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Sex Tech Space founder Alison Falk on her sextech zine for engineers and tackling taboos

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Although originally heralding from a developer background, when Alison Falk started getting clued up about sextech, she knew she’d finally found her calling. Alison began to share what she was learning about the world of sextech online, and the number of followers and friends who were keen to find out more about the subject led her to embark on a publishing project that is now gaining momentum.

Sex Tech Space is a bi-monthly publication about all things sextech. Each issue focuses on a particular area of the sector – the latest theme is sex toy engineering – with the aim to educate and introduce more people to the field.

SEXTECHGUIDE spoke to Alison to find out the decision to launch the online magazine and what she hopes it’ll bring to the sextech community.

How did you get into the sextech business?
I started out as an application developer for a health solutioning company. I felt really lost in technology and was not at all aware of sextech at the time. I’m not sure why I never thought it could exist as a field when we already have segments that are very niche – such as golftech. However, at that time, I was very passionate about the idea that when anyone owns their sexuality, it carries over to all other aspects of their life. You develop a certain confidence that you can only have after understanding your erotic power. So I used my platform to discuss this.

In turn, I received a lot of hate and people demonizing me because they didn’t want to understand or know me beyond what they saw. I don’t look like the stereotypical programmer or stereotypical ‘woman in tech’. I feel very comfortable openly discussing sex and I like that about myself, but not a lot of people get that we are allowed both – to be comfortable in our sexuality and still be respected.

One day on Instagram, I came across the Women of Sex Tech page and was so excited to learn about this category of technology. I sponged up as much as I could and started sharing what I learned with my online platform made up of other techies and engineers in the industry. I then realized that this was the path I would like my career to move towards. Even though sextech is growing quite fast, it’s difficult to find jobs actually building the technology because those are typically outsourced, contracted, or extremely specialized. So I decided if I couldn’t find an opportunity, I’d create one myself.

Alison Falk, creator of Sex Tech Space

What gave you the initial idea to launch Sex Tech Space?
STS was conceived on the foundation of several different gaps [in the market] I had observed personally and externally. As previously mentioned, I couldn’t find an opportunity in sextech, so I decided to make one. I also had this platform on Instagram where people were DM-ing every day with questions about sextech and I either didn’t have the knowledge capital or the time to answer them all right away.

So at that point I was thinking different things. How can I close these gaps? How help answer people’s questions around sextech? How can I make an impact on a massive scale that will be digestible and potentially introduce others to this industry that also may be their calling?

I was also keen to eliminate the developer bias I see from people creating technology that are shaming me when I discuss sextech, and wanted bring more awareness to sextech so that it’s not treated as such a taboo topic. Ultimately, I was wondering how I could use sextech to help people learn more about themselves.

I had so many questions spiralling in my head. The answer didn’t come overnight but over a few months. I think that’s where a lot of people get stuck. They find something they want to pursue and expect to become an expert in that thing immediately. In the words of author and business consultant Fabienne Fredrickson: “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.”

It first started out as a meet-up, then it changed to a local project night, then it morphed into all these other ideas until something felt right and in alignment with my mission. That’s how STS came to be the bi-monthly publication that it is now.

What research was involved when you were making the first issue?
Since I want to keep the articles easy to digest and fresh, I decided to give each issue a different theme. The first one is all about what sextech is and what it isn’t – because so many people have never even heard of it before I wanted to create an introductory issue. So I reached out to my audience and well known tech influencers to see what their first impression was when they heard the word ‘sextech’ and go from there. I aimed to highlight the pioneers of the industry who are paving the way for the rest of us as well as put a spotlight on the different segments of technology that exists on the sextech spectrum.

What can readers expect from the second issue?
The second issue is about sex toy engineering! So expect to learn about the lifecycle of creating a pleasure product.

Who did you speak to for the next issue?
I spoke with someone who is involved with the entire process of making a product of a well known brand – which I learned is very rare. I spoke with a woman on her journey of creating her product from scratch and her experience of working with overseas engineers and developers. She has no background in either sex or tech and randomly got the idea to create her product one day.

There are also articles on a company which uses the input of its community to develop new products, a trans-inclusive product, a couple’s product, and a crossover of sex toy technology and music production!

How important is innovation in sextech?
I think it’s just as, if not more, important as any other area of our life. Without innovation there is no progress and I think there is a lot of progress to be made in how our society views sex in all aspects.

Can technology improve our sex lives?
Absolutely 100% yes – for me. For others, maybe not. But it’s up to that person to make the decision. Personally I can say that introducing technology has allowed me to learn more about my body; what I like and what I don’t like. They would not be things I would be able to figure out on my own – but now I can! And now I am able to communicate these discoveries to others allowing that part of our relationship to be enhanced.

Where’s next for Sex Tech Space?
We have a job board launching very soon which is really exciting because I have people asking me constantly about how they can contribute with their tech skills and I’m happy to finally be able to provide those answers for them. We also have some local workshops in the pipeline in Pittsburgh. There’s also a lot going on behind the scenes that I can’t currently reveal but I am beyond excited for the future of this publication and this industry.

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