In 2015, the United Nations declared February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The goal was to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. According to UNESCO data, only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female student enrollment in information and communications technology in particular is very low at only three percent!
I cannot emphasize enough the benefit to our company, culture and customers to have diverse employee-owners including many amazing women! I was curious what inspired some of them to study science – and go against the odds. It was fun to hear how pizza, passion and puzzles…of all things…played a role in where they are today. Here are their stories:
Sarah Rodriguez, Senior Application Developer
During my senior year of high school there was free pizza being offered if you attended a presentation about the robotics team. I ended up joining the FIRST Robotics team and learned about coding and how to build robots. A few years later, I returned as a mentor for my alma mater team and have been mentoring ever since. Yes, a slice of pizza led me to attain a degree in computer science and put me on this career path!
Alice Hoff, Senior Business Analyst
I actually graduated with a degree in Economics, got an office administration job and worked for 10 years. I ended up being the de facto computer repair person and realized I had both a natural proficiency for working with computers and I enjoyed it! After much soul searching, I quit my job, went back to school and earned a degree in Computer Engineering. I was in my 30s and it wasn’t easy to go back to being a student, but you’ve got to follow your passion!
Celia Battung, Senior Developer
I earned my degree in computer science when computers were fairly new. In fact my family didn’t really understand why I was studying computers and not healthcare. I come from a family of nurses and doctors. But I’ve always just done what I want to do. My high school offered a computer programming class and I took it and I was hooked. I love puzzles and programming is like solving a puzzle, it’s so much fun. I chose the computer science career path many years ago and I still love what I do!
These women found their way to science and to TechFlow despite the long-standing gender stereotypes that end up steering many girls and women away from STEM. I am so proud of the work that these TechFlow employee-owners are doing for our customers and our nation. I hope they can, by example, give the next generation of women a glimpse into what a career in STEM might look like…and inspire them to study science. We all stand to benefit from solutions designed with a diverse and fully-represented team of minds!