Sunday, March 22, 2009

Women in Technology

March 24th is an Internet declared holiday of Ada Lovelace Day. It is meant to gain awareness that there is gender inequality still present in technology and draw attention to women excelling despite it.

Normally I'd pass these things over. The Internet doesn't really declare a holiday, but this one resonated too strongly. The mention of the need for female role models, the hidden discrimination, and more all are things I've seen. It hit me too deep in the gut to let this go.

But I'm not here to dwell on the past. I try and let that experience go and hope that things get better.

There are a few women I do admire in technology. Many of them are FIRST Judges. They are the movers and shakers in technology that I have had the opportunity to talk to on a level that without FIRST I would not have had the chance. Some of them have been told nice girls don't do science. Most of them are now high ranking engineers. All of them are amazing people. Helen, Deborah, Sherra, Joann, Cindy, Leann, Sue, Peko, Alex, Elaine, and more I know I'm forgetting. Every one of them is amazing in their own right. Chief Engineers, Program Managers, Professors, Deans, World Conquerers, Robot Builders, Entrepreneurs, Scientists. They are out there as the role models I missed out on.

There are astronauts too. Sunita, Sally, Shannon, Eileen. One day I may be crazy enough to join them. You are the superstars that helped drag me into engineering, the others have just kept me here.

There is finally Amy. I've never met someone with as much drive and resilience. She has shown me that anything is possible and gender does not matter. She's also been the kick when I'm stuck and need a hand. Thank you.

I really cannot say enough about the women in technology I look up to. They come from all over the country, and every industry. But each one of them is proof that it is possible to be a successful female engineer despite everything that tells you no.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Who am I

I first wrote this over a year ago, and it is about time for an updated version. I'm starting to learn it is both my actions and my choices who define me, along with my reactions to events around me. California last summer changed who I was and who I see myself as. Here goes another round at trying to define me.

I am the person who has danced the Macarena with a past CEO of Apple, the CEO of Vecna, the inventor of the Ethernet, and more, in front of more people than I care to count.
I have gone careening through an empty parking lot on top of a rolling table. I now accept that these moments will haunt me later on in life and enjoy making an idiot of myself at the time. I've been inside a space shuttle, on the top of a launch pad, and stood under an Atlas rocket. (Have you hugged a rocket today?) I dream so much, my head is stuck in the clouds. I took a leap of faith and went to a school under construction and at some points I have regretted this choice. I've eaten lunch with Jack Hanna, and heard Gloria Steinem speak. I drove around for weeks with a robot in the back of my car, leaving people unable to ride in it. I've mucked horse stalls more times that I've cleaned my room, and I'd still rather muck a stall. I may be over the age of 12, but I still want a pony (in chestnut, please). I'm still afraid that a monster may jump out of my closet and get me one night even though he's been vanquished from under my bed. I enjoy the company of animals. Horses taught me patience, and slowed me down. Dogs taught me to enjoy simple things. Flight fascinates me. Growing up scares me. I love galloping down dirt roads for no reason at all. I try to smile at every chance, even when life hands me a bowl of lemons. I've been called a "fire cracker" and the girl with the most guts around here. After four years of college, I've finally stopped always feeling like a chicken. I'm green around the edges, and even though I appear to know what I'm doing, I really don't. I've learned to hide my nearly constant fear of the unknown. I'd rather help others than myself. I’ve set off a model rocket engine while holding it in a leather man, losing all of my arm hair in the process. I’ve also launched model rockets with a 9V battery and wires a foot long. I’m amazed I’m still alive. I think I know what I want to do with life, but the idea of knowing what I'll be doing scares me. The idea of not knowing where I’ll be living in 6 months scares me more. I play chase with my Jack Russell Terrier, and am just as hard headed as she is. I'm constantly afraid I'm wrong, or am harming someone in some way. I hate disappointing people. One person tries to see how many times in a weekend he is able to make me blush. He also knows the progression in which my face turns red and will happily give you a running commentary. I'll try my hardest as long as I have proof something matters. I may have grown up in a big city, but I’m a small town girl at heart. I have a strange love of pickup trucks (4WD, diesel is the only way to go). I respect people who do their jobs professionally despite adversity and face diversity head on. I respect them more so if they help others accomplish their goals. I enjoyed my summer in California but it messed with my head. Now I need to recalibrate the amount I speak up; Olin makes me speak up too much, California not at all. I’ve been told that my ability to laugh at myself and my passion for life will keep me going much longer than anything else and I hope this is true. I know after last summer I am one tough, smart cookie.

I always hope I’m making Dad proud.