Women in tech are making real impacts on the industry. Intel's Marie Claire is one of them.
Tell us a bit about what you do and what a typical day looks like.
I'm a servant leader and data governance for the forward engineering team. Part of my responsibility includes building and co-leading high-performing teams with a technical focus to create products that solve complex issues. We deliver the innovative IT solutions and services that enable our customers to bring their software solutions to market faster with higher quality.
My typical day involves engineering on projects that I'm collaborating on and attending status and project meetings. Every morning I ask myself: what's one important, high priority with high business risk thing that we have to finish this week? What do I need to do to make sure it gets done? So, my typical day may change drastically day over day, week over week, and month over month.
Did you always know you wanted to work in technology? How did you decide to go into engineering?
When I was young, I wanted to be a medical doctor. After graduating from high school, I got a government scholarship, and after getting acquainted with the faculty, I chose to pursue computer engineering. Eventually, I switched my major to computer science because I couldn't pay for private medical school, and engineering scholarships were offering top-notch benefits. Although it might not be directly working with patients, I realized that I could change the world through technology.
Many women in the tech industry feel that their gender has affected how they are perceived or treated. Have you also felt this, and how did you handle it?
Being a woman in the tech industry is not always easy, and being the only woman in the boardroom can put unseen pressure on you. However, my experience as being a "woman in tech" has been fairly positive and pretty rewarding. I have never experienced any form of sexism in the workplace. I see many women really appreciated for what they do in tech and that has stirred and fueled my passion for STEM more as I evolved professionally.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
My favorite part about being a woman in tech is bringing positive impacts to my organization and the industry. It's exciting to see my efforts moving the needle for the organizations I passed through, counting from where I am currently. I love seeing the quantifiable results of my projects and knowing that my work is invaluable to the company. It helps me grow my professional confidence. Also, being surrounded by other women in tech is encourages other women to get into the industry. It helps me keep up with tech and continue to be a role model while still learning myself.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that's the case?
Yes, it's a well-known fact that there aren't many women working in tech. Men dominate the technology sector, and while women may seem interested in getting into a career in the technology sector at first, many drop out along the way.
It's a big and complex problem to get more women excited about a tech career. Some of the reasons include the lack of role models and female mentors, mindset, gender inequality in STEM jobs, getting discouraged in their surrounding communities, inability to find a balance for some, and not having enough hands-on experience with STEM subjects.
Many women in the tech industry consider themselves introverts. Are you an introvert, and if so, what is the most challenging thing about being an introvert in the tech industry? How did you overcome it?
Yes, being quiet comes with a few perks: watching, listening, and processing. This, coupled with the ability to thrive in solitude, makes me uniquely gifted in storytelling and communication. I have learned how to use my introversion as a strength. I'm good at listening and getting to the root of a problem before offering a solution. Being an introvert is an important skill to gain if one wants to succeed in the tech industry. I am glad that being a female programmer allowed me to learn and overcome adversities at work with certainty.
Is there a female technologist you admire who has influenced your career journey and choices?
Yes, I admire many women, including my Techwomen mentor (TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) Jill Von Berg, who was the former Vice President and CIO at Calix. Also, my mentor at Intel Aguirre Rojas, Alexandra, works as Technical Product Owner and Crystal Rugege, a Managing Director at Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
I would say that tech is a great way to bring your ideas to life. Everything today involves and is accelerated by tech. Despite leading the world today, tech is also the only sector to date in which everyone can invest and win big without any initial capital, instead of just using their brain and skill as the capital. Also, there is nothing more fun than seeing quick results.
My piece of advice to women out there is—keep your mind open, learn something new every day. Be kind, rational, and objective. Don't think about being a woman too much, but rather, try to believe in yourself and strive to become the better version of yourself.
I should know that both women and men support women in tech! The support I have received personally has come from both genders, and that is simply fantastic.
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