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March 29, 2019

Information Technology

A byte of advice for women in tech.

By Taite Pryor, WGU Washington

Grace Hopper had a long and influential career as both a member of the United States military and a tech pioneer. Though her career started during a time when women’s participation in the workplace or armed forces was not widely accepted, she rose to the rank of Rear Admiral and lead the team that created the first computer language compiler. Grace liked to say that “the most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We've always done it this way.’” She was a strong proponent of progress and pushing the boundaries of tech design.

Her legacy continues today with several named tributes, including the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, organized by AnitaB.org.

Grace Hopper Grace Hopper, an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral.

Recently WGU Washington joined the local chapter of this event at the Hopperx1 Conference in Seattle. Hopperx1 showcases the thought leadership of the Seattle area female tech talent with the goal of growing community, strengthening collective, diverse voices, fostering inclusion, and inspiring action.

Grace said “the most important thing I've accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, 'Do you think we can do this?' I say, 'Try it.' And I back 'em up. They need that.”

With those words in mind, our team asked Hopperx1 attendees to pass on advice to future woman technologists. Read their words of encouragement below.

Have faith in yourself.

You are always going to have moments of self doubt. What sets us apart is learning to overcome “imposter syndrome” and get to where you want to be in life.

-Divya Srinivasan
Microsoft, UX Designer

 

It is normal to change careers throughout your life. It will cause feelings of identity crisis. Know that you are not alone. I went from archaeology to event planning to creative game producer. Document your horizontal skills and passions you learn throughout life and all jobs.

-Meris Mullaley
Wizards of the Coast, Creative Producer
@FabricAlchemist

 

When you are hired, the company already knows your worth and has faith in your abilities. You belong! Never doubt your worth.

-Monica Kuo
Microsoft, Software Engineer

 

Never let someone tell you what you can and can’t do. They have no idea what you are capable of.

-Kristen Cunningham
Whitworth University Student

 

Walk into the room carrying yourself like you deserve to be there - because you do.

-Saralyn Santos
UW Pipeline Project, Equity in STEM Coordinator

 

Don’t be too hard on yourself about being ready for that job or promotion. At a certain point in my career, during a one on one, I was asked “Are you ready for the next step?” My very honest answer was “No, I’m here to learn how to get there.” Later, I asked my male colleague how he would’ve answered a question like this. His response was “I was ready yesterday.” It stuck with me that while we were both at the same place in our career, we were judging ourselves very differently. Women tend to underplay what they know, where they stand. This makes it harder to compete against men. Be realistic, but don’t downplay your achievements!

-Kavita Jaswal
T-Mobile, Systems, Architecture Manager
@KavitaJaswa1

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. There are people who feel the same way you do.

-Sharon Baby
Microsoft, Software Engineer

 

Be brave, innovative, and proud of what you have and who you are.

-Yijin Lee
Northeastern Student

 

Be patient and do not be quiet!

-Tefyana Sych
Microsoft, Program Manager

 

This is a new age that gives us the opportunity to do so much. Never be scared, you can do anything. Believe in yourself and always speak up.

-Ivneer Gill
City U Seattle Student

Enjoy the creative opportunities.

It’s fun and challenging and there are so many different ways to approach a problem. We need you to help so keep at it!

-Christine Risinger
Wizards of the Coast, Principal Creative, Research

 

Side projects are a great way to build technical skills. Network and share your experiences!

-Shirley Ng
Microsoft, Program Manager

 

By going into tech you enable yourself to continue learning and keep yourself able to explore totally different fields. Every field needs tech expertise. If you don’t want to limit yourself then choose tech!

-Sarah Burns
Branch, Senior Software Engineer

Shape your own experience.

If you don’t go for it you won’t get it! Ask questions and don’t apologize, you need to learn.

-Candice Smith
Axon, Office Manager

 

Do not get discouraged. Even if you’re the only woman in your CS class. You can do it! There are amazing companies that will be hospitable.

-Jullyana Mattos Vycas
Microsoft, Software Engineer

 

Don’t be scared to raise your hand and speak up!

-Maryam Jaddoo
Wizards of the Coast, Localization Manager

 

Better done, than perfect.

-Liz Irish
SAP Concur, Portfolio Product Manager

 

You have a lot of power in the interviewing process! You are choosing a company as much as they are choosing you. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

-Beryl Egerter
Zillow Group, Software Engineer

 

Don’t be afraid to start a tech career even if you’re late. I started learning how to code at 26 and two years I’m a software engineer at Amazon.

-Hoa Vu
Amazon, Software Engineer

 

Somethings that you will be really good at might come slowly. Don’t assume you’ll be “bad” at something just because it doesn’t come naturally.

-Shaya Lyon
Live Music Project, Director
@pickleshy

Take up the baton.

If you have a competitive mindset, keep it. Every little “win” counts and it becomes very rewarding over time. Know there is a group of women like us to give support, to keep ourselves going, and feel more confident with each encouragement.

-Mershelle Rivera
Weyerhaeuser, IT Intern
@himynameismoose

 

Find a network of other women in tech and stay in touch.

-Reagan Middlebrook
Snapchat, Software Engineer

 

Follow your dream and instincts. Have passion in what you create.

-Sudarshana Sriram
Byte Dawn, Startup Founder

 

Technology works best without barriers. Let’s keep on working to make this possible for us!

-Chelsea Galvez
University of Washington Grad
@chelsetheuser

 

Do you have a message for future women technologists? Share your advice and you could win a Nintendo Switch! Learn more.

Ready to start or advance your career in tech? Apply now for our Women in Tech Scholarship.

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