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Software engineer shares thrills and spills of the computer science industry

This software engineer made her mark working on major projects for a world-renowned amusement park while overcoming discrimination and sexual harassment. 30 years after beginning her career in computer science, she finds her job worthwhile, but finds personal fulfillment and reward through writing and sharing her story.

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
My job title is Senior Software Engineer. I have worked as a software engineer for 30 years.

Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
A software engineer’s job involves computer programming, but the job has a wider breadth than just writing computer code. I’m responsible for gathering requirements, designing, implementing and testing software for a product that’s used by major corporations to design mechanical objects including cars, ships, factory equipment and smaller consumer items like cameras, vacuums, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets. The type of programming that I do involves computer science, mathematics and 3D computer graphics.

On a typical day, I am either designing and writing new software or fixing problems (or “bugs”) in software used by customers. I am a member of a team that’s located elsewhere in the U.S., so I may be talking to one of my teammates by phone or attending a meeting that takes place via conference call. My company is multinational and I work with employees and customers all over the world. I receive 50-100 email messages a day so I spend part of my day responding to email requests and questions.

What is your ethnicity? What kinds of discrimination have you experienced?
As a Caucasian female, I am a member of a minority in my field. In addition to Caucasian males, my industry is dominated by men from China and India. In my current company I don’t experience any overt discrimination, but women are mostly left out of the casual socializing that many of the men engage in. Groups of men network by going out to lunch together, but because of cultural customs they do not include women. The women who are engineers (as opposed to clerical workers) do not typically network in the same way. This situation makes it harder to get noticed as a woman.

My first programming job was with a major entertainment company that runs a movie studio and several world-famous theme parks. I experienced a great deal of discrimination and harassment at that company, despite the fact that I was successfully completing major projects. I left that company due to the discrimination I was experiencing.

If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?
At my first software engineering job, I was naïve about the interest that my male co-workers showed in me. What I believed was professional mentoring turned out to be an interest on their part in dating me or having an affair. Some of these men later took credit for my work or ideas or made untrue claims about the quality of my work. I talked to my manager and to his boss about the problem but felt that I was going against a “good old boy” club. I then spoke to the company’s Human Resources department, not realizing that the company’s goal was to discredit any possible claims of sexual harassment.

The response that worked best for me in this case was leaving the company. Since I had just completed my Computer Science degree and had a few years of valuable work experience, I was able to quickly find another job that almost doubled my salary. After I few months in my new position, I realized how unprofessional and discriminatory my previous co-workers and managers had been.

Where you work, how well does your company do ‘equal opportunity’? Is management white and male? How are minorities perceived and treated?
I am lucky to work for a multi-national corporation that is very conscientious about equal opportunity. Management is not exclusively white and male. People of other ethnicities are well represented and are treated equally and with respect. I think that women must work harder to get ahead, but many women do and have advanced to senior technical and management positions.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
My university degree prepared me for the technical aspects of my job but did not provide enough training in making presentations. I overcame a fear of public speaking and learned on the job how to present my ideas to my manager, teammates and larger groups of people. I also had to learn (often the hard way) how to network and protect my professional reputation.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
As a senior in high school, I was interested in both Math and English and had high SAT scores in both areas. As a freshman in college, I took an elementary Computer Science class. I enjoyed the subject matter but was intimidated by the fact that I was the only woman in a class of 50 students. Also, those were the days of mainframe computers and punched cards, so programming was frustratingly time consuming. At the end of my freshman year I decided to major in English with a minor in Dramatic Art. I was interested in costume design and went on to design costumes for several university productions.

After completing my English degree, I worked for a few years making costumes for movies and plays. The job involved long hours and very little pay and I didn’t seem to be getting closer to my goal of becoming a costume designer (as opposed to the person who just sewed the costumes). I decided I wanted a career that was more stable and paid more money. By this time computers had advanced and the first personal computers were being introduced, so I made a career in computers my goal.

I went back to school and earned a BS in Computer Science. While working on my degree, I participated in the co-op program which involved working full-time as a software engineer in place of taking classes. After my co-op assignment was completed, I was hired as a part-time software engineer with the same company. Because I had gained experience with personal computers (called micro computers in those days), I was assigned to some major projects that were part of a new theme park. It was a very exciting experience.

I don’t regret anything about the way I got started as a software engineer. My degree in English enriched my life and helped me develop my writing skills. Most software engineers are not good at writing, so this has given me an edge.

On a good day, when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
Even though I’ve been programming for 30 years, I am still passionate about fixing a bug or implementing some complex functionality. Working through a problem, using the knowledge I’ve gained with years of programming experience and then seeing the results of my work on the computer screen really makes me feel good. Luckily, I’m able to experience this feeling almost every day.

When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
One of the most frustrating aspects of my job is realizing that some code I wrote has a bug in it that has been found by a customer. In this case, I have to quickly find a better solution. Another frustration is encountering a problem that I can’t solve. In this case, I have to ask a teammate for assistance. Most software engineers like to find their own solutions and don’t like having to ask for help.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
Most people would view my job as stressful because there is little room for error, but I’ve been doing it a long time and have learned to deal with the stress. The field of software engineering is demanding and many people put in long hours, but after a few years I learned to limit the number of overtime hours per week that I work. This has helped me avoid total burnout and work-related problems in my personal life. I have become more efficient at my job (“working smarter”), so I don’t need to put in as many hours as I once did.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?
I would rate my job satisfaction as 8. A more exciting work environment and more opportunities to travel would increase my rating. On the other hand, I am paid well and have flexible hours, so those are big pluses.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
The salary range for a software engineer doing the type of work I do ranges from $75,000 to more than $150,000 per year. Engineers with more experience and more years at a single company can expect a higher salary. I believe this salary range is very fair considering the responsibilities.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
My most rewarding moment in my current position was playing a major role in reinventing our product for the Microsoft Windows platform, which opened the door to more sales.
I am most proud of work I did for my first job, where I completed several large projects for a new theme park. The night before the theme park opened, I stayed up all night installing a series of video games that I designed and implemented. When I went back to my hotel to change clothes for the park’s opening, I turned on the TV and saw that Today and Good Morning America were featuring the park’s opening.

I recommend that software engineers volunteer for high profile assignments. This type of assignment carries a lot of risk in terms of failure, but is also the most rewarding and is the quickest way to get promoted.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
I was most challenged when I became a manager shortly after giving birth to my second child. I had a great deal of stress in my personal life, which included my father being ill with terminal cancer, and I was put in charge of a team that was somewhat lacking in talent. I had a very difficult time letting my team members fail since I felt it would reflect poorly on me as a manager, and so I completed work that they should have been doing. Since then I have left management and become a senior member of technical staff, where I am much happier.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
At least a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related field such as Mathematics or Electrical Engineering is required for a position as a Software Engineer in a major corporation. Many of my co-workers have master’s or doctorate degrees. Graduating from a prestigious university is definitely a plus, as is work experience gained through a paid internship or co-op position.

The skills that help a person succeed in this field include a love of solving puzzles, an ability to think logically, intense concentration and focus and an attention to detail. A software engineer often works on a program with tens of thousands of lines of code and needs to retain a mental image of how the code is laid out and interconnected, so an ability to think in abstract terms and an exceptional memory are also important. People who don’t enjoy math “word problems” or who aren’t good at solving them would probably not succeed in this field.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
I constantly recommend my line of work to bright young people. It is a stable industry that will continue to grow in the coming years. The work remains interesting over the long term and pays well.

If I had a friend that was considering my line of work, I would assess their education and skills and try to honestly let them know if I thought they would be a good fit for the job.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
Because I have been with my current company for more than 20 years, I receive 5 weeks of paid time off. I find that this is enough. Because of the pressure of my work schedule, I rarely take more than a week of vacation at a time. This is also true for many of my coworkers.

Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?
The biggest myth about Software Engineers is that they are “geeks.” While it’s true that some of them fit the stereotype of a guy with poor social skills who’s good with computers and loves science fiction, there are a wide variety of other types of people who are employed as Software Engineers and are good at their jobs.

Does this job move your heart? If not, what does?
My job provides satisfaction though I can’t say that it moves my heart as much as it once did. A few years ago I began writing as an outlet on the side, and I would have to say that moves my heart more. I think that anyone who works in the same field for several decades needs to expand their horizons and try something new in order to stay vital and connected.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I would retire from Software Engineering and work full time as a freelance writer or book author.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I think I’ve been able to succeed in a male-dominated field because I have always been academically competitive. Also, I grew up with three brothers and no sisters, so I am used to being outnumbered by men. I came of age in a time when “feminist” was not a bad word, so I wasn’t afraid to stand up for my rights when I felt they were bring denied.

Finally, I never felt that I had to choose between being feminine, having a family and working as a Software Engineer. It’s possible to have all of these things at once.

  • Rosa C.

    As a female studying computer science, I can definitely relate to the discrimination faced in this male-dominated field. Although I’m sure the male-to-female ratio has decreased since 30 years ago, and there are many programs in place to encourage women in tech, discrimination like that is still prevalent.

    When I was in high school I was part of a STEM magnet program, which was around 70% male. Even within that program, girls were discouraged from taking classes in certain subjects because we were told they were “too hard” for us. One of the strangest things that many boys in my year said throughout high school was that “all girls in STEM do biology because it’s the easiest science.” We heard things like this all through high school, and sure enough, by the time senior year rolled around, most of the girls opted out of electives in physics and computer science, choosing biology instead.

    Whether the stereotype was originally just an observation or not, it definitely negatively affected a lot of the female students, myself included. Despite enjoying my computer science classes and taking computer science electives throughout high school, when college applications rolled around, I didn’t believe I was qualified to study computer science at the college level. Fortunately, my mother and a great teacher encouraged me to study what I wanted, and I am now in my 2nd year of my computer science bachelor’s degree.

    Reading stories like this of women thriving in tech despite obstacles and discrimination is definitely heartwarming and encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and I hope to one day be looking back on 30 years of experience in software engineering as well!

  • Brandon Chung

    Being ostracized always impedes an individual’s performance. However, this article portrays that despite any obstacles one may run into, perseverance and strong will both enable an individual to succeed in almost any circumstance.

  • Brittany K.

    I found this article to be extremely empowering and strongly relatable to myself and many others I am sure; whether someone is a minority, a woman, or has experienced some type of background they must overcome, he/she can relate to this dedicated woman’s story. I myself am a young, Caucasian woman who has found herself up for the challenge in a male dominated field of Computer Science. I have completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and will be earning a Master of Science degree in Applied Mathematics to apply my knowledge in national cybersecurity. While I have yet to taste the hardships that will come with starting my career in government, my past experiences have already prepared me for what I am to look forward to.

    Beginning as early as High School, I was already attending college math courses and had realized my interest in software programs; I enrolled in my school’s AutoCAD class as I thought it would be quite interesting to apply Math and Computer Science in Architectural Engineering (not your average high school girl’s dream). On the first day, I walked in the class and was immediately judged being the only female in the class. This didn’t bother me, and as the year went on I was consistently earning the highest grades in the class. It’s not that the guys in my class were rude or mean, they just didn’t include me in their group work or conversations; although I would occasionally get comments that the teacher only gave me high grades because he was “interested” in me. This was by no means true; I worked hard for my grades.

    Fast forward to college, when I double majored in Math and Computer Science and yet again I was faced with a male-dominated environment. Because my first programming language course involved a lab, my class was to meet in the computer lab once a week to complete a weekly assignment. Often, some of the male students in my class would offer to work with me, and I was flattered; like the woman in this article I was naive to their personal interest in me, since they would try to do the entire project alone and never even ask for my input though were supposedly working together. I wish I would have had the courage to speak to my professor with this concern like this woman who was brave enough to go to her Human Resources department.

    While I’m sure a career in the government will be more civilized since woman are now being recognized for their equal potential to that of men, nothing will compare to walking into a classroom full of male students in my college Computer Science course and the professor politely saying, “Sweetie, I think you’re in the wrong class, can I help you find your way?” This woman is truly motivational that my future will not include having to sacrifice between being feminine, having a family, and being successful in a male-dominated career.

  • Ashley Marquie Albrecht

    Being a woman in a primarily male industry is extremely complicated. I have experienced many sexual harassment situations simply being a receptionist in the field. Many do not believe it when it is reported and simply ignore it and I am glad she was strong enough to quit that job and move on. I can completely understand the frustration in that topic, though following on with the career is the best option. Not all companies will allow the sexual harassment and I am very lucky to work in a woman owned business.

  • Ravena Kerur

    This interview of a female software engineer represents the prevalent obstacles that women or many of different races may face consistently. This woman instantly becomes a beacon of hope with her strong presence of fearlessness, confidence, and poise when dealing with the discrimination she faces in her workplace.

    Being an Indian female, this article truly hits close to home. As I carve the path to my future career, college has always emphasized one thing about ethnicity and diversity; that it will benefit you greatly in your years at school and also that future universities and future employers will value you much more with your cultural background and individuality. While all of these things may be quite true, what may be forgotten, at times, is the struggles and discrimination that we may face. This interview sheds some light on these struggles, and it inspires me that this woman overcame these obstacles with such grace, and succeeded so well. This woman furthermore proves that there is no measure of success based on gender or ethnicity. I commend her and strive to obtain her level of courage and confidence.

  • KB

    You’re story is quite inspiring, and I applaud your perseverance. I took interest in the topic myself because I would also like to go into Software Engineering. However, I was not expecting to read about such adversity in the field, even with the apparent uneven male-to-female ratio. It is sad to still see so much discrimination in our society today. However, I am glad that you remained confident and chased your goals. Intelligence has no gender, shape, size or color. There may be “researched correlations”, however, success in a field is mostly weighed on the passion, determination and hard work of the individual. There are plenty of female engineers in my class that are dominating as far as skill and grade point; I look to them as not necessarily competition, but motivation.

  • Roger V

    I salute you for your courage and tenacity to succeed in a male dominated field is not easy. You are a role model not just for women but for anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone and try something different. As a male who will be pursuing a degree in computer engineering, I am encouraged by your interview to make a difference in my life and in the lives of others.

  • Breanna H.

    As a Native American woman currently working to obtain a business degree I found this piece intriguing and it offers a brief look into some obstacles that may transpire in my career. I have been in the work force since I was a sophomore in high school; working an assortment of jobs from retail to business development. Personally I have not experienced these discriminations but I commend the interviewee’s insight and fortitude found within this story. Presently I am working full time along with being a full time student.

    In the piece they mention working with multi-national colleagues as well as having limited communication. I can relate to this with the retail store I work at, it has an extremely diverse ethnic atmosphere of not only their employees but similarly their customers. This shows the many traditions and beliefs found amoung the different cultures, and learning how to approach each as an individual. There is also both strong male and female presence throughout the store’s management. Another one of my previous positions was at a call center where we worked with multiple locations including those found in Central America. Personally I helped construct schedules along with feedback to associates in our Honduras location with the only means of communication via phone or email. There I gained the understanding the importance of framing and providing constructive feedback.

    The recommendation of working with a co-op or some type of internship is something that I would like to pursue next fall. By participating in one of these I hope to gain more knowledge related to my degree as well as gain experience that I can use to obtain a related job succeeding graduation.

    The pieced concludes with the possibility of having it all and not deciding between being Feminine, having a Family or having a career. This statement shows the interviewer’s relentless attitude to find her hold in the business field while she effectively utilized her skills to find a place that meets most of her needs. In my opinion with a positive attitude and a great work ethic to match anything can be overcame and achieved!

  • Ryan Best

    An amazing story to be sure. I empathize with her feeling as if doors were being shut in her face. Growing up I never hung around with the other African American kids. My mother pushed education very forcefully, and for good reason, in my family. I became a ‘smart kid’.

    But growing up all the ‘smart kids’ weren’t African Americans. They were mostly Caucasian and Asian. African Americans always have stereotypes and my ‘smart kid’ friends would always apply them to me because after all I was the only African American kid they hung out with. ‘Smart kids’ hang out with ‘smart kids’ after all. Birds of a feather and the like. But I clearly never lived up to those stereotypes and they knew it, but it never seemed to stop them. It was, and is, a frustrating experience to go through. No matter what hard classes I take or prestigious schools I get into I’m still treated as if I’m going to steal everything I see. Which is just silly as I’d never be dumb enough to get caught (jokes).

    Regardless, just like this lady, the lesson to be taken from her story is a lesson of perseverance. She put her nose to the grindstone and made big things happen. We all could take note and follow suit. I know I will.

  • Michael M

    As a mechanical engineering student at the University of Michigan, her experiences with software engineering really mirrors my introductory class in computer science. Although my experiences certainly cannot compare, I feel the same way about coding. Doing projects from “Hello World” to more complicated games challenged me to think logically and develop problem solving skills. It also helped me gt rid of the stigma that coding was only for the exceedingly “nerdy” or kids who are really interested in computers. Taking a coding class certainly helped me develop my problem solving skills for the future and I feel that everyone should consider taking such a class to expose themselves to another way of thinking.

    I am glad to see that she was able to succeed in such a male dominated field and more women will be able to learn from this story and break the stigma that we all have with women in engineering.

  • alan ramirez

    When I was only 13 years old, I moved to Texas straight from Mexico and I didn’t know anything about American culture. It took me a while to get to know most of the things I should know before actually engaging in a public middle school and high school, which was pretty difficult at the time, back in 2003, and even thou doesn’t seem like too long ago, people were mean and disrespectful to me just because I wasn’t an American.
    Right now I attend to UTSA in the College of Architecture. We are not engineers but we certainly use many software like AutoCAD which I know engineers use to design and since I have more experience than the average students at my program, funny thing, I now help those Americans that used to make fun of me because I wasn’t an American.
    Every person that have been through some kind of discrimination, I’m sure they can relate to this experience, even thou they story don’t involve anything about engineering or anything similar but just by the fact they have been through that experience, it automatically connects with everyone else that had gone through something like that.
    I really take pride on the minorities that somehow manage to rise above all majorities and putting up the example that everyone need at certain point in their lives.

  • Melesio Hernandez

    As a freshman in college and a committed student seeking a major in systems engineering, I have noticed a variety of people in the engineering field express uniqueness in many different ways. Viewing the major from a stereotypical standpoint, many people associate an engineer as a nerd who spends countless hours doing math problems and doing homework.

    Although it is true, the group of aspiring engineers I socialize with spend many hours doing math homework, we also very much enjoy life just as much as anyone else. We enjoy countless conversations of innovative ideas that allow all of us to strive off each other’s thoughts and ideas. If anything, we enjoy life through the knowledge we attain making sense of the world around us.

    With the way I perceive life now I wouldn’t take back my choice in striving to become a systems engineer. Just as the author of the text, I have made my goal one that involves being an educated graduate who will attain a career in systems engineering creating more efficient and accessible systems for people or even computers. The ability to be different and create change is what truly attracts me to my profession.

  • As a male in engineering, living on a computer-science floor
    at Iowa State University, I totally agree with her analysis of the status of
    females in computer-intensive fields. There are zero women (that I know of) in
    the Computer Science learning community, I have met zero female computer
    engineers in my engineering classes, and it’s true that the female engineers
    tend to be socially separated from the males.

    Some women, however, make lemonade out of lemons. Many
    females use their minority status to network and create stronger bonds between
    themselves. WISE, ASWE, and a few other organizations dedicated to female
    engineers help them network, enjoy fun activities and events, and do whatever
    else it is women do when men aren’t around. While male engineers do male things
    in their free time, these women find ways to do women things with fellow female
    engineers, even when there are far fewer numbers of female engineers.

  • This software engineer pointed out something very true relating
    to computer engineers in general: while there are many Star Wars fanatics,
    there are also many jocks and musicians thrown in the mix. This, honestly,
    allows for awesome mixing of talent. At engineering events, we find people who
    are very nerdy and love to write code, throw together a website, run the sound
    booth, etc. while there are other extraordinary individuals who compose music
    in their free time. Some people are passionate about airsoft guns and choose to
    create an airsoft club that recruits “nerdy” engineers to make the SolidWorks
    file that they send to the lab to make a 3D model of.

    So if you’re scared you’ll be excessively anything when
    going into engineering, unless that anything is you hate math, then your fears
    are likely over-amplified by the nerdy hype surrounding engineering.

  • Jose B.

    As a software engineering student, I can completely relate to her story. I have never felt such determination and drive from a minority in the field.

    I am in the middle of my undergraduate degree and have nothing but respect for all the engineers I had the pleasure of meeting. I am also a minority and I really want to meet her one day to get pointers for my career.

  • A. Nikolic

    This article is an excellent testimony to all who have been taken advantage of in the work place, academic setting, or elsewhere. Personally, I have witnessed and experienced situations in which those with a position of power would insincerely provide opportunities to young college students and graduates with ulterior motives. It is commendable that she left her position in the unjust workplace to instead take a position in a more diversified company. This is a lesson for everyone, including myself, who will be starting new careers. This article not only serves as a warning of what to avoid in a workplace, but also what should be sought after. A diverse workplace is a sign of a strong company that consists of innovation due to the array of perspectives and experiences each employee has to offer. In this type of environment, one has much more gain from one’s colleagues and overall company structure.

  • I completely agree with the author on everything she says in this article. Although I haven’t faced discrimination, I am empathetic toward her situation and see what she is facing. I am a software engineering major myself, and even in the classroom, the dominating force consists of students from China and India.

    Being in a classroom filled with students who speak English as a second language creates a barrier between them and I. It suddenly became much harder to communicate and work with other students while completing group projects. Communication is a key ingredient when it comes to being successful in anything in life, and it is not the easiest in the software field.

    Even after seeing all of these obstacles, at the end of the day, I still love what I do. I wouldn’t trade my major for the world. Debugging a piece of code, solving a part of a puzzle, nothing can compare to these thrills of the everyday life of a programmer.

  • Aaron

    I can relate to this woman in the way of me being an outcast in school most of the time but still having the will to do what I believe in and want to accomplish, I will attend the U of A in October as a freshman and will major in Information Systems and Technology and hopefully work with Sony’s Network team even though they are in a decline currently, I still believe this company has what it takes to come out on top.

  • Barry V.

    I can 100% relate with the discrimination feelings she went through as a woman in the IT field. I’m not a woman, but as an African American I feel similar judgements are made towards me. I’m glad she continued her goals.

  • Jackson Novel

    I really respect the courage and the integrity she kept during her toughest times. She inspires not only female engineers but also to all the engineers who really want to become better problem solvers.

    I am an electrical engineer and I have worked as a software engineer in test. I really enjoyed working as a part of software development team. She reminds me of Andy. Andy, a female software engineer was senior to me. She always kept her respect, love and support for junior engineer like me. I am so much obsessed with IT because of my job that I am pursuing my graduate degree in Computer Engineering with concentration in Software Engineering.

    I aspire to be a professor, a writer and a technology consultant. Her Story is a great driving factor for me.

  • Brian Tomlinson

    With the computer science and computer engineering industry being my first love, it is always pleasant to read stories of peoples success in what appears to be a cutthroat only the best succeed career. When writing code, one error can leave millions affected and angry! The writer was able to testy to the fact. Now a days in the world of writing code in your home, we can look past discrimination, now anyone can write code in the safety in their own home and sell their ideas online to big or small business. Technology will be the barrier that breaks all diversity barriers.

  • I admire her persistence and dedication despite the difficulties laid out before her. Last year I realized that in order to achieve financial success, one must truly desire it. I have implemented this in my life in many ways and it has worked miracles.

    The day I started telling myself that I WILL succeed everything about me changed. I became productive and I seemed to subconsciously make steps in all the right directions. Before all of this I was just a kid who little to no aspirations. Despite the fact that I was faced with racial pressure due to my asian american background, I was the only person stopping myself from being something.
    Within months I had gotten a job working for the owner of a whole sale representative who owned a shop in a downtown atlanta, which was huge for a high school student whose friends worked in fast food restaurants. I had also managed to arrange an interview with the owner of an engineering firm for myself the following year, despite the fact that I lacked the prerequisites required for the internship.
    Just like she said, “volunteer for high profile assignments.” She understands that success is not handed to you, but that it waits to be achieved.

  • Jonathan Star

    She’s awesome! Even though she encountered discrimination and ostracization in her field she didn’t let it get her down and push her away. She endured and found a new path to success and happiness, most of us will only see it in movies and fairy tales, but she made her happy ending/beginning a reality.

  • Gerardo Ramirez 1

    Nice interview. Her answers sound truthful. As a 22 year old
    Hispanic male, discrimination is something that is not as rare as it should be.
    This will not go away until older generations age-away and people from all
    walks of life start to populate professional careers regardless of gender,
    color and ethnicity. This is why minorities need help achieving their carrier
    goals.

  • The interview questions and answers within this article seem to really illustrate how this programmer lives her life in all aspects. Very in depth regarding diversity present in the work place and what she has done to overcome trials and tribulations.

    As being a caucasian male I may not have experienced some of the more forward hurdles that those with more visible diversities have had to overcome but I can still identify with her struggle. Personally I have a legal background that is unfortunately less than sparkling due to some poor decisions while I was younger. I may not face to everyday racial or gender factors, however, before employment I am subject to a much larger judgement about my job capabilities for irrelevant reasons.

    I am glad to see that in a position within the working world where you are a minority that you are able to overcome challenges. It is great to see someone perceiver and conquer obstacles in stride. Provides a good insight on what sort of outlook you need in life to become and remain successful.

  • This is a very interesting article. I myself am currently studying at University of Phoenix for a Bachelors in Software Engineering. This article gives me a good insight as to what I might be expected to do when I enter this field. Definitely bookmarking this for future reference. 🙂

  • I have been working with computers my entire life, but lack any formal training. I always said I wanted to go to school on my terms and have worked many dead end jobs because I never really grasped what I would go to college for.

    After poking my head around briefly trying to find if there was a college I could attend or even a major that I wanted to strive for I was contacted by the University of Phoenix Admissions Adviser who explained to me that what I wanted was with in my grasp.

    I have spent 13 years since high school doing nothing important with my life and decided it was about time I stepped up to get things done. I talked my way through many things with the adviser and narrowed down that computer programing was something I have little workable knowledge in and would benefit me personally as well as potentially give me a career I could enjoy.

    I am in my fourth week at the University of Phoenix and have been successful thus far, the lay out of the classes and the style of learning is a tremendous help. I only work part time currently, so the financial aspect of the education will be the most trying thing.

  • I found these questions to be quite interesting. It is always very helpful to have an in depth look at someone who has worked in the industry for as long as you have. As a woman myself I found your determination to be quite inspiring. I have often wondered how hard it will be to break into a field that is widely dominated by males. However, I will not let that stop me in my journey to become a successful software engineer. I hope to help change the face of the IT world and want to help educate our young people as to the dangers that technology brings. I think that this is one thing that many people tend to forget. While technology brings convenience into the lives of people globally there is a more imminent threat on the horizon. Security is not advancing as quickly as technology is and this poses a great threat to people everywhere. I hope to be able to work to help security advance along as quickly as technology does.

  • Johnathan Phillips

    I appreciate the interesting interview. I am currently working on my bachelors for software engineering and hope that I’ll be just as successful as yourself. I was amused by the description of resolving issues since I have seen first hand how people are unable to grasp the concept and try to take advatage of those who can.

  • sdavila21

    IT is growing rapid-ally.

  • Noah

    “People who don’t enjoy math “word problems” or who aren’t good at solving them would probably not succeed in this field.”

    This is a load of crap. Word problems are some of my least favorite and I’m pretty mediocre at doing them. Even still I was able to earn a B.S. in computer science and graduate with honors. I hate it when people make blanket statements like this.

  • Cimmy

    Stunning interview. Such relevant questions and spectacular answers. Thanks!! I am a female African American software engineer. I so encouraged by your success. I wish my managers could read it!!

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