Ep 68: Pamela Metivier: You Don’t Have to Be Exceptional to Be Equal

Diva Tech Talk was happy to interview Monsoon Strategy Partner, Pam Metivier, Co-Creator of STEAMTeam ®5, a children’s book series focused on getting girls excited about STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math.

Not to give TOO much away, Pam considers this not just a book series but “the beginning of a movement.” The books tell the stories of five amazing girls (Sandia Scientist, Treeka Technologist, Evelyn Engineer, Ariana Artist, and Mattie Mathematician) who comprise STEAMTeam® 5.  They use science, technology, engineering, art, and math to accomplish their goals. Designed to inspire and teach, the series and Pam’s career are both directed to an objective near and dear to @divatechtalks:  inspiring girls (and women) to join, stay and lead in the field of technology. The series can be acquired on Amazon (www.amazon.com) or on its own website (www.steamteam5.com).

Pam was always a tech maven. “As a child I always liked to take things apart.  I took apart my favorite Christmas gift: a Timex watch, when I was about 8,” she said. “And I’ve also been interested in writing my entire life.  So, I got a degree in technical writing” from Oklahoma State University (https://go.okstate.edu/).

Influenced by her brother, a software engineer, Pam’s early career focused on writing technical and design specifications. “I sought out software organizations.” Her first job was as a senior tech writer at hospitality software company, Sulcus Hospitality Group with an office based in Arizona.  “I started out writing manuals. I had to use the product(s) to write about them,” she explained. “In doing so, you identify opportunities to make the product better.”  Her next logical career step, then, was into product marketing. “For me, it was twofold. I became very interested in a role contributing to product features and usability. And in 1995, I was working for a software company (First Data Corporation: https://www.firstdata.com/)  that decided it wanted to create the first online banking application. I taught myself HTML.” Pam was subsequently recruited into First Data’s product development team, writing this breakthrough application. “At that point I was defining requirements, and stuff like that.”

In 1997, Pam moved to Silicon Valley, as a technical writer, for Vantive, a company whose main product was a software suite created to integrate call centers and help desks with field service personnel.  (Vantive was subsequently acquired by PeopleSoft, then swallowed by Oracle Corporation – www.oracle.com -  in 2002.)  From technical writer, Pam was promoted to direct Vantive’s Website development.  “Then I moved to co-found my first startup, and it was a little scary but very exciting.” She headed product marketing at Clip2, her company, one of the first social bookmarking sites.  There she realized: “I’m really a product person at heart, so even through to today, a lot of my activity is connected to product marketing, and technology marketing.” Pam said that “I can always use the tools that I recommend my clients should use.”

She is highly enthusiastic about STEAMTeam®5.  “My business partner and I created this series.  He invented it while he was playing with his daughter.  He wanted to infuse education into their playtime.” But the real breakthrough came when Pam attended the Washington D.C. WOMEN’S MARCH in January 2017 (https://www.womensmarch.com/). “I left there wondering: What can I do to contribute in a positive way to the issues that I care about most, which are education, science, women and girls, and their equality?”  STEAMTeam®5 was her answer.  Her hope is that girls reading it would “identify with role models, who are young and fun and someone they would like to be, someday.”

Having founded two companies, Pam’s advice for entrepreneurs is “you have to be in a position to ‘go all in’.  Watch your budget; downsize if you have to. But you can’t do it, halfway.” As a product marketing consultant for 15 years, Pam has seen what she calls “game changers” in tech marketing:  search and email in the earlier days; and today, the power of social media, remarketing and social advertising.  She avidly uses technology daily.  “I use 5 to 7 pieces of technology to promote the STEAM5 project,” as an example.

In discussing tech equity: “The problem starts with girls younger than we thought.  We need to start with girls when they’re very, very young --- even preschool age.” While STEAMTeam®5 was written for those from 7 to 11 years of age, the audience for the series can be kids as young as 3, with their parents reading to them.    She said “I think that children are born innate scientists. They should be taught that things they do in their typical play, in their typical day, all use STEAM skills.”  Pam stressed that if a parent or teacher connects simple things to engineering and science, children will understand that “science is fun!” She suggested that parents point that out, consistently, because “kids will be less intimidated later.”

Pam emphasized: “You don’t have to exceptional to be equal.  I think that is a message that young girls need to hear. My goal is to normalize seeing women and girls in STEM/STEAM courses at school, and in tech careers.”

As a busy Mom and entrepreneur, Pam said that she takes it “one day at a time.  Did I balance on that particular day?” Also, “I take little breaks from work to check in with my child to just make sure that he is engaged; or we’ll do something fun together.”  Additionally, she said: “I’m working really hard on putting my phone away.”

Pam Metivier can be reached on Twitter at @metivier.

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Diva Tech Talk Team

Podcast Divas