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?
NW: About 15 years ago, I had no experience with websites but decided to make one for my dad who’s a sculptor and needed an online presence. It was pretty bad and neither of us knew better. I’m a contemporary dance artist and have been living a “gig life” for a long time, and a few years ago I decided that I needed another, more lucrative, longterm, flexible side-gig to support the erratic nature of my creative work. In 2020 I was working full time as a cashier at a grocery store, teaching dance, and studying code in all of my downtime. I needed a break from the grocery store after a year of the pandemic, and that’s about when I met Tasha at Lavender Turtle. I started as her assistant, which was familiar work for me, but then grew into overseeing and supporting the myriad projects we work on. I feel pretty proud of my work and becoming a Project Manager! I had a lot of transferable skills that have helped me grow in the position, and getting to work on my own terms with a team that I admire and love has been a great shift for me.
LT: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech industry, and how have you overcome them?
NW: My mom is a huge tech nerd, so I’ve always had a bit of gadget geekery in me. When I’m not in a tech environment, I’ve noticed that men who are in tech often assume I won’t know anything about the tech industry, software, etc…. From what coding languages are to what cybersecurity is, to how a digital camera works or what video and sound editing software are out there. I get kind of tired of surprising people. But I’ve been lucky to work in circles where women are rocking these programs and pushing their industries forward. I think I’ve sidestepped the discrimination that other women have had to endure in tech because I found SkillCrush early and dropped into working for Lavender Turtle without undergoing an extensive job search. I feel lucky for this.
LT: In your opinion, what can companies do to improve diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry?
NW: Support the education of diverse populations and people who have trouble accessing that education. This might look like scholarships, other education initiatives, or supporting organizations who are doing this work. It’s important, though, to understand that people can’t take advantage of these opportunities if they don’t know about them—so making them known and accessible is also vital. Offer paid internship opportunities to the people you want to expand your inclusivity to. Use inclusive language and seek consultation to help fill in the gaps. Make accessibility a priority and a part of all designs (universal design) rather than an afterthought.
LT: What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in technology?
NW: Go for it! There are many ways to study tech, so if you are interested in it but don’t feel like you’re in your educational groove, keep going and look for the educational opportunity that will fit your life/schedule/financial needs. Whether you’re spending $$$$ or self-teaching through YouTube videos, I highly recommend finding a community to be a part of. By studying online with SkillCrush, I was able to have one-on-one advising, attend group Q&A’s, and plug into their extensive Slack community. Having that support was really important for me. Many skills can be learned alone, but done in community you get the benefit of faster learning and deeper engagement, network building, and greater opportunities for finding your first job.
LT: What technologies or trends in the tech industry are you most excited about?
NW: I’m turning into a bit of a data privacy nerd. I love following cybersecurity news and how the field of data security is changing so quickly. I casually follow the unsettling space race of self-driving cars. I’m also interested in any technology that overlaps with physical experience, from the development of virtual reality, technology used in performance that interacts with performers and/or audience (such as Ai Weiwei’s Hansel & Gretel or Chunky Move’s Glow), or the way that screendance can change our relationship with the moving body (Check out Breathless Puppets, choreographed by Akram Khan and directed by Naaman Azhari).
LT: How do you stay current with the latest developments in the tech industry?
NW: I’m a WIRED nerd. I listen to the daily articles which have been brilliantly turned into podcasts that I can listen to on the go. In writing this, I went down a little wormhole trying to figure out who narrates these podcasts but upon coming up empty handed, I’m wondering now if it’s AI. I swear I can hear him breathing sometimes. Whether he’s real or not, my confusion points to an interesting development in AI and Apple’s use of human narrators’ voices to generate AI narrators. Apple released a number of new AI-read audiobooks early this year. I also tune into the podcast Cyber Security Headlines. There are tons of great blogs on tech, but I typically go for podcasts because I’m always on the go and hate staring at my phone.
LT: What are your goals for your career in technology, and what steps are you taking to achieve them?
NW: I’m really enjoying developing my project management skills. It’s a fun job. I get to support the team and projects without being a “boss,” and I had a lot of transferable skills from my experiences producing dance concerts or doing administrative work to support dance companies, which constantly have new projects underway. While I would love to keep learning to code, I think continuing on the path of agile project management would be a better fit for me. I really loathe Google (because I believe in data privacy, customer support, and preventing monopolies), but I’m doing their Project Management Course and am planning to get my CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) from PMI (the Project Mangement Institute) this summer. Part of me wants to follow my interests in cybersecurity and I’ve been looking into programs. I’m a bit of a career butterfly—I have many interests and I love to learn. But I’m digging what I’m doing right now and I think I’ll be at Lavender Turtle for a while yet. There’s been ample opportunity to grow, and you can’t find a better team to work with.
Nichele is equal parts tree-lover, nerd, and artist. She splits her time between project management, choreographing, and teaching dance. Currently based in Salt Lake City, she loves to get outside to enjoy the great outdoors of the Uinta and Wasatch mountains. Nichele has had many odd jobs. Some of her favorites have included threading movie reels into projectors, shipping bacon (Nichele is a vegetarian), giving chocolate tastings, and working in a winery.