Liz Bander is a Program Manager in the Skype group at Microsoft, helping people from around the world communicate and connect with each other, and on Microsoft Small Basic, to encourage people of all ages to learn how to code. She has a BA in English Language and Literature from NC State and an MBA from the University of Scranton. Liz believes that you can change the world with the magic of technology and volunteers with IGNITE to help every girl find that spark of curiosity and the confidence to try on a STEM career. She also volunteers with Girls Who Code, Microsoft DigiGirlz, teaches coding workshops in schools and mentors students interested in tech careers. Liz is also the Technology Chair on the board of directors for the League of Women Voters Seattle-King County and committee chair for a study on internet privacy. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
WHY YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH IGNITE?
I remember being the only girl in some of my STEM classes, and while I was supported by some great teachers, women who were role models in STEM careers were intermittent, and not always accessible to me as a younger student. I also grew up in a very privileged school system, which meant that I had access to a lot of technology classes. I got involved with IGNITE to make sure that women in tech are available to help girls in middle and high school navigate their career planning. I also got involved to make sure that girls from all backgrounds had a chance to learn to code and think about all the possibilities in a tech career.
FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW, HOW HAS IGNITE HAD AN IMPACT ON GIRLS?
At every event, there is this magical moment when I get to see a girl light up with excitement when something clicks, whether it’s writing code to make something cool or listening to a woman in tech with whom they have a shared experience. That’s the moment when I can tell that they’re hooked and that they’ve suddenly been able to see themselves in a tech career, and it’s my favorite part of the day!
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT IGNITE WITH THE WIDER COMMUNITY?
IGNITE is about more than just bringing girls into STEM careers. It also helps them develop confidence, gives them a chance to change paths and think about all their opportunities, rather than just the ones that may seem obvious by virtue of proximity.