What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I had an early inclination towards technology, since my dad is a software engineer. I knew it was a viable and rewarding career path. I started building websites and designing interfaces in Photoshop in high school. When I was applying for university in 2001, it was shortly after the dot-com bust. At that time, a lot of people were turned off by careers in high tech. I figured that even if I decided to pursue a career in something else, having a background in computer technology would always come in handy, because everyone uses computers to do their jobs. So I got a degree in computer engineering, which turned out to be a good decision.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I’m working on a project CelebJuicer.com right now, which provides bite-sized entertainment in the form of celebrity Twitter conversations. Even for people who don’t follow celebrities, the site has some very funny content that’s easy to miss otherwise. After focusing mainly on enterprise software for many years, this site has been a lot of fun for me to
design and build.
Someone I discovered recently is Sandy Lerner, cofounder of Cisco. She was profiled in the 2011 documentary Something Ventured. She is the only woman to appear in the film, which chronicles the history of the beginnings of venture capitalism in Silicon Valley from the 60’s through the 80’s. She relays the difficulties of being a technical woman in a leadership position in a tech company at the time, how she didn’t neatly fit into a box (prescribed female roles), and was ousted in a similar manner to Steve Jobs, and was fired by the same VC that fired Jobs. She went on to found and sell a cosmetics company, and is now an advocate for organic farming and other philanthropic efforts.
Why do you love working in STEM?
Being able to have an idea and then making it happen is very rewarding and empowering. There are so many opportunities for all kinds of learning. Often the impression is that software developers are holed up coding in a cubicle all day, but in reality there is a lot of collaboration and creativity involved in the process. I’d like to see women not just as consumers of technology but as creators. We need more of those.
Advice for future STEMinists?
I hear from women who started learning programming, but give up because they think it was too hard. I think anything worth doing is hard. You have to be persistent if you think it’s a worthwhile endeavor. It took me many years to think I was good at programming. Women tend to give themselves less credit than they deserve.
Amazon.com – it’s so convenient, especially since I don’t have a car anymore. I also interned there as a software development engineer, and had the opportunity to learn a lot about the disparate parts that combine to make the largest e-commerce company.