The (Tech) Future is Female: Céline Christory

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For a girl who just turned 18, Céline Christory is incredibly focused. When she imagines her future, she’s heading up her own startup company. “I first got the bug for entrepreneurship very young, but I didn’t know what it was then, to be an entrepreneur,” says Christory. “I always loved creating and inventing things for the common good, or that would aid social progress.”

With her latest idea, a bracelet that measures blood alcohol content (BAC), the ambitious young woman is on the right track for her dream. At the Forum (Women in Innovation) this month, Christory will present her project, and discuss what innovation means to her. “It’s important to talk about my passion, and to encourage younger people,” explains the current high school senior, who will have to overcome her shyness to speak to a packed room.

The BAC bracelet was developed over the course several months with the help of two of Christory’s friends from the Lycée français de New York, Philippe Didisheim and Andres Zavrosa. “The idea is to detect high levels of alcohol in the bloodstream. If the level is too high, the bracelet sends a message to the person’s car via bluetooth not to start the car,” explains the entrepreneuse. “The wearer will also have access to their BAC level throughout the evening.” As for when the inspiration sparked, “The idea came to us after seeing a car drive onto the sidewalk in the middle of Manhattan—the driver was drunk,” said Christory. “It was very dangerous, and it was then that we all decided that drunk drivers needed to be prevented from getting behind the wheel.” Another use: to monitor the blood for signs of date rape drugs. The three students hope to be able to present a prototype by the end of the summer.

Though a senior in high school, Christory is no stranger to sexist comments: “In my previous team, one of the guys told me I couldn’t be CEO because I was a girl. I couldn’t believe it—we were only sophomores!”

@WinforumNY "Need to think not just about a solution but how to be part of a solution ! #womeninSTEM #WIN17 @ChristoryCeline"
“Need to think not just about a solution but how to be part of a solution ! #womeninSTEM #WIN17 @ChristoryCeline”

Encountering such prejudice from a peer opened Christory’s eyes to an uncomfortable reality: she was the only girl in her high school coding class. Her girlfriends on science tracks were planning to study business, law, or medicine after the Bac (the final exam for French students graduating high school). “That’s the reason I wanted to speak to other [women], to tell them that their ideas are valid and they can do anything, and that they just need to dive in.”

According to Christory, born in New York to French expat parents, everything is decided for girls at a very young age. She vividly remembers when she was in 10th grade, taking coding classes near a group of 5th graders: “There were equal numbers of boys and girls, and the girls loved it!” Then, at the start of middle school, all the girls all abandoned coding, according to Christory, because of criticism and sexist comments from friends and parents. The young woman counts herself lucky: “I have a very open-minded family, who encouraged me enormously.”

On stage at forum, surrounded by high-level businesswomen, Christory will no doubt feel fulfilled. “I am extremely happy and proud to have been asked to participate. If I’m able to help even one girl or woman to pursue her dream, I will have achieved my goal.”

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