As a woman of color working in tech, gender representation statistics have never surprised me. Just over 25% of technology roles are held by women, with only 3% held by Black women. While these stats may be improving over time, I know how important it is to continue working on narrowing the gender gap and increasing the racial representation within tech.
Every year, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is an opportunity for people across the world to educate the youth on career paths they could pursue related to STEM. As this date approached, I realized the importance of not only volunteering at organizations who support this mission, but to share my personal story on how I identified a field of work I love.
I decided to venture into the tech field due to a nurtured interest for problem-solving. This encouraged me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Wilberforce University, a Historically Black University in Ohio.
Upon graduation I realized that I wanted to explore the software side of tech and this led me to pursue a master’s in Management Information Systems (MIS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) with a concentration in data management. This degree helped me explore the multiple facets of data management including data engineering, database administration, and data analysis. Fortunately, in my second year I was offered an internship as a Business Analyst Intern at Union Pacific Railroad (UP), which introduced me to the world of data. During this internship, I worked closely with subject matter experts, studied data patterns, and developed cost models to help the company understand the costs of unplanned outages for business-critical applications. After graduating from UNO, I stayed at UP as an ETL Developer for three and a half years before transitioning to Spreetail as a Data Engineer. In my current role, I study business requirements to design robust solutions to business data problems.
Through undergrad and graduate school, I noticed how there were very few women in my classes - even fewer were women of color. This was an issue for me as it often felt as though I lacked allies in the room when I wanted to share unpopular opinions or when I wanted to contribute to debates.
This experience motivated me to seek out ways to close the gender gap in the tech field. During my second semester in grad school, I decided to volunteer as a panelist with CodeCrush. This immersion program is designed to introduce different facets of technology to 8th and 9th grade girls and ultimately close the gender gap in the IT workforce. I also volunteered as a mentor through the UNO Women in IT Mentee/Mentor program.
Currently, I serve as a board member at Mystery Code Society, a non-profit organization aiming to champion gender equity in tech by offering free coding classes to people of marginalized genders. It’s refreshing to work for a company that also recognizes the importance of the work needed to be done to close the gender gap in tech. One of Spreetail’s Inclusions Networks, Professional Women Rising (PWR), invited the Co-Founder of Girls Code Lincoln, to educate our team members on the needs of this program. Whether you are currently working in tech or in a different field, there are opportunities to volunteer to support the young girls participating in this immersive experience.
I am very passionate about the issue of gender and racial inequities in tech and intend to continue to help bridge the gap through my continued involvement in CodeCrush, Mystery Code Society, and any other avenues that align with this mission. I want to serve as an encouraging voice to the underrepresented groups in tech. My goal is to have more representation in spaces where anyone can walk into a room and know that they have allies as well as people that look like them.