Building a community of women who work in technology – hosted by Betsy Speare, Jennifer Marsman & Helene Love Snell

Archive for March, 2012

DeVry HerWorld: Barbie’s been introduced to careers in STEM! Next stop? High school juniors and seniors in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Colton

I’m tickled to welcome Alice back this week to talk about encouraging women to join the technology boom! She reminds us of the importance to encourage girls in their pursuit of STEM related interests… AND she’ll be speaking over the next month to hundreds of high school girls at the DeVry HerWorld events. Welcome back Alice and thanks for the inspiration! Since she reminded me I took my 5 year old with me today to get my taxes done – explaining that our CPA was getting PAID for doing MATH. She really dug that – Math is her favorite subject!

Betsy Speare, Principal Program Manager Lead, Microsoft Windows Server, Happy Family member, new Green Lake, Seattle Resident, 15 years at Microsoft, EWU CIS grad and chicken farmer (total 3 now – getting eggs)!


Here’s a bit about our guest blogger this week, Alice Pang:

Alice grew up in Louisiana and came out to sunny California after high school to attend Stanford University, where she received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering/Software. She then moved across the bay to get her M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research/Management of Technology through the Haas School of Business and College of Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. While at Stanford and Berkeley, she was heavily involved in various dance groups and enjoyed organizing networking, mentoring, and community outreach events for the Society of Women Engineers.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, discovering new places to eat, rock climbing, learning aerial silk tricks, riding motorcycles, and sharing Louisiana and Chinese culture with her friends. As a Microsoft Developer Evangelist, she focuses on WebMatrix. You can follow her on Twitter @alicerp and her MSDN blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/alicerp.”

DeVry HerWorld: Barbie’s been introduced to careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)! Next stop? High school juniors and seniors in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Colton


Christmas 2010 present from a friend. What does it say about me when I quickly noticed that her monitor says “Barbie” in binary-Ascii?

When I was in middle school, I remember being told by a boy that I couldn’t possibly be good enough at math to even place in the top 10 at a district competition, because he figured the winner would be male.  A month later I placed first against the top Calculus students in the state of Louisiana.

The boy wasn’t the only one to suggest that perhaps men have an innate ability in math and science—an unfortunate statement, since I have seen proof of phenomenal, bright women in K-12 and collegiate education and in my professional career.  I’ve often sat in my engineering classes and noticed that I am only one of two females in a class of 50+, and I wonder why there are so few women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.  I have spoken with women who point out that they were not exposed to the idea of pursuing a STEM career early on or found their passions in other disciplines; it is not by any means due to an innate difference in ability between men and women. Women who choose to study in a STEM field can make an impact on the community and achieve ambitious goals in technology. It is imperative to recognize that women could really use the support to be leaders in our chosen pursuits.

In order to take a step in the right direction, we should all be involved in promoting women in STEM fields on three career levels: K-12, college, and professional. Introducing math and science in a fun and interactive way to primary and secondary school students exposes them to the possibilities in technology. Supporting collegiate and professional women is important for fostering a positive environment for us to excel in male-dominated fields.  Mentoring relationships, public awareness events, and outreach opportunities are a few ways to encourage career growth for women in technology.

In the next few weeks, I’m excited to be speaking to hundreds of high school junior and senior girls at DeVry HerWorld events.  In addition to sharing my personal experience, I plan to convince them of how exciting technology can be and the variety of STEM roles.  Hopefully, they will be inspired by and understand the significance of Barbie’s transition from, “Math class is hard,” to Computer Engineer.

March 22: Las Vegas, NV
March 28: Los Angeles, CA
April 12: Colton, CA

From http://www.high-school.devry.edu/students/get-ready/her-world-workshop.jsp:

HerWorld is an interactive workshop given by DeVry University to high school juniors and seniors across the country each year during National HerWorld Month. It introduces these young women to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Through a series of games, hands-on projects and live discussions with successful women from top companies in the local community, HerWorld inspires young women to use their talents and interests to succeed, and how to best prepare for college in order to achieve their aspirations.

Perspective from the start up community: how women can win there too…

Wondering what happened to the Women in Tech the last few weeks? Well we’ve been BUSY! Helene and I are both full throttle in the Windows Server team which just released Windows Server 8 Beta! My goodness – it feels like shipping – fun!! There was also a really great write up a few weeks back in the Microsoft News Center with a great picture of me in my PJs with my daughter & nieces… also featuring co-workers Jeffrey Snover and (my boss) Erin Chapple – check it out! Last, I am still looking for GUEST BLOGGERS – male or female – got a topic? Related to tech? Written by a woman? Or about women? That counts. Send me your post.  Love getting the broader perspectives…

This week’s post is introduced by one of the blogs co-founders, Helene, shown below with her mini-me! This is a great post. It lines up nicely with work being done to support women in tech in the bay area by an organization called Women 2.0. It’s cool stuff and reminds me of the book the WLC co-founders read in 2003 called “She Wins, You Win.” It really set the tone for establishing our community and has continued to influence us in supporting each other in our interests and goals. Back to the blog – this is also great for people trying to make corporate experiences for women better – good thoughts on how we may stereotype women in start-ups that apply to corporate as well.


This week we welcome a new guest blogger, and former colleague of mine, Kristal Bergfield. Kristal’s blog Corporate Refugee, discusses her new adventures in the Start up Tech Industry in New York, and her break away from a large corporation (American Express). In her own words, Kristal is a marketer, connector, and deal maker. Today’s post addresses some of the preconceived challenges that moms face at start-ups… or do they?
Read for yourself and let me know what you think….

Helene


I’m Kristal Bergfield. I’m a marketer. connector, and deal maker. I love entrepreneurs, start ups, tech, media & the Oregon Ducks. I run the NYC Tech BD Breakfast Series. I also cook more than most people and possess an abnormally vast knowledge of pop culture trivia.


Moms & Start-ups: Yes We Can!

I’ve been reading a lot of things lately about women – specifically mothers – in start ups and how they shouldn’t do start ups because they want “flexibility”(whatever that is), and can’t possibly work “start up hours” (whatever those are). From Penelope Trunk’s intentionally provocative TechCrunch article telling women NOT to do start ups, to the sexist reaction to Alison Lindland‘s request to the NYTM mailing list to meet other expectant moms at NY start ups, the message to moms seems to be that they can’t possibly be a good parent and an A player at a start up.

So, um, folks: get over yourselves. Because guess what? I (and other moms see: Beth Ferreira, Jane Kim, Emily Hickey, Naama Bloom, Maxine Friedman and many more) are doing it and, frankly, it’s not that hard. I think this is because moms who choose to work at start ups have self selected into something they know they can handle. We don’t want flexibility. We don’t want to work part time. We aren’t just there to make a buck. We’re there for the same reason everyone else is: because we want to build something that matters.

I’ve been a mom for almost six years now. Most of that time, I worked at American Express, a huge company that’s known for it’s family friendly policies. Folks in the start up world seem to think – for the most part – that working there entailed working 9-5 Monday through Friday with unlimited resources, a cushy office and a fat paycheck. And, for moms, we got “flexibility”. Um, no, no, no, no, and hellz to the eff no. Amex has many fine qualities, but it ain’t all wine and roses and none of those things were my reality. For me, working at start ups has been EASIER than working at a big company.

Whether it’s a big company or the scrappiest of start-ups, people choose the life and lifestyle they want. So, if someone wants to work flexible hours or work part time, be up front about it and find the appropriate opportunity (most likely not at a start-up). If you want to work at a start up, as the great philosopher Tim Gunn would say, “make it work”.

So yes, moms can work at start-ups. No, we can’t play fooz ball or go out to lunch as often because we need to get more done during “normal business hours”. Yes, we have to leave at 5:30 a few times a week to relieve the nanny by 6. If we don’t, child protective services will. And frankly, when we arrive at the office at 8:30am after getting two kids and ourselves out of the house, we’re turning on the lights at work. No, we’re not always at work until 10pm (but if needed, we will be), we’re at home on our laptops after we’ve put the kids to bed doing what needs to be done. And yes, we can go to evening events and hell yes we can travel because we jump at the chance to spend a night in a hotel room blissfully alone. Hell, I recently attended a hackathon on a Sunday after baking an apple pie from scratch. How many of you have done that?

If a mom wants to work at your start up, assume she’s been smart enough to do her due diligence and knows that it can be a wild ride and has set up her life accordingly. And if she’s the best candidate, hire her.

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