Happy Women’s History Month to all the amazing women in tech! This month, we celebrate the contributions of women throughout history who have shattered barriers and made significant strides in the tech industry.
From Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, to Grace Hopper, who developed the first compiler, women have played a pivotal role in shaping the technology we use today.
Let’s continue to celebrate, empower, and inspire the next generation of women in tech!
#WomensHistoryMonth #WomenInTech #GirlPower
LT: What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?
JAD: If you had told me back in 1999 that I would be working in tech now, I never would have believed you. So many people I graduated with back then hopped right into tech, but I was skeptical. I thought online shopping would never take off. I distinctly remember saying “how could anyone buy shoes online?” Boy was I wrong!
I started my career on the Creative & Advertising team in the home office of a retail business, and the business was very divided: physical stores vs website. I had a lot of experience on the store side of things, but was really in the dark about e-commerce. For a long time, I was fine with that. But, I knew that if I wanted to advance in my career, I needed to expand my knowledge in tech, so on top of my full time job, being the mom of 3 kids under 10, with a long commute every day, in my spare time, I started taking courses in HTML, CSS, and WordPress. Over time, I became a reluctant tech fan. After seeing the opportunities that tech could lead to, and gaining some great experience working with Tasha, I decided to start my own business.
LT: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry, and how have you overcome them?
JAD: I would say that I haven’t faced many challenges as a woman in tech–at least not in the way most would expect – because most of the people I’ve worked with in this “tech phase” of my career have been women! In my previous work, when I had the opportunity to partner with someone on the tech side of our business, there always seemed to be this veil of mystery around what they did. I don’t think it was intentional, but it just seemed that the tech folks didn’t want to take the time to explain things to the non-tech folks. So, I think the challenge I’ve had is starting in tech from the point where it was something that “wasn’t for me” or “over my head”. I will admit, at this point, I am not a tech wiz by any means, but I do feel much more comfortable tinkering with things.
LT: In your opinion, what can companies do to improve diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry?
JAD: Companies that include people from all different backgrounds will always thrive, so diversity is a requirement. To promote diversity, companies should enable their employees to balance their work and personal life however they need to. As a mom of three, I know there are some times you can give work your all, and there are other times when you can give your family your all. It’s rare that you can do both, so to keep moms and dads in the workplace, we really need to allow them to flex their time as needed. It seems like a lot of businesses manage their people from the standpoint of assuming the worst of their people, where they should really be assuming the best. As a manager, I know that the vast majority of people want to do the best they can, and they deserve to be treated that way.
LT: What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in technology?
JAD: DO IT! There’s a place for everyone in tech, you just have to find your spot. Young women today have grown up using tech at a much higher rate than other (somewhat technophobic) generations, so they should take advantage of the leg up that they naturally have and go for it. It may require extra effort to get there, or even to take a step back before taking another step forward, but it’s totally worth it. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and adapt as you go. And, always bring a sweater with you in case it’s chilly.
Sorry, I’m a mom, so that last one just slipped out, I couldn’t help myself! 😉
LT: What technologies or trends in the tech industry are you most excited about?
JAD: This is far beyond my understanding or skillset, but the idea of VR allowing medical procedures to be done virtually will be life-changing for so many people. Living in a rural community, I can see how important this is.
I am also generally excited about the idea of remote work being more popular, beyond the tech industry. I know this would have been a game-changer for me as a young mom and am happy to see how much flexibility it opens up for people. I think there’s a big learning curve for companies from an HR perspective on how to make remote or hybrid setups work, but I’m encouraged by the efforts I’m seeing.
LT: How do you stay current with the latest developments in the tech industry?
JAD: I stay active with a few different memberships and Facebook groups, and have a few podcasts I listen to regularly, like Divi Chat. I also take courses from time to time to learn new skills. I’d also say I stay current just by doing the work, so it’s great to be part of the Lavender Turtle team. Each project is unique, and as I take on a new project, I’m learning what’s new out there. Not being naturally gifted in tech, I have a hard time reading about something and understanding it. I need to see it in action to “get it”. I’m a big believer in learning by doing.
LT: What are your goals for your career in technology, and what steps are you taking to achieve them?
JAD: I am combining my skills from my early career days with my new tech skills and building my own brand strategy and web design business. I’m also continuing to take classes in design and tech. Networking both with former colleagues and new people I meet is a big part of achieving this goal, too.
Jessica is a brand strategist, web designer, wife and mom of three. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she spent the first 20 years of her career as an in-house creative. She now lives in beautiful Northeastern Pennsylvania and runs her own business, in addition to her work with Lavender Turtle. Outside of work, she loves cooking, reading exercising, and binging Real Housewives podcasts.