For Kate Stapleton (she/her), a cornerstone of tech’s development forward is a growing focus on accessibility and decentralization. Born and raised in Toronto (with extensive stays in the US, Europe and South Africa due to her mother’s international work), Kate holds a BBA from York University in Toronto and a second degree in English Lit from Concordia University in Montréal, the city she now calls home with her rescue dog from Lebanon. Kate’s tech background is rooted in her years spent as a cyber security researcher coupled with experience as a red team member, and the progression into her current full time career in blockchain—along with adjacent positions as the Blockchain Education Network’s VP and Axelar’s community lead—makes for a unique pathway in tech.
Breaking the code
A coder since her teenage years, Kate’s working life post-business school simply left her longing for more. Seeing coding and computer languages as running parallel to literature—each requiring skilled composition and creativity—she chose a return to academia in the English department. This career change embrace of her deep love of literature makes for an intriguing route back to tech, yet Kate’s view of language broken down to its building blocks reveals a fascinating viewpoint. “Computer languages are languages,” she says. “And if you can better understand the language that we work in every day, then perhaps you can translate that to the code you write and the programs that you write and add a little bit more humanity.”
Following her passions
Remembering the long hours spent in her room learning coding tips and tricks from online forums and library books, Kate recalls, “I’m self-taught, and it’s interesting because when you go the scholastic route you’re taught how to program to be employed, whereas I taught myself how to program to do the things that I wanted to do.” And while she admits some of those initial desires included a penchant for hacking, her current work involved with building programs that increase programming security continues to call back to those early experiences.
Discovering an identity
Kate initially realized her identity through the growth of social media and a burgeoning queer internet scene. And while she admits, “as someone who never really felt like I fit in, I just wanted to belong and queerness always had this insidious association with otherness,” a discovery of the true breadth of the queer spectrum led her to realizing her own place within it as both pansexual and asexual. Rather than leading to further feelings of exclusion, Kate’s online discoveries instead gave her a precious sense of community she’d long hoped for.
Enter the blockchain
Fascinated by the encryption and security technologies associated with Crytpocurrencies, Kate made the a full-time move to blockchain with a focus on education and breaking the boys club she experienced in cyber security. Encountering a somewhat more diverse and inclusive environment (in particular working with Ethereum), Kate sees a wealth of potential for underrepresented groups including women and queers in the development of blockchain technologies. Without a doubt, her journey from bedroom coding to blockchain education and decentralization Mark’s a one of a kind route in tech.
Watch the full conversation with Kate below!