One of the biggest reasons my working life has been dedicated to technology is because of the impact it has on society. Quite simply, technology solves problems.
Over the years, the problems technology can solve have become bigger, and the solutions more sophisticated. As time has passed, I’ve gone from loving technology because of the problems it solves to loving tech because of the personal impact it has, and the lives it can save.
When I go to an industry event or gathering of my peers, it’s not uncommon for someone to proclaim, “there’s never been a better time to be in tech.”
And they’re right. Every year is the best time to be in tech.
Now, more than ever before, we have resources that let us connect with people in ways we’d never imagined and with people we would’ve never met. The cloud has provided resources to innovate, share, and connect on a massive scale.
But the fact is, with increasing power comes increasingly difficult challenges to solve. Today, technology is helping researchers understand the reasons for SIDS, fight childhood diabetes, manage complex supply chains, and even stay connected with loved ones. We all touch some aspect of technology every day, likely without giving it a second thought.
As we think about tackling modern day challenges, diversity in our workforce becomes more and more important. I’ve written about this topic before, but it bears repeating that the best path to innovation is through diversity. Different backgrounds, ways of thinking, and cultural perspectives lead to new ideas. And, new ideas are what solve new problems.
Recently, I spoke at the annual gala for a non-profit called Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Evolution (IGNITE). As I looked out at the girls and women in the audience, I was reminded of my own career journey as a woman in technology. News cycles have been increasingly attentive of late, and I think it’s important to note that we are making progress to help get more women in STEM careers.
When I was in an undergrad engineering program of 200, I was the only female in the program. I understand now why I didn’t care for the program and changed majors—I was an anomaly in a homogenous group of students of roughly the same background, socioeconomic status, and well, gender. Similarly, I spent a lot of my early career as the only woman amongst a sea of men.
We’ve come a long way since then.
Already this year, IGNITE has served nearly 3,000 students, in 70 different schools, hosting 42 field trips and 33 panels. And since inception, IGNITE has impacted nearly 40,000 girls and supports 70 chapters worldwide. Data shows us that for the 2016-17 school year, 50% of IGNITE girls were more likely to participate in STEM classes immediately, 99% were inspired to want to learn more about STEM careers, and 90% were more likely to consider a STEM degree.
Those are impressive numbers, and yet, we still have ground to cover. It’s critical that we support diversity in our STEM education. For those girls and women who are continuing to blaze a trail in technology, I thank you. Your example is inspirational, and I hope you bring more with you.
If you know a young woman interested in technology, I encourage you to check out the resources available through IGNITE. If you’re a woman in technology and want to give back, consider volunteering your time to support girls in STEM. Our future depends on it!
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