Hack this experience please

Here’s an idea for all those cunning folks who think that the way to get women into tech is through fashion (I’m looking at you, IBM):

How about store service hackathons? We need someone writing register software that asks intelligent questions about purchases. Like “You’ve purchased 6 shirts of size X in this transaction – are you sure you wanted to buy that X*2 pair of pants?”

I would much rather the sales folks ask me if I meant to buy something *totally whacked* than ask me for my phone number so they can spam me with ads. They’d get more purchases from me and more loyalty too. And for those rare occasions where someone is buying something way off the pattern intentionally, a simple “yes” moves on the transaction.

Or an RFID system that helps you locate the single pair of 14 petite pants in the store.

Or a self-check system for when the store is mobbed and you just need this pair of earrings.

Or something that predicts the best time to go swimsuit shopping based on the shipment dates, staffing, and the number of other people in the store.

Or something that makes it easy to figure out the damn clothing sizing system.

Things that cut down on our mistakes and make us more comfortable trying to find that “right” outfit for that next event.

If you insist that women would be more interested in STEM if it was tied in with topics women are supposedly all interested in (we’re not) then start with hacking the things that keep us from enjoying (or cause us to hate) those topics.

Now on The Pastry Box: Can’t

This month’s post on The Pastry Box is about using the word “Can’t”. When we use can’t, we frequently mean “won’t” or “haven’t considered” or “don’t want to”. My argument is that we should try to reserve “can’t” for times that you actually are not able to do a thing — for example, when you can’t talk to a satellite any faster than the speed of light.

Grace Hopper illustrates what it means when you can’t do something, at 4:23 in this video. (The rest of the video is worth watching too.)

I hope the next time we say we can’t do a thing, we mean we can’t do a thing — and if we won’t or haven’t considered or do want to do it, we’ll say that instead.