10 Questions with Alison Falk
Founder, Sex Tech Space & Women in Technology Pittsburgh
Alison Falk is the founder of Sex Tech Space, a bi-monthly publication aimed at technologists and engineers that creates dialogue on the intersection of technology and sexuality. As a front-end software engineer with experience in both startup and corporate environments, she has observed how the sextech segment of the tech industry is often swept under the rug at conferences and meetups. Thus, the goal of Sex Tech Space is to bring awareness to sextech and highlight the importance of progress and innovation in this area. As a byproduct, she hopes it will eliminate developer bias in the adult industry and open new avenues of credible career paths for individuals with interest in the sector.
Outside of Sex Tech Space, Alison is an advocate for women in STEM through her platform Women in Technology Pittsburgh (WIT PGH), which focuses on spotlighting women in the Pittsburgh tech scene. WIT PGH showcases the large spectrum of technology, including the many different segments in which individuals can contribute, from niche creative technology like VJs to developers and tech CEOs. Research shows that women shy away from speaking up about their accomplishments, give away credit for the work they’ve done and criticizing their skills before stating what they do well. Thus, WIT PGH is a community platform to openly celebrate women’s contributions to STEM and inspire those who have a desire to enter the field through the spotlights, workshops, panels, and more.
1. When did you decide you wanted to be in tech?
Up until a certain point, I was convinced that being in tech meant that you were a smart white guy in a hoodie, with 17 monitors in a dark basement writing numbers and symbols, and that I wasn’t intelligent enough to be that person. When I couldn’t find a job, I decided to enhance my resume for marketing positions by learning HTML and CSS through a Udemy course. I wasn’t an avid Instagram user at the time, but something inside me made me search the hashtags #womenwhocode and #womenintech and I saw people who looked like me transitioning from the most random jobs into tech roles. I felt a fire under my ass and knew deep down that if they could do this, then so could I. I used the last of my savings and borrowed some money to enroll in an online bootcamp, got a job as a front-end engineer, and the rest is history.
2. Tell me about one person in your life you’ve looked up to.
I really looked up to my father because he was always so unbothered by anything that other people were saying or doing. He always gave whatever he could whenever it was needed, even if it didn’t fit our budget. Most importantly, he always made time for his passion, no matter the circumstances and even if it didn’t pay the bills. Bottom line, he prioritized people and his passion over clout and money and that is something I always reflect on when I feel my ego start to creep in.
3. Where’s your hometown?
4. Tell me a story about a time you faced a struggle.
My father recently passed away unexpectedly in my arms and it is something that’s always lingering. I struggle with PTSD from those last moments; but I do my best to transform that energy into fuel for the life that I want to create for my mom and myself.
5. Tell me about something you’re immensely proud of.
I was recently featured in WIRED for using the harassment that I’ve faced online to create something of impact. Just a few years ago, I was broke, depressed, and anxious. I was on several unnecessary medications due to misdiagnoses and eating ramen with only a mattress in my apartment. To see how far I’ve come puts a huge lump in my throat — in a good way.
6. What’s something that’s been on your mind a lot lately?
I need to stop doing free labor and acting extra happy in emails. I need to start prioritizing my energy.
7. Favorite food?
Bean sprout and king oyster mushroom stir fry.
8. Favorite book?
Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe.
9. If you could try another job for a day, what would it be?
Music Video Director.
10. If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Find an exercise you like and commit to it. Don’t eat chicken nuggets for every meal. Spend more time in the sun. Everything will happen at the right time — no need to rush.