have a lifestyle podcast." And I think it's important to understand our journey where other people say, "Well if it's in tech, it has to be a conversation about coding." What is your point of view? Why do you or don't you think it's just as important to tell the story of our journey throughout technology, in addition to having a conversation of what is it to code?

Eve Andersson: Yeah. Coding is just one little piece of it. There's so much more. A lot of tech is about people. It's about understanding people and finding a way to help people through what you create. So it's not about coding, it's about an entire ecosystem and communities, and things that you can create together.

Espree Devora: So what does being in tech mean to you? It means the word community?

Eve Andersson: I don't think it means the word community, because I think community, there's some overlap between community and tech, but it's not the same thing really. I think technology is about creating new things that somehow enhance people's lives.

Espree Devora: Do you think the term in tech means to code?

Eve Andersson: No, it's much, much, much broader than that. And people of all different types of roles are in tech. There are people in marketing and finance, and communications, and user experience design, and research, and just so many different things. And coding is one tiny piece of the puzzle.

Espree Devora: I think it's a really important little micro conversation to have because I connect with so many women that say, "I can't be on your show. I don't code." And I'm like, "I don't need you to code to be in tech. You founded a tech company," or whatever it may be. So I think it's interesting to kind of take a beat every now and again, to have that reminder of ... I don't know, this is going to sound so hokey. But of acceptance. Of empowerment and acceptance that you don't have to code to be in tech. And you are worth being celebrated. Well for many reasons, but also working in the tech space and moving things forward even if you're not an engineer. It still means you're an important part of the bigger puzzle.

Espree Devora: Speaking of the bigger puzzle, since you listen to the show, you probably know I ask this question all the time. It's my favorite question to ask. What is a huge obstacle you've successfully overcome? And how did you overcome it?

Speaker 3: Stick around. We'll be right back after the break.

Espree Devora: We would not be able to support and celebrate women in tech around the world if it weren't for you. Thank you so much for being a listener and a fan of the show. To contribute and donate, simply go to womenintech.fm on the upper right hand side and click donate, which empowers us to continue celebrating women in tech around the world. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

Espree Devora: What is a huge obstacle you've successfully overcome? And how did you overcome it?

Eve Andersson: There have been so many over the course of my career. Actually, how I like to think of my career is like a rubber band. So I stretch myself almost to the point of breaking, and then I let it relax and I can feel competent for a little while. And then I stretch, and then I achieve competence over, and over, and over again. Eventually the rubber band becomes bigger.

Eve Andersson: But I think one of the places where I really stretched myself was the year I spent on assignment in Argentina. So I had this technical partnerships role. But at this point, I was living in London. I hadn't even started the Latin American role that I told you about. So I was living in London, and I saw this posting internally for a one year assignment in Argentina. It was in the sales department. It was a job role that I had never done before in a completely different department, working with people who I didn't know. And speaking 100% Spanish. And I applied for it.

Espree Devora: Of course you did. Of course you did. I love it.

Eve Andersson: Well, and they gave it to me. And at first I wondered was I the only one who applied. But apparently there was competition for the role.

Espree Devora: I love it.

Eve Andersson: And you know how women do tend to not apply for roles until they feel like they have 100% of the qualifications. And I think we're really limiting ourselves when we do that. I think just apply. And whoever's doing the hiring decision, they can decide if you have enough transferrable skills to do the role.

Eve Andersson: So I applied. I got it. I moved to Argentina, and I felt so useless. For the first three months, I spoke some Spanish, but I did not speak it well. I couldn't really follow the meetings. I was trying to catch up on the notes afterwards. I was studying Spanish every night when I got home. The role was completely different. There was nobody in that job function with me in Argentina. My colleagues were-

Espree Devora: This is so interesting-

Eve Andersson: Were scattered. So I was learning the role and living in a new place. The first few weeks, I was in a hotel that was a little bit sketchy. So that was probably very much the deep end of the pool because I was doing so many things at the same time that I had no idea how to do. But even with that over time, I learned. And I think by the end of the assignment there, I was actually pretty good at that job.

Espree Devora: Wait, but how did you not quit? What was your head space? What did you hold onto that you just didn't quit?

Eve Andersson: Yeah, I think it's important to think of things you do in life as an experiment. It was an experiment. I tried that role. If I needed to, I could have gone back to the previous one. And it's almost true no matter what you do, as long as it's not life or death. As long as you don't burn bridges on the way out, it's okay to step out on a limb, see what happens. And you have some kind of safety net. Other companies you can go to. You're not going to just find yourself unemployed because you have this one hard experience.

Eve Andersson: So I think I approached it with that kind of mindset. And that gave me the confidence that I could just try to do it. And if it didn't work okay, but might as well give it a shot.

Espree Devora: I think that is so cool. That's so cool. I think making it through those months where it just felt torturous and hanging in there anyway, it's very inspiring.

Espree Devora: One thing that I brought up at the beginning of the interview that I'd like to touch note on is I think at the tech culture, we have this hustle, hustle, harder, grind. All these words, grind, grind, hustle, hustle. And there's no space for self-care. There's no space to be a loving family member, to be a friend, to prioritize eating well. That's just notorious. Ramen and startups, and tech is notorious with one another. What kind of insight can you give us on what it takes or how to think in order to make enough time for both our personal priorities as well as our professional priorities in tandem?

Eve Andersson: Well, I think women feel like they have to be perfect. Which really is shooting ourselves in the foot. Because you don't have to get 100% of the way there. You can achieve 90% of a lot of things in half the time. So I think if we can get over that, that can really help a lot.

Eve Andersson: For me, I think one of the best pieces of advice that I ever heard came from one of the leaders at Google at one of the internal conferences. He said to the entire room, "Take care of yourself. You're in this for the long run. This is not a short term thing. You have a long career ahead of you. And if you don't take care of yourself now, then you're not going to be able to achieve nearly as much as you will in the long run."

Eve Andersson: So I really took that to heart right then and there. And started to think like that. And I say similar things to my team members as well. It's about wellbeing and about having happy, productive team members. And in the end, the results are going to be better.

Espree Devora: I love it. I think I learned the hard way, and I'm still learning. I still feel a lot of resistance to it. If I don't take care of myself, I'm not able to serve others. And I still fight it. And then I retreat. I'm like, "Okay, I have to go slower." Somebody recently said something like to go slow is to go fast. Or something. I'm like man, working on it. Working on it. What are some of your favorite tech tools?

Eve Andersson: Well, I think my favorite one to play with is Google Maps. I've just always loved maps, and I like cartography, and I love the old maps where things are out of proportion. And it's interesting. You get in the mind of the person creating the map. Why are things not to scale? What were they thinking? Why did the world seem this way to them? So I think that's really fascinating, and it's fun to just explore the world.

Eve Andersson: But the other technology that I just tried for the first time last weekend, and I loved it, is called Tinkercad. Tinkercad lets you build 3D models that then you can print with your 3D printer just using a web page. And it's pretty intuitive and really fun.

Eve Andersson: And the reason that I thought to try it out was that I was playing with my three-year-old. And he has Legos. He also has a marble run. Which is lots of fun. You put marbles in, you can build these really complicated structures. And he wanted a connecter between them. And they weren't connecting. The pieces just slide off of each other. And I thought wow, they can build some really cool things if we can connect these. So I designed a Lego marble run connector, where now the different types of pieces can be held together. And I printed it out on a 3D printer, and it worked.

Espree Devora: I love it. I love it. I hear from a lot of parents that there's this curious playfulness that comes by being a parent. That for some reason, if you don't have children, you're not an easy access to. And it helps expand the mind and create more solution in ways you wouldn't have thought of before. I'm probably not describing it well. But I hear it a lot on interviews with people who have children. That this curious playfulness, I know that I'm usually so stressed out. I need to spend more time learning how to be playful.

Eve Andersson: Just have a kid.

Espree Devora: Yeah, exactly. Right?

Eve Andersson: Or play with somebody else's. That's easier.

Espree Devora: And I always love to ask, I know it's a little bit of an archaic question, but I still think it's so much fun. What books are your favorite?

Eve Andersson: Well, I have a whole bunch of paper books that I have not put out in on the corner, even though I am always trying to make space. And the reason is I'm saving them for my son for when he gets older. So there are a few I'm really excited about reading with him.

Eve Andersson: One is Freakonomics. Because I love anything that turns something that seems intractable, societal things into something that can actually be analyzed and understood. Another one is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Also, there's one called Spacetime physics, which explains special relativity in the most intuitive way possible. Which might not sound like it's that doable. But this book really does. It's amazing.

Eve Andersson: And then all of these travel books. Because of course you can look things up online these days. But he likes to flip through them and look at pictures. And it just creates these opportunities for serendipity and what you learn, and what you see. So I'm going to keep them, even if all of the guides are out of date. I don't care.

Espree Devora: I love it. I love it. I have tons of bookshelves with real books, and all my friends make fun of me. But I just, I don't know. I love ... my mentor is actually 19 if you could believe it. I don't care who I learn from as long as I get to learn. And he's extremely successful. And he said the way that he became successful is he read a book a week starting at 14. His books were his mentors. He's amazing. So yeah, I'm a big book fan. So is there anything you wanted me to ask that I didn't ask yet?

Eve Andersson: I'd love to tell a story about somebody I knew and loved, who I think can teach your listeners something really important. I had a colleague at Google named Ada Majorek. And she was a software engineer. She was diagnosed with ALS while she was working at Google. And she wasn't working on accessibility, but she decided that for the end of her life, she wanted to really do something that was going to contribute to society and help people's lives.

Eve Andersson: So she joined my accessibility team. And she worked on the software called Dasher. Which even though she was day by day losing the ability to speak, the ability to use her hands. Dasher allowed her to create written words which could then be spoken out using really minimal movements. And she actually worked on it and wrote a lot of the code for it.

Eve Andersson: And after she passed away, I was talking to her husband. And her husband said that Ada told him that she felt like being able to work on this prolonged her life by another year.

Eve Andersson: So I guess my lesson to people is no matter what your values are, what your passions are, just understand what's important to you. And then choose that, and that's going to make your life so much more meaningful.

Espree Devora: I love it. That was absolutely beautiful. So Eve, you have super inspired me for something that I haven't thought about before. No self-hate, let's just table the self-hate and I'm just going to go. I want to do something about it now. You have inspired me that I want to champion more women in tech who are living with disabilities. And if you could help expose me to that community so I can support and celebrate them, I would absolutely love that. Because I have not done that enough on this show. And I'd like to do it a lot more.

Eve Andersson: I think that's a great idea. I know some amazing people to introduce you to. And there's so many more people also. So what a great idea. Thank you.

Espree Devora: Yeah no, thank you. This is a show about connectivity. It's not just about connecting women. It's about connecting people. And I know I tell the story of women and women in tech. But for me, the message is just so much bigger. It's just about being a global voice and really peeking in on a point of view you wouldn't have had otherwise. So that we could all walk away empowered, evolved, and understand one another more. I know I'm getting a little bit sentimental.

Espree Devora: So Eve, if you could go back to the beginning of your career and give yourself one piece of advice, what piece of advice would that be?

Eve Andersson: I think I would give myself wellbeing advice for early in my career. I was really, really driven. And I pushed myself to the limits. I had my company. I was writing code day and night. I would fall asleep in my chair and wake up with computer keyboard marks all across my forehead.

Eve Andersson: And that was fine, because I got a lot done and had no social life. But I really didn't treat my body well enough. And I still have RSI or repetitive strain injury because of that. Because of how much I was typing over 20 years ago.

Eve Andersson: And thank goodness for assistive technologies, because I actually use my voice to do a lot of typing now. Because typing can be painful. But if I could go back and tell myself one thing, I think that would be the biggie.

Espree Devora: Oh wow. Wow. It's crazy how similar our paths have been between our fathers and overworking young, and then having this self-care realization. And I think a lot of people share that trajectory in their journey. Thank you for sharing that with us. And how about in the future? Where do you see yourself five, 10 years from now?

Eve Andersson: Well, I love what I'm doing now. So I won't be disappointed if I'm still working on accessibility. Though there is one area that I really love and would like to do more of, and that's education. It goes back to what I said earlier about leveling the playing field. And I really feel like there's an opportunity to help people all over the world, wherever they are, whatever their ability, or disability, or race, or gender, or all kinds of different factors that people are born into. I feel like education is the big leveler. And I would love to do more in that area.

Espree Devora: I love it. How can people connect with you? Are you on LinkedIn? What's best?

Eve Andersson: Yeah. LinkedIn is my main place.

Espree Devora: Can you spell your name for everybody?

Eve Andersson: Eve Andersson, E-V-E A-N-D-E-R-S-S-O-N. Note the two S's please.

Espree Devora: Eve, thank you so much for hanging out with the Women in Tech podcast. To connect and collaborate with more women in tech around the world, go to the Women in Tech Facebook group at womenintechvip.com, takes you straight there. Womenintechvip.com. Say hello on social at Women in Tech show on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook. I will see you guys. Talk to you guys here, you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Eve Andersson: Bye.

Eve Andersson: Hi, this is Eve Anderson. I work at Google. I'm Director of Accessibility, building technology to help people with disabilities. I'm based in San Francisco, California, and you're listening to Women in Tech.

Arlan Hamilton: Hi, this is Arlan Hamilton author of It's About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage. And you're listening to WeAreLATech.

Espree Devora: I feel so grateful. I've had the privilege of getting an advanced copy of Arlan Hamilton's new book It's About Damn Time. She is one of the most inspiring venture capitalists I've ever come across. Her story from having absolutely nothing and being completely broke, to being one of the most influential venture capitalists in the world blows my mind. And her book is insanely well written. Right when I picked it up, I didn't want to put it down. She teaches me and us how to become the asset, how to be our best selves, and how to be a person that not only creates opportunity for ourselves, but creates an abundance of opportunity for others. I'm so proud to share her book with you, and I hope you'll pick it up. And I know for sure, you'll be just as riveted as I was with each page you turn.

Arlan Hamilton: Get It's About Damn Time at itsaboutdamntime.com.

Espree Devora: The women in tech podcast is hosted and produced by me, Espree Devora.

Janice Geronimo: With help from Janice Geronimo.

Adam Carroll: Edited by Adam Carroll.

Espree Devora: And music from Jay Huffman live and Epidemic Sound. The women in tech podcast is a wearetech.fm production.


  • Produced and Hosted by Espree Devora, http://espreedevora.com
  • Story produced, Edited and Mastered by Adam Carroll, http://www.ariacreative.ca/

Short Title: Putting People First Through Accessibility