I found this amazing young woman on Twitter and I felt what she was doing was great! I would love to introduce you to Software developer and Tech Entrepreneur who is setting a great example of the influence women can have in the tech world.
What do you do?
I split my time between two primary roles. I am a Senior Software Developer for the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) and I am a Tech entrepreneur. With these two jobs, I get to balance the structure and expectations of working for a large organization like the USGS with the freedom and creativity of making something new as an entrepreneur.
As a Software Developer for the USGS, I recently helped the Mercury Research Lab (they collect and analyze samples for mercury levels) move their data from an older database system to a newer one. Now, I am re-writing the front-end of a web application which provides information about pesticide use limitations for the EPA’s Endangered Species Protection Program.
As an entrepreneur, I am investigating startup ideas. I am working on a mobile app to help exhibitors at Trade Shows and Expos to collect contact information of potential customers. I am also investigating a course to teach web developers how to develop mobile apps.
What is your typical week like at work?
Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday are dedicated to the USGS. I primarily design and code. There are also video conferences, emails, and other administrative tasks that must be performed. On a fun note, I work remotely so my dress code is pajamas and my commute is about 30 seconds. The rest of the work week and much of the weekend are spent on my own business ideas. Here, I have started networking, teaching myself about business principles (market sizing, pricing, growth, customer development, etc.). As you can see my typical work week has a lot of variety to it.
What is your educational background? What led you into your career field?
My dad, an engineering graduate who now works in Information Technology, was my role model. His inclinations passed on to me. In High School, I tried out a Computer Science class and liked it. I went on to earn my Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from University of Wisconsin – Madison and my Masters in the same field from University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. It was a lot of hard work and it was worth it.
What advice do you have for high school girls?
There are three points I would like to provide to high school girls.
1. Always try new things – society tends to give cues as to what a girl can or cannot do. However, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. If I hadn’t tried a Computer Science class in High School, I would have missed out. If I hadn’t decided to try to startup my own company, I wouldn’t know if I can or cannot.
2. Never stop learning – the world continues to change and more knowledge is added every day. What you learn need not be book-based, but the ability to learn and be flexible is vital to success.
3. Find a mentor you admire – there are many people out there who are willing to help. Find mentors and ask them for help, guidance, and lessons learned.
What advice do you have for parents who want to raise STEM inclined girls?
Be the best role models you can be for your daughters. If you want your daughter to excel at STEM subjects, never imply or state outright that you as a parent were bad at that subject. Further, ensure equality between chores. Men and women should clean and do dishes and men and women should pay the bills and fix the leaky faucet. If the child’s initial expectations of household gender roles are equal, that will transfer to professional gender roles also.
Why do you think there is a need for a site like STEM Girl Social Network so girls can connect with young women with similar interests and see mentors they can relate to in STEM fields?
I think there is need for STEM Girl Social Network because of the cultural and social queues given to girls that make it seem like they can’t excel in professions based on STEM. STEM Girl Social Network provides encouragement that we do not see in television, movies and media to females. This is a valuable tone to introduce to the overall social conversation surrounding women and STEM