Program Manager, Microsoft
WHY YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH IGNITE?
When I was in high school, I loved my computer class. It felt very creative and I loved pushing the boundaries of the assignments. I loved the thrill of getting my code to work. But no one every told me, “hey, you could major in this.” I just never saw myself working in tech. I think it’s important to make sure all women know there’s a place for them in all parts of tech, and not just coding. I tell young women that when I was in high school we were still being told “you should learn how to type, so you have something to fall back on.” These days typing is something everyone does, so I tell them they should learn to code, so they have something to fall back on. But if you aren’t interested in code, there are lots of other careers out there, and pretty much everything you can think of has technology associated with it, from arts to zoology. Do what you love, but find the tech aspect to it.
DESCRIBE A TIME IGNITE INSPIRED YOU
I was on an IGNITE panel at a school and one of the other panelists was talking about how she got into engineering. She said she got a D in every class, but D stood for Diploma and she passed. That floored me. Even if someone had told me in high school that I could major in computer science, and if I tried it and got bad grades, I would have switched to something where I could get As. We talk a lot at Microsoft now about the importance of a “growth mindset” vs a “fixed mindset”, and I’ve been very “fixed” where education is concerned. It just never occurred to me until I heard her talk that it’s OK not to get top grades in school, as long as you’re learning something.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE OUR WIDER COMMUNITY TO KNOW ABOUT IGNITE?
I think IGNITE is a fantastic organization. Cathi is an inspiration to all of us! We just never know what words or stories might change the course of a girl’s life and IGNITE gives us a swing at it for a whole room full. Also, I find that when I take time to go be on a panel and talk about how great my job is, I remember how great my job is. There aren’t enough women thinking about tech careers, so IGNITE is doing the right thing by starting young.