There were quite a few female attendees at Stir Trek yesterday – it was quite impressive! We got to talk with the ladies of the Centerburg Trojan Robotics Club about women in tech, and here are some of the things I had to say.
Don’t let the bad rumors or the guys intimidate you.
Sometimes, you will run into guys who make it their goal to intimidate you. Do not give into them. They are few and far between in the industry, but they give the field a bad rep for women in general. I’ve been working in various aspects of technology – tech support, IT, and software development – and most of the guys that I’ve worked with wish that we had more women in our workforce. As women, we can offer a different perspective on problems and how to solve them. You should have a tough backbone in case you do run into one of those guys who tries to discourage you. But something you’ll find is that many guys will be welcoming and want to show you the ropes – if you run into those guys, learn to trust them and learn from them. Oh, and be warned… we’re a bunch of geeks in the field, so bad puns and bad humor are abound.
Do what you enjoy doing.
If you like working with robots or writing code or whatever it is that you like doing, stick with it and look into possible career opportunities related to it. Work doesn’t have to be a boring thing that you do for 40 hours a week just to put a roof over your head. Why waste life working a boring job when you can do what you like and have fun at the same time?
I don’t think I can stress this enough. These ladies are freshmen in high school – which means plenty of time for them to get involved in the community and get their names out there. For example, seeing that they’re currently geeking out with robotics, they may want to look into the Columbus Robotics Society and getting involved with them (attending meetings/events, join their mailing list, etc.). Another way to get involved is to join Twitter and look for others with similar interests that you can talk with, bounce ideas with, and network with.
The more you get involved with the community, the more people you interact with, the more recommendations you can get… which can lead to internship opportunities at both the high school and college levels and job opportunities in the future. You will also find that in networking with others, you will learn more from the people you meet and their experiences in the industry. You are never too young to get involved in the community, but if you get involved early, that gives you more time to get your name out there, which also means more time for you to meet people and take advantage of more opportunities in the industry.