How Randi Zuckerberg is getting more girls interested in STEM

Randi Zuckerberg is on a new episode of "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis"

ByABC News
August 4, 2017, 4:55 PM
Businesswoman Randi Zuckerberg visits SiriusXM Studios, April 13, 2017, in New York City.
Businesswoman Randi Zuckerberg visits SiriusXM Studios, April 13, 2017, in New York City.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

— -- What happens when you mix passion with data? If you're Randi Zuckerberg, it can get "dot complicated."

Zuckerberg was in the middle of writing her book “Dot Complicated” when she found a startling statistic: in the third-grade, girls tend to turn away from technology.

“Like any entrepreneur, you find a problem and then you double down there. And so that’s when I wrote my book 'Dot' about a very tech-savvy eight-year-old girl and it’s now a television show,” Zuckerberg told ABC News Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of ABC Radio’s “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis”..

“I go into things with a mixture of passion and data,” Zuckerberg added.

Zuckerberg is the daughter of two doctors, but ended up on a completely different path. Growing up, she recalls dreaming of becoming a performer, traveling from one audition to the next. Although she was accepted to Harvard, she wasn’t accepted into their music program and instead majored in psychology.

Despite her disappointment, she said she always took a piece of her mother’s advice to heart: "Sometimes things that seem like failures in the moment are the biggest gift that you’ve been given.”

“I think that really set me up for a lot of the entrepreneurial success I had later on because when I became an entrepreneur and started hearing no a lot, I was like oh, it’s only no. There’s always another audition. There’s always another pitch,” Zuckerberg adds.

As Zuckerberg was navigating her way through the world of advertising after college, she remembers getting a call (or rather an AOL instant message, she said) from her brother, Mark.

Yes, that Mark Zuckerberg -- who was “starting this thing called the Facebook,” and asked her to join their digital marketing department.

Trading New York City for Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg remembers entering the world of technology -- an industry without limitations, where every step was something that hadn’t been done before, like Facebook Live.

“To be and have been involved in groundbreaking things like that that are now used by billions of people is incredible,” Zuckerberg told Jarvis.

But she also saw another side to it -- even amidst the incredible innovation, she was often the only woman in the room.

“I felt that it was such a glaring problem with the lack of women and the lack of diversity. I felt like I needed to be a part of the solution, not just continue to be a part of the problem,” Zuckerberg said.

She said that having an androgynous name helped her get invited to meetings early on.

“I swear that half the meetings I got in Silicon Valley were because people thought Randi was a guy. And then I would show up at a meeting and people would look visibly shocked when a young woman would enter the room,” she said.

After seven years at Facebook, Zuckerberg founded her own company, Zuckerberg Media, which places girls and women in tech at the forefront of pop culture.

Zuckerberg firmly believes that what young people see on TV or read in books can influence what they believe about their own capabilities.

“I think sometimes in life when you do have a last name that people listen to, it gives you even more responsibility to stand up for people who don’t have a voice," she explained.

Ever since, Zuckerberg has used her name and her journey to write a children’s novel, produce a TV show, and star in the Tony Award-nominated musical "Rock of Ages" on Broadway.

Her superhero ingredient to success: passion.

“I think that there’s a big disconnect when you ask people, 'What do you do for a living? and 'What do you love?' I think that I’ve been able to create a life for myself where the answer to those two questions is the same.”

Hear Randi Zuckerberg’s full interview on ABC Radio’s top business podcast, “No Limits With Rebecca Jarvis” available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify and your ABC News app.