By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)
Last week, Bloomberg hosted the NCWIT Aspirations Award ceremony – a special event to honor young women in high school who have excelled in the area of computing. Keynote speaker Jacqui Meyer, R&D Chief of Staff at Bloomberg, explained how she found her way into the technology field as she was finishing college. Intending to go into sports marketing after graduating, she interviewed with the company just to keep her options open. During the interview, she was asked about her experience writing software – and she didn’t have any. But, she said, she could learn whatever they wanted to teach her.
That was in 1993 – and 19 years later, she’s still with the Bloomberg. “Why?” she asked. “I love the challenge.”
She explained that the challenge of writing software to solve financial problems has become a passion for her. But it wasn’t something she even considered while in school. “I don’t think anyone was trying to hold me back because I was female,” she recalled. “I just didn’t know it was available to me.”
Meyer urged the award winners to keep drawing young women into the industry. “You all respect, understand, and value the way technology could be used to unlock doors,” she said. “You also have a responsibility to be an ambassador for women in technology, paving the way for those who will follow you.”
Similarly, Ruthe Farmer, Director of Strategic Initiatives for NCWIT, encouraged the winners to understand how valuable they are for the future workforce, pointing out that the US will only have 29% of the workers it will need for technology jobs by 2018. “A company like Bloomberg wouldn’t put out all of this time and energy if you weren’t really important to them, and you are really important to a lot of companies,” she said.
She added, “Let people know what you’re available to do and what you’re capable of.”
In that light, this week The Glass Hammer is highlighting high ranking women who have achieved success in the technology field. They reveal the wide-ranging possibilities for a career in the industry, and, hopefully, serve as a role model for women climbing the career ladder, as well as their peers.
Check back all week long to read profiles of women in IT careers, describing how they got to where they are today and their advice for the next generation of women in technology.