Blog Feed Post

Words of Wisdom from 18 Women in Tech

As International Women’s Day approached, I thought about what I could do to recognize this day. Recently the news has been filled with stories from women like Susan Fowler at Uber and AJ Vandermeyden at Telsa about the discrimination and harassment that is pervasive in tech. These stories need to be told and shared, but I often worry these can scare women away from careers in tech. When we share our opinions and thoughts on our experiences, it often doesn’t turn out well—but this should not stop us.

Working in tech for almost 20 years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some amazing women. These women all have different starts and different stories, so I decided to balance some of the disappointing stories covered in the media with some inspiration from the women I have admired for years. After a sending a quick Facebook post, some emails, and a few direct messages on Twitter and LinkedIn, I quickly started receiving responses from women (and one man) agreeing to participate.

The common thread among all the women here isn’t simply the fact that they are women; but, rather, the fact that we are all technologists doing something we love and care deeply about.

Here are the stories and advice from women in tech, highlighting the diversity of roles and opportunities in the tech community. Told in their own words, these stories show the journeys these women have taken, what they have learned along the way, and what technology innovation they hope to see in the future. They have inspired me for years, and I hope they inspire you as well.

Women of Catchpoint

Dawn Parzych @dparzych
Director of Product & Solution Marketing 

I figured it was only fair for me to participate in this as well. My first job out of college was a teacher, I didn’t venture into the tech space for another 5 years. My first tech job was developing websites.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

I want a fully interactive hologram. Video conferencing makes working remote easier, but there is still so much I miss by not being physically present. If I could “see” things and interact with people through my hologram that would be great.

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

The best advice I was ever given is “women can have it all, just not all at the same time.”  This really resonated with me as I made a difficult decision to leave the workforce for a brief period of time. I always thought I would keep my career after becoming a mom, when we became foster parents to a 6-year-old boy (who we went on to adopt), that changed. Our son was having a hard time adjusting and I couldn’t give my career and family the attention they both needed. The career had to be placed on the back burner. Before I hear, “why didn’t my husband quit his job?” “why is it always the woman that quits?” – he did as well. Knowing this didn’t mean I was failing made the decision easier. Being aware of your limitations and changing your priorities is OK.

Natasha Callender @kallsey
Performance Engineer  – Catchpoint

Natasha’s first job was for her parents’ video production company where she did whatever needed to be done. The highlight of working there was watching her father and uncle build a television production truck from scratch before the first Barbados GospelFest. Helping her father take an outrageous idea into reality was quite the experience.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

A carbon nanotube capable of being the basis of a space elevator. I read Arthur C. Clarke’s Fountains of Paradise describing the construction of such an elevator and it’s an idea that captures my imagination like little else. First, because it is in the realm of possibility and second, because the ability to reach Low Earth Orbit without rocket propulsion would open the doors to advances that are currently science fiction.

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

Without regard to success or failure, find something technically interesting or challenging and just try to do it. Make a habit of working on something new. Technology changes too fast to rely on formal instruction alone. My experience has been that the most valuable skill anyone can have in tech is both the ability to learn and the willingness to fail spectacularly. The caveat being, of course, that those failures lead to continued learning. In fact, the best advice for women in tech comes from the literary world. It’s a saying I keep in my inbox, on my phone, and I scribble on the inside of every new journal and notebook. It’s my insurance against laziness and complacency.

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your work. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.

“Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent. Never let pride or laziness prevent you from learning, improving your writing, changing its direction when necessary.


— Octavia Butler, “Furor Scribendi”

Camille Fremed
VP Technical Operations 

Camille took a job as a secretary in the group working on the RISC processor at IBM T.J. Watson Research center to get her foot in the door at an excellent company that provided a technical path for those interested in pursuing this dream. From there, she moved to HR and primarily worked on the systems that supported the organization and taught herself to use every tool she could get her hands on. Her final transition to tech occurred when she joined the group creating and supporting the compilers and OS for IBM’s Unix Platform.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

Universal affordable online education.  That would include the delivery, available network, and material. Gadgets are cool, but education is cooler.

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

Don’t be intimidated, no language or tool is insurmountable. Classes are great but nothing beats teaching yourself and surrounding yourself with mentors who are bright and want to share their knowledge. I would not be where I was today without the amazing support and push I received from my mentor and manager in my early days at IBM. Sometimes you will need to take the not-so-ideal job to get where you want to go, don’t shy away from that.

Women today have a lot more opportunities in tech then when I started out, but it is still largely a male-dominated world. Look to what interests you rather than what can make you the most money, and find a mentor that you can trust and learn from.

Remarkable Women in Tech

Suzanne Aldrich @SuzanneAldrich
Solutions Engineer – Cloudflare
Suzanne’s first job was as a Technical Consultant for HREF Tools Corp. She was the administrator for a rack of Linux and Windows 2000 servers running IIS and WebHub. She lead a team to transfer an entire rack to a new datacenter with less than 2 hours of downtime.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?
I would like to see an invention designed to help people optimize their day-to-day lives so that they have more time for family and friends instead of worrying about chores. This invention could use big data and augmented reality to provide the information necessary for making better decisions on tasks like buying groceries cheaper and more quickly, catching the best window of time for your daily commute, and finding the best-suited people to help you out with tasks.

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?
Always keep digging in and never give up. Even when it feels like you will never be able to solve a technical problem, that’s almost always the point where you’re really close to solving it. The expertise you develop solving these issues is the same set of skills you will use every day at your job. You don’t have to know everything about technology in order to be an IT worker; you just have to be willing to stretch your brain with new concepts and tools. Every day I strive to learn something new.

Suzanne Carter  @iambrandsuz
Manager, Analytics

Suzanne’s first tech job was as a telephone interviewer with Gallup. She then moved up to a role as survey coder using paper and pencil! Today, software takes care of a lot of the work that used to be done with paper and pencil, but the skills in validating the results stay the same.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

I’m really interested in what biotech has to offer. Precision treatment. Treatments for the heretofore untreatable. For selfish reasons, I’d like to see hearing loss reversed. There are two biotech firms I’m aware of that are working on this issue, so: go, team, go!

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

Don’t underestimate what might get you there. I wanted to be a psychologist because I was fascinated with people – so many different attitudes, reactions, behaviors – from there, I became fascinated with data of all stripes. I love data and what gets me access to lots of it.

Tammy Everts @tameverts
Director of Research & Editorial – Soasta

Tammy’s first job was as an editor at a company that published educational, non-fiction books for children. Two lessons she learned from that were how to be conscise and explain difficult concepts so anyone can understand have been hugely valuable throughout her career.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

I’m really looking forward to seeing autonomous cars become mainstream. It’ll validate the fact that I never learned to drive!

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

Keep your mind – and your options – open. There’s a very good chance that the job you’ll have one day hasn’t even been invented yet. If someone had told me when I was a teenager (back before the internet as we know it had been invented) that some day, I’d be blogging about web performance for a living, it would’ve sounded like complete gibberish.

People talk a lot about “imposter syndrome,” and I’ve definitely suffered from my share of it over the past twenty years. But I’ve recently realized that there’s a flip side to imposter syndrome that you can harness and use. I call it “outsider syndrome.” I’ve always felt like an outsider, both as a nerd and a woman – and as someone who’s chosen to live way outside the Bay Area and other tech hubs – but I’ve realized that my outsiderness gives me an objectivity in my research and my writing that I might not otherwise have. I see things from a different perspective than an insider might, and it makes me comfortable asking weird questions and approaching problems and data in unusual ways. I’ve come full circle and now I value and cherish my outsider status.

Laura Hendrickson
Program Manager F5 on F5 – F5 Networks

Laura’s first job at 13 was in a kitchen washing dishes, taking out trash, setting up and breaking down, and washing the floors. Her first tech job was as a Help Desk Analyst at Medalia Healthcare.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

Something that gives me amazing work/life balance.

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

If you love tech, heck if you love anything, don’t let anyone talk you out of doing what you want. And don’t be afraid to disagree with people (or agree with them) and never lose your voice in the room.

The women who I have had the good fortune to work with have been confident in their abilities and in what they do. They understand gender dynamics and don’t cow to them. And they respect their own intelligence.

Helen Johnson @mizhelen
Technical Account Manager – Dell EMC Technologies

Like many Seattleites, Helen’s first job was in a coffee shop. Her first technical job was as a Network Analyst at XPoint Corporation (now a part of TCS).

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

A Roomba that cleans the toilets? Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing more tech applied to organic farming–what that invention would be, I’m not entirely sure.

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

Do your homework and don’t be afraid to speak up, be it in class or meetings. Also, be yourself.

Lori MacVittie @lmacvittie

Principal Technical Evangelist – F5 Networks

Although it may be dating her, Lori’s first job was as a Programmer/Analyst for an electronic tax software company.

What high tech innovation do you hope to see in the next 5 years?

Hover boards. We were PROMISED there would be *real* hover boards.

What advice do you have for young girls or women looking for a career in IT?

Stick with it.                 </div>
                                  <p class=Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Mehdi Daoudi

Catchpoint radically transforms the way businesses manage, monitor, and test the performance of online applications. Truly understand and improve user experience with clear visibility into complex, distributed online systems.

Founded in 2008 by four DoubleClick / Google executives with a passion for speed, reliability and overall better online experiences, Catchpoint has now become the most innovative provider of web performance testing and monitoring solutions. We are a team with expertise in designing, building, operating, scaling and monitoring highly transactional Internet services used by thousands of companies and impacting the experience of millions of users. Catchpoint is funded by top-tier venture capital firm, Battery Ventures, which has invested in category leaders such as Akamai, Omniture (Adobe Systems), Optimizely, Tealium, BazaarVoice, Marketo and many more.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
Continuous Delivery makes it possible to exploit findings of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to increase the productivity and happiness of our teams. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Daniel Jones, CTO of EngineerBetter, will answer: How can we improve willpower and decrease technical debt? Is the present bias real? How can we turn it to our advantage? Can you increase a team’s effective IQ? How do DevOps & Product Teams increase empathy, and what impact does empath...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, discussed how given the magnitude of today's application ...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
You know you need the cloud, but you're hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You're looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you're concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies. What do you do?
Sanjeev Sharma Joins June 5-7, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @Cloud Expo New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...