How did you end up in technology?
That’s a cornerstone question asked and answered daily in my world. I responded to this question in different ways for years. It took time to understand what got me here and what’s kept me in technology when so many other women have left due to burning out or lack of that mysterious work-life balance (that’s a conversation for another day).
You see, I was not your traditional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) student. I was not a “great” student at all by conventional methods. I was not accepted by the crowd that was considered nerds when I was growing up. Those kids intimidated me with the way their minds worked.
Do not get me wrong; I am a nerd; however, it took a ton of introspection and internal dialogue to identify and fall in love with my particular type of nerdiness. I was not able to locate it through traditional academic channels. The women in my age group didn’t have access to the STEM initiatives that exist today, so we must continue to drive support and evolution into a more standard curriculum with different learning modalities.
My generation grew up and matured with the technology so many use all day, every day. Most of us can still remember a time when there were limited screens in our houses. As teens, we anxiously awaited our older siblings to get off the phone so that we could get online. The squeal of the modem connecting to the outside world was exciting! We entertained ourselves with video games that allowed us to compete with other players around the world. As adults, many of us utilize tech heavily to automate our households, learn new tricks from social media, and navigate where the line of “too much” screen time lies for our children.
Loving technology came from the impact created by folks with a passion for STEM subjects. Without them, my entire childhood would not have existed. Being a part of the technology world was a family affair and never seemed strange for me to pursue as a woman; however, many ladies are not given that grace.
The cost for women taking on high-tech jobs before the user experiences adapted was often her family. Even though I knew it wasn’t right, a part of me still believed that to be the kind of mother and wife I wanted to be; I could not be a successful businesswoman in the tech field. I fought that belief and the guilt of leaving my children with caregivers every day. It was still the societal norm that women should maintain the household, teach and care for the children and always put their family ahead of their careers.
I am so grateful for my four daughters that the paradigm is changing rapidly! We have a responsibility to encourage all of our children to love their magnificent minds, experiment with technology, and embrace their nerdiness. Equality and availability of tech-driven programs in our schools are essential for both boys and girls to stand shoulder to shoulder and improve this world.
There is no room for bullies and old-school mindsets about what men or women are better at when it comes to technology. Physical differences are no match for creativity, codes, and problem-solving!
How to support careers in STEAM
If you’re looking for a group to support STEAM initiatives, here are a few of my favorites:
Who are your favorites to support?