Finding your path in technology
Every year, International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in April. Celebrations and events on the day seek to empower and encourage girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Talking Tech is an interview series celebrating girls and women in technology for Girls in ICT Day, in which young women interview tenured women in technology and discuss their work experiences, the future of technology, and their perspective on the status and future of women in tech. Throughout these interviews it is clear that, despite technology being a male-dominated field, there exists extensive support and encouragement for women in this field.
Technology continues to evolve.
Every field across government, business, entertainment, and fashion incorporates technology, creating new job opportunities across every industry. Digital tools and the internet can make work more efficient and effective, and, because of that, the field continues to expand and allows people to dive into more complex work.
Technology is a critical tool in solving societal problems such as climate change, racial injustice, and poverty among other issues, but the unfortunate reality is that those problems tend to disproportionately affect women at a higher rate than men. As such, it is critical to give women a seat at the tech table and ensure that their voices are heard at every step, from software development to artificial intelligence R&D.
The challenge now is showing women that not only are they capable of executing in these roles, but that their presence is necessary.
While more opportunities exist for women today, we continue to fight implicit and explicit biases in this field. Through increased engagement with girls and young women, there is an opportunity to make more space for women and transform the industry.
Leveraging relationships, exploring your interests, and trusting yourself and abilities can propel women in their careers. A common misconception is that it is necessary to have an education anchored in computer science and math to succeed in these fields. The reality is that the best teams have diversity in thought and representation across gender, race, religion, among other variables. I studied international politics at Georgetown University, but my humanities and critical thinking background has allowed me to excel in my career across technology, finance, and consulting.
Mentorship can empower women, but the most important part of your career is to stay true to your passions and advocate for yourself. Take calculated risks and meet people in different fields and work - engaging with different industries helps you explore your interests and exposes you to career paths you may not have considered otherwise.
Oftentimes, the most successful and happy people are those who have found ways to marry their personal interests to their professional ones and apply the skills they have developed in their personal life to their career. Outside of my work, I am an active stand-up comedian, performing at multiple shows each week. While not explicitly related to my career, performing on stage taught me how to engage all types of audiences, embrace failure and learn from my mistakes, exercise compassion and understanding, and distill narratives into concise and clear messages. This experience taught me invaluable skills that I would not have learned otherwise.
Dive into your interests regardless of how unique, engage with people who have interesting career trajectories, and understand how you can incorporate their lessons in your career.
Be open minded and understand that your career may not look like the one you envisioned for yourself when you were young - as you grow and change, your career evolves in turn and that is okay. Ultimately, there is more work to be done to engage with women in technology and male-dominated fields generally, but it is critical to leverage allies, make space for women, and elevate women’s voices.
Clara Steiner is a government strategy consultant, specializing in humanitarian crises with a background in technology and finance. She focuses on data-driven strategic analysis/ implementation, performance enhancement, and executive management. She is interested in social impact, focusing on causes ranging from refugee resettlement to climate crises and gender equity. Clara holds a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Clara Steiner is a UN Volunteer.
This blog post was inspired by episodes 41-50 of Talking Tech: Girls and Women in ICT, an intergenerational interview project in support of Girls in ICT Day 2020-2022 and of EQUALS. The project is run by ITU, UN ICC and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.