Carina Axelbrooke, Software Developer

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J: Who is Carina Axelbrooke?

C: “I’m a software developer, I work at Disney, and I am super all about being a feminist and being for women’s rights. That has kinda led me down this path. I am also incredibly into fashion and beauty. And a lot of times, I feel like at work, women are expected or they feel pressured and they pressure themselves to conform to a very…the tech industry is pretty male dominated and you know and you feel the need to conform…..and I try to promote being feminine and caring about fashion and beauty and that it’s okay to care about those things even though you’re a smart lady who works in tech.”

J: How’d you get your start?

C: “Originally I started in fashion and…, realized there were a lot of unsavory people in the fashion industry and decided I’d go to a four-year college instead. Got into business school and went the information systems route and that’s where I got exposed to coding and databases, and found out I really enjoyed it. The root of why I loved fashion was trying and being able to create things, but you know with code you also get to create so the parallels run pretty deep for me in that way. So, after I graduated college, I found a program through my last company, a shipping logistics firm–it’s business to business so most people have never heard of it, it’s kinda unsexy. They basically paid me to be a computer science student, and I got a certificate through the University of Washington.

Now, the certificate program we went through was for Java and I HATE Java–which I quickly realized. Luckily nobody at my old company wanted to do any of the front end work, so I got to do it which is really awesome. And so that’s basically where I learned all the stuff that we’re using here: javascript, angular, jasmine, gulp, etc.”


J: How do you bring femininity to tech on the day-to-day?

C: “I dress in dresses or I wear makeup, I definitely am extremely feminine. I don’t shy away from exclaiming to the world that – I am a woman. I’m not doing this job trying to conform. I’m doing this job as a woman. So I think that by doing things that are related to or equated to being feminine — I try to do those on a daily basis.”

J: Do you have a daily routine?

C: “It’s probably the same – get up, do my makeup. I usually take my showers at night and see what my hair’s doing in the morning – so kinda luck in the draw some days, we’ll just put it that way. And then I probably go through a few outfits before I get to work. Like I mentioned before, I’m super into animal rights so I don’t use any products that are tested on animals. Most of my products are Aveda. And that routine is – I have super super mega dry skin so I use the thickest, thickest like butter moisturizer, and just kinda lather it on as thick as it’ll go. And I have my tinted moisturizer which has some sunscreen in it as well. Which is super useful cause I get mega freckly in the summer.


I don’t remember the name of the brand, but I use this clear, it looks like an eye lash wand but I use it on my eyebrows. And then I use some eyeshadow basically on my brows to fill them in and that’s my general routine. I also use elta sunscreen, I think it’s like 46 spf. Which is an oddly specific number — was recommended to me by my dermatologists.”


J: Do you do anything special to stay Healthy?

C: “Yes. I’m Vegan. That obviously means I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, gelatin, seafood. So I think in general that keeps me pretty healthy because it limits what you can eat quite a bit. So I think being vegan keeps me pretty honest, I mean for sure I can still eat pizza and cookies, so don’t get me wrong there’s definitely days I still do that. But also being super conscious about my vitamin intakes, so I take supplements just to be sure.

J: Excited for the New trend of bioengineered vegan alternatives?

C: “Yes, I’m excited for the eggs, I would say of anything I miss the most it’d be the eggs. Have you heard of Soylent? If I’m super mega busy, I’ll drink some of that – it’s like that oatmeal stuff they eat in the matrix. Other than that, I think exercise keeps everyone sane, and obviously healthy, so I also do yoga and rock climbing.”

J: What got you into fashion?

C: “It’s definitely been for a long time. I think its kinda one of those things you can’t really explain why you love it, you just do. That’s kind of always been my love for fashion. It’s just kinda always been there. In high school, I remember being super excited about fashion, and always sketching in my sketchbook and learning how to sew so I could make my own clothes. Stuff like that. That always stands out as a really awesome memory for me.”


J: Any Sage Advice to those just starting out?

C: “Don’t believe the bullshit! Can I say that? — ok, cool. I feel like, it’s easier to believe the negative things a lot of time. And as women it can be harder to internalize all the really awesome things about ourselves. Aggghhh!! –There’s soo much I wish for the future of women. I want women to just really be, confident in their abilities or confident that they will learn it. Just block out naysayers. Lots of time, I think it is society at a subconscious level and it get’s into our psyche and it turns into our own voice. And I just wish very much for the future of women that we can break that cycle, and that women have the opportunity to get past that and just be like “No! I’m super awesome I can do this. Even if I suck at it now, doesn’t mean I’m gonna suck at it in the future. I’m capable of doing this.”

I think the problem is a lot of people see the gold medal athlete competing and you don’t see the day after day after day of their – them practicing in the gym, of them failing. So its easy to just say “Oh, well they’re gifted. oh they’re talent, oh it’s natural for them.” and I think it’s good for people to keep in mind that you do have to fail before you can be super awesome at something.”


J: What’s in the future for you?

C: “In the immediate future – I’m moving to Japan. It’s super exciting. I’ve lived in Seattle my entire life.  I don’t really know [if I’m going to start a company or join one] I’m kinda just seeing which way the wind blows.  And I will be very curious to see what kind of work environment they have, especially being a woman in tech. I suspect that the ratio is even lower than here. They do not have the kindest view on – or even laws for women working. It’ll be interesting.

It’s always been a dream. Just like fashion, it’s a thing I can’t really describe. Well, let me try – I guess to me, I’m half asian half white. And my asian part is a quarter Japanese, a quarter Korean. And I’m, you know, 5ft tall, I’m a size double zero petite, I’m at the very edge of the market.  I was born here, in the United States and to feel like you don’t really belong, like nothing is made for you — It feels very alienating. I didn’t know this until I went on my first trip there and found people do actually care about me in Japan, cause I kinda look like them and they are about the same body shape, it’s a really nice feeling. There’s this huge movement about not seeing a lot of diversity in films, and it’s kinda like that, you don’t see a lot of people representing you so seeing a lot of people over there in film, who kinda look like you is kinda comforting.”

J: Are you excited about anything new in tech?

C: “I’m really excited about machine learning! My husband is in machine learning, and I get a lot of time to talk about it and it blows my mind. what we will be able to achieve with it – in the short term, so soon. A lot of people say “Isn’t it going to get rid of your job” and I hear a lot of that and I don’t think so. I think it’ll make a lot of things efficient, but then it’ll allow us to focus on even more important things.”


J: Looking forward to any new Fashion trends?

C: “I’m excited about Japanese fashion, it’s nice to finally enter a market where I can find stuff. But also I’m really excited about –they’re super into american fashion — in Japan. So since I’m “mixed” it’ll be really fun to mix Japanese and american clothing. I’m excited to see where that goes.”

You can follow Carina’s journey on Instagram @dressedupdev or at her blog

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