2016-10-coolgirl-code-michelemadanksy-300Name: Michele Madansky
Age: 50
Location: Menlo Park, CA
Occupation: Market Research Consultant

When it comes to devouring data and ravaging research, Michele Madansky is at the forefront of her field. Not only does this marketing consultant study the details of advertising and metrics, she helped craft the Elephant in the Valley survey which exposed some of the less savory aspects of being a woman in tech.

Unsurprisingly, someone this talented seemed to come out of the womb with a knack for her niche. “I always loved math, and started programming in Basic and playing on my father’s mainframe computer when I was in middle school,” Michele recalls. “I always thought that I wanted to do something in STEM.  In my high school advanced chemistry class I was only one of two girls!”

As a result of tackling the one-two punch of an undergrad degree in applied math and economics and a PhD, Michele went on to apply her understanding of multivariate statistics and econometric modeling in legendary advertising agency BBDO’s Marketing Sciences department. Since then she has gone on to offer consulting work in a wide spectrum of spheres. “In one week I can be developing consumer insights on college students, new and expectant moms, business travelers and social media users,” she says.

Michele worked pro-bono on Elephant in the Valley after a former coworker at Yahoo! suggested she use her expertise with survey design and analysis on the project. The survey had crystallized after Trae Vassallo was subpoenaed to speak about her experiences during the Ellen Pao trial and this research became a collaborative project.  

“Although I did not have any personal blatant experiences with gender discrimination during my tenure in Silicon Valley I had seen many cases of unconscious and conscious bias, and was happy to help with this project on a pro bono basis,” Michele says. “Trae and I participated in a podcast with Kara Swisher from recode and were shocked and excited about how much interest was generated.”

Elephant in the Valley has sparked the passions of people beyond tech, and beyond gender. The illumination of the sorts of struggles women face in the tech world led to a new curiosity about the experiences of professional women beyond Silicon Valley.

“Based on the success of Elephant in the Valley, the 3% conference (http://www.3percentconf.com/) , which is focused on increasing the number of top women in creative positions in advertising asked me to help them with Elephant on Madison Avenue. I’m hopeful that all of this research about gender discrimination helps future generations of women in advertising and technology,” says Michele. (Elephant on Madison Avenue had its results unveiled by Michele during Advertising Week in New York at the end of last month.)

Between her two sons, both in high-school, and her love of tennis, Michele has a full plate beyond her consulting career. She has definitely moved beyond her formative years at her dad’s “big iron” computer. She reflects on how things have changed, and what this means to those young ladies transitioning to adulthood in the STEM field.

“When I started my career in advertising, most of the “quant geeks” were in the back room crunching numbers. I managed to do well because I had a great boss who supported me, but also because I was comfortable translating data into insights on behalf of clients. Now, there are a lot more opportunities for people with quantitative backgrounds, and they are often considered the rock stars of the agencies.”

For her marketing work and the role she plays in unmasking the gender gap in the professional world, we think Michele Madansky is a very Cool Girl!

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