Women discuss experience in tech industry

April 12, 2019

During the second annual Women LEAD in Tech, four women shared their experiences and struggles while working the world of technology. During the Q&A, they gave advice to women going into tech and shared inspiring stories of finding advisors.

When asked about unexpected hurdles the women faced in their careers, all panelists agreed that there are no major ones they face. Hazal Uzunkaya, a research technology specialist and service coordinator at the Brandeis MakerLab, pointed out that her “team looks out for [her] more than [she] looks out for [herself].”

Molly Marcus ’18, who now works in a rotational program where she explores various types of engineering teams under Constant Contacts, said that most of her struggles are internal.

Maria Altebarmakian ’19, a PhD student at Brandeis in the Computer Science, shared that when she comes to job interviews, people assume that she does not know anything. Although that can be seen as a hurdle, it just indicates to her that it is not an environment she would want to work in.

Currently, only about 80 of the 300 declared Computer Science majors at Brandeis are women, and there is a need for more women in the industry. Marcus and Hayley Ross ’20, a graduate student in Computational Linguistics, acknowledged that seeing more women in the field could encourage younger women to go into it.

Altebarmakian added that there should be caution about segregating women and men, since everyone is equally capable of being in the field: “encourage little girls, but don’t single them out.” Marcus agreed, saying that the learning should be done in a comfortable environment.

All the panelists also disagreed that women should act more like men to be successful in the field. Altebarmakian said that the issue in this is not about gender, but about respecting everyone equally. Uzunkaya simply said that you should not “waste your time training [women] to act like [boys].” Marcus also pointed out that women tend to be better at soft skills, a benefit in the profession that should be neglected in efforts to act more masculine.   

Ross concluded that in the field, “the less you have to think about gender, the better.” The event was sponsored by BITMAP and Girls Who Code.

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