The UNH-IOL’s Women in Technology (WIT) group was pleased to hold their first event here at the UNH-IOL on Wednesday, August 27th. WIT is a recently formed group at the lab that I have the pleasure of serving as a co-chair along with Marion Dillon, Home Networking Manager, Home Networking Technologies. The event, titled “Women in Industry”, featured four women panelist, all of whom work in tech related industry jobs. Before I get too far, here is a little background about the WIT group at the lab. WIT was formed to represent and provide support for women who work in the tech field (including the ladies at our own lab). We hope to to attract females to STEM degrees as well as the lab. We want the lab to be an open place where everyone feels welcome and supported.
Our panelists included Bethany Ross, Enterprise Support Technician at DynECT and Founder and Executive Director of Future Tech Women; Kathy DiBella, Principal Software Engineer at OpenText Digital Media Group; Andrea Kokolis, Vice President of Human Resources at Newforma; and our own Chris Dube, Ethernet Switching Protocols and Fibre Channel Lead here at the lab. The panelists offered valuable advice and insight into the working world. We were able to hear directly from the source what hiring managers are looking for in applicants and first hand recollection of the pros and cons of working from home. We learned the value be able to work as part of a team and the rewarding challenges of starting the group Future Tech Women. It was encouraging to hear about each one of the panelist’s background and the journey they went through to get to where they are today.
For me, the most valuable piece of advice I took away from the panel was simply “ask questions”. Being a bit shy, asking questions is always something I have struggled with. I can only think of a few times in college I raised my hand and asked a question. Looking back, that is definitely something I regret. Asking questions without a doubt improves how much you learn and take away from a class. Asking questions streams further than just college, it is also something you need to be successful in any career.
I think the event was a great way to kick off awareness for WIT. If you look up the statistics for women working in the technology field, the numbers are surprisingly low. Less than a quarter of employees working in tech fields are women. I think part of the problem is that a career in technology is not something many women are even thinking about. Maybe they think they will not be good at it, or maybe it is just that no one has suggested it. I know for me it was something that had not crossed my mind. In college, I pursued a business degree and applied to work at the lab with absolutely no networking knowledge. To this day, I am so glad I decided to take a chance and apply. I have gained a copious amount of knowledge in the few years I have worked here. The UNH-IOL provides a valuable learning experience, regardless of your major. I hope with WIT we can encourage and inspire females whose first inclination may not be a career in the technology field.
Michayla Newcombe, IP Operations Manager, IP Technologies