Insights from a Young Woman in Tech

Liana Hotte

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I've been in the workforce for two and a half years and already have a wide range of experiences as a young woman in tech. After getting a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Connecticut, I landed a job in the research and development lab of a camera company. Looking for a new challenge, I decided to make the jump from research to marketing analytics. The difference in environments from each experience were valuable in teaching me about the role of STEM in companies and being a young woman working in a technical role.

Effective Communication is a Science

SmartBear's marketing team is data-driven—it's not unlike a science in that we model lead generation funnels, design A/B tests, and measure the efficacy of marketing campaigns. Working with cross-functional team members who have different priorities, I understand the increased importance of effective communication and concise analytics.

Tone, narrative, and visuals are used by marketers on a daily basis, and I realize they are undervalued in lab environments and generally among STEM fields.

One in Five Women is Not Enough

Only 18 percent of bachelor degrees in physics awarded in 2015 were to women, similar to engineering and computer science. On a personal note, when I graduated from UConn, I was one of only two women to receive a degree in physics. More than half of my current team is female, close to 60 percent. This number is a big difference from my experiences in school and labs. I am pleasantly surprised by the magnitude it has made in my work satisfaction and in my life. Seeing women of different experiences work hard and find success is a factor in why I'm excited and motivated to come to work.

Fear of Failing Holds You Back

Without a doubt, the most valuable lesson I've learned in my professional life has been this: do not fear failure. A core belief of my manager's team is that fear of failure keeps people from trying, experimenting, and taking risks—all of which are key to growing and learning.

The sentiment also rings true as to why there are fewer women in STEM. When I talk with women and girls about STEM, I hear numerous times how they avoided STEM fields as they're afraid of not being good enough, dedicated enough, or smart enough.

I believe that everyone can be a "math person," and that you don't need to live and breathe STEM to be a proud woman in tech. Ultimately, being a woman in STEM isn't actually about being in STEM, but about being unafraid to fail in a space where success isn't guaranteed.

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