“I’m Here” is a new initiative that SPS Technology is launching to strengthen our culture, improve diversity, and become a more inclusive organization. We will feature “I’m Here” stories to share experiences and perspectives from volunteers across our teams. I’m excited to share my story to kick off the initative.
I’m here. I’m here as a woman in tech. I’m here supporting other women in tech. And, I’m here to inspire young girls to find interest in tech. When highschoolers need someone to encourage them, especially to brave their way in an industry that’s predominantely men, I’m here. Why? It’s because inspiring others is just who I am and what I do. I want people to feel like anything is possible. I want women to feel confident enough to use their full potential. And, I won’t feel rested until I do that very thing. And, that’s why I’m here.
When I was ten, Van Halen came out with the song, “Top of the World.” My oldest brother hammered it into my brain that someday we’d be standing on top of the world. Still to this day, we bellow it while he plays his air guitar. While I had no intention of standing on “top of the world,” I’ve always used that song as an inspiration. The song’s lyric, “you’ve got to give it all you got,” pumps me up. I may have even listened to it on repeat during the last six miles when I skated in the Duluth Inline Marathon, ten years ago.
Motivating others to think differently, listening to their ideas, and striving for a sense of belonging, are all reasons why I joined Women in Tech (WiT) at SPS. I’ve participated in employee resource networks at previous companies, but I never really got excited about them. SPS changed my perception of what the Women in Tech Community was really about and why it’s so exciting. As an organization, I’ve learned we all have a passion for driving change.
The women in tech community comprises just 17% of our Tech organization. When we look at diversity and inclusion, most would say that we (Tech org) have a pretty good employee engagement survey score at almost 80% reporting they feel the organization values diversity and is accepting of diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking. It’s higher than the global average. I want to take a moment to pause and ask, why doesn’t it feel that high to the women that sit in a roomful of hundreds of men?
Becoming more diverse is like telling someone to become a better strategist. It’s like telling someone to be more of an innovator. What does that exactly mean and what can I do? The mission of WiT is to inspire, encourage, and support the future of women in technology, both at SPS and in our greater community. I believe that if we all continue to drive towards that mission, we’ll see a more diverse future in Tech.
These professional and personal experiences are just some of the ways I see myself as an advocate for women in tech:
- I initiated a breakfast club in January. I had been meeting one on one with many of the ladies in Product Engineering and was hoping to broaden my circle. It’s usually a group of eight that show up and I lead conversations related to career management, WiT events, mentors, sharing success stories and whatever comes to mind.
- I participated in the Think Like a Programmer Girl Scout event where I got to work with K-3 age girls. I was helping one girl with her robotics cube, and when she got it, the look of pure joy on her face when she said she was a genius was so amazing!
- I communicate my experiences of WiT with my team and I encourage them to mentor and build relationships with women.
- I’ve influenced my niece throughout the years, who is now 23. When she was coming out of college with a marketing degree, she found herself at a tech company doing a rotation in tech (she never wanted to be in a tech role). I encourage her and talk to her often about the interesting and creative work she is doing. She no longer wants to be in marketing and wants to return to technology after her rotation is done.
I’m confident that all of you have your own experiences in supporting our WiT mission. It’s a mission that all of us can strive towards and influence the tech industry together.