We need more women in tech careers. And no, it’s not just a pipeline problem
Fall semester 1995.
I remember walking with a group into the college counselor’s office to discuss post- graduation job opportunities. There were about 10 women in my group and we were all asked to sign in and list our majors and what we thought we might like to do after graduation.
The woman ahead of me signed in and put down “math major,” and I heard one of the counselors say, “You’re a math major? Really?” I still don’t know what, exactly, she meant by that, but I interpreted it as surprise and confusion about a woman who was a math major. I think all of us had the same impression. I remember turning to this woman, the math major, and giving her a surprised look. She said to me in response: “It happens all the time.”
I’m surprised, but also not surprised, to be writing about this experience so many years later.
Representation matters. In 1990-something, there weren’t many women math or computer science majors that I could point to as role models. It’s a good thing that I didn’t listen to people who didn’t understand my field and my interest in digital mapping. No one knew what to do with me and my geography degree, but I think they all assumed that I would become a professor. I ended up using my computer skills and my interest in technology and geography to become a geographic information systems (GIS) analyst, and it’s been a fantastic and interesting career.