Michele Titolo is the CTO and a Board Member of Women Who Code, as well as the iOS Engineer at Reddit. Michele has a great story about how her curiosity for technology lead to a passion and a career. I personally really enjoyed learning about Michele’s pathway and are sure you will too.
Women Who Code has a membership exceeding 16,000, and has a presence in 14 countries. Did you ever imagine the project would get so much traction?
When I started organizing events with Women Who Code, we were just about 2,000 members and almost all in the Bay Area. The events that we run are unique to what most people have experienced. I knew that we’d expand quickly, but the rate at which we have grown greatly exceeded my expectations. Every week we send out our newsletter which announces both new networks and the growth of new ones. What started out as something somewhat novel has turned into weekly reminders of why our work is so important.
How did you first realize that you had a passion for, and were good with technology and coding?
My first introduction to any sort of coding was when I was in middle school. I became kind of obsessed with Neopets, and picked up HTML and CSS to customize my profile and guild. From there I moved on to blogging, going from the popular platforms of the day like Xanga and Livejournal, eventually to my own hosted site. I received my first domain as my middle school graduation present. There wasn’t one particular moment that I can point to where I realized I was good at programming. My confidence built over time. Coding became a hobby for me, and I eventually took 2 programming classes in college. One was web development with PHP, and the other an introduction to “iPhone programming.” Though I’d been programming for quite some time at that point, I hadn’t found a platform that I really enjoyed until I started doing iOS. There’s something about writing software that people use–literally–in their hands that fascinated me. So I dove in and haven’t looked back since.
How did you get involved with Women Who Code?
I first started attending Women Who Code events in July 2012. At that time we had a weekly Ruby study group, but I went to the hack nights and other larger group events like lightning talks. I gave my first ever talk at Women Who Code lightning talks. A few months later, I was throwing the idea around of starting an iOS focused study group, partially because I wanted to see more women coming into my specialty, and partially because I wanted to meet more women iOS developers. It was a huge experiment for me, and I learned so much from teaching. The iOS focused group went through a few phases, and now runs every Monday as the more generic Mobile Study Group. Alaina approached me last fall, when Women Who Code was preparing our paperwork for becoming a non-profit, and asked me to be CTO. Of course I said yes, and now I manage things like our website and GitHub.
Is this a full time gig for you, if not, what takes us the rest of your days?
This is not a full time job for me. I started at reddit a few months ago working on iOS apps. We released our first app, focused on the popular Ask Me Anything interview in September. It has been extremely exciting and interesting to work at a company with so many users but without any official apps. I face unique challenges in both of my roles, and enjoy having an impact on people’s day to day life.