In recognition of International Women’s Day, which we are honoring a few days late because we’re in a serious growth stage, let’s take a look at Language I/O co-founders—both women—and their badassness.
Heather Morgan Shoemaker
Heather’s tech career has been bright but also mired in the discrimination that many women in tech have been exposed to.
Lucky for Language I/O and all companies hoping to communicate with their customers in any language (but terrible for women’s rights), Heather’s post-high school aspirations were to be a fighter pilot in the Air Force. However, once learning of her aspirations, the Air Force recruiter that was about to sign Heather said, “Oh, sorry sweetheart. Only men can be Air Force fighter pilots. How about administrative work?”
Being a badass, Heather left the contract unsigned and accepted a running scholarship to a school in the Pacific Northwest. Heather was a reporter for a period of time before going back to school to get a master’s degree in computer science. She then traveled around the world helping companies refactor their source code so their software applications could support multiple languages. It was during this period she encountered a repeating problem for companies going global – multilingual customer support.
When Heather tired of the uphill battles women in tech face and chilly corporate cultures, she jumped ship and started Language I/O.
“We decided early on that Language I/O is going to do its darndest to pay people well, provide great benefits and build a culture of support, inclusion and transparency,” Heather said. “One of my favorite things about growing Language I/O is helping people who have experienced discrimination find a work home that is supportive and nurturing.”
Enter Kaarina Kvaavik.
A Swedish national, Kaarina is the extrovert to Heather’s introvert. As a team, they are unstoppable.
Kaarina brought Heather the opportunity to build a multilingual customer support solution when one of her large clients couldn’t find a solution that would easily and effectively translate FAQs. At the tine Kaarina was working for a localization company. Kaarina asked, “Heather can you develop something that will solve this problem?”
Heather said “hell yeah.” A few years later, Kaarina and Heather brought their solution to a large national conference and signed on one of the country’s largest social media platforms. Today, Language I/O has numerous Fortune 500 clients and is rapidly growing. We haven’t, however, lost touch with our roots.
“We are actively appealing to women to apply for open positions at our company,” Heather said. “We let moms at our company take six-month leaves of absence with newborns and make sure that both their existing jobs as well as promotional opportunities await them when they get back. We openly advertise the fact that Language I/O is a women-founded, women-run business and this in turn attracts women to our company because they know they will find more empathy and opportunity here. We’re also willing to speak out against societal bias against women in the startup world.”