How do you inspire more girls to look to a technology career in the future?
Spark their interest in computer science while they’re young, sustain engagement in their teen years and you’ll inspire them to pursue technology careers as adults, says our research with Girls Who Code (GWC).
For the fifth year in a row, Accenture has teamed up with Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization that empowers girls to close the technology gender gap through computing classes and mentorship opportunities.
Meet four Girls Who Code alumna and current Accenture analysts who are driving innovation, creating change in technology and inspiring the next generation of women technologists.
Maleah Maxie, an Application Development Analyst working on a PeopleSoft-based project based in Atlanta.
Selina Sotomayor is a Digital Business Integration Senior Analyst working in data analytics based in San Francisco.
Aysha Qureshi is an Advanced Application Engineering Analyst working as an Integration Developer for a client project based in New York.
Hilary Shea is an Application Development Analyst working on a digital assistant project based in New York.
What first spurred your interest in technology?
Selina: I entered college wanting to be a biology major, but as I started taking computer science classes sophomore year, I became more interested in data analysis and technology.
Maleah: Because my major was so interdisciplinary, I had the opportunity to take a variety of psychology, philosophy, linguistics and computer science courses, and I was intrigued at how all these topics fit into creating human-centered technology.
Aysha: I always loved doing puzzles, but what really sparked my interest in technology was a class called Introduction to Algorithms in my first year of high school.
Hilary: The problem-solving and logic puzzles present in computer science were very intellectually intriguing and inspired me to pursue that as a major.
How has technology impacted your career, and how has that changed over time?
Aysha: When I first started college, my idea of an ideal job was to be a software engineer at a big tech company. As time passed, I realized that in addition to technology, I thoroughly enjoy having personal connections with people and learning the business side of things.
“Consulting was the balance between tech and business.”
Selina: Technology has allowed me to uncover insights from data that provide value for the clients I work with.
Why is it important that more women enter the technology field?
Maleah: Excluding women, and any other group of people that have been disproportionately unsupported in pursuing careers in the technology field, makes innovation and growth near impossible. If the same people are all contributing the same ideas, there are no opportunities for new perspectives stemming from experiences only women or other marginalized groups may have encountered.
Tell us about your experience with Girls Who Code.
Maleah: After working in the Atlanta office as a teaching assistant in summer 2016, I saw the importance of being in a classroom without facing barriers based on your gender, especially at a younger age.
Selina: The young women I worked with as a teaching instructor were inspirational. Their ideas and projects addressed issues that our current technology does not, proving exactly why we need more women in technology.
Aysha: I attended the second Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program in summer 2013, and one of the greatest lessons I learned was the idea that anything is possible when you’re willing to learn. This helped me today because I push myself to take on projects that I am interested in even though I don’t necessarily have all the skills.
Hilary: I was inspired to apply to Accenture after attending an Accenture-sponsored field trip for all 20 GWC Summer Immersion Programs in 2016. At the event, leadership from Accenture and GWC and women from Accenture Labs presented fascinating technology demos.
Once I joined Accenture, I was eager to give back to Girls Who Code, which played a large role in inspiring me to pursue my career in technology and bringing me to Accenture. Girls Who Code provides the opportunity for girls to learn more about a field that I didn’t see as an option for myself in high school, and I now cannot envision my life without it.
What are some of the barriers, real or perceived, for women in the technology field? How have you addressed these challenges?
Aysha: One of the main challenges I experienced working in the technology field is trying to get over “imposter’s syndrome”. Throughout college, I would feel self-doubt and believed I didn’t belong or simply was not smart enough.
I think what helped me overcome this challenge was my experience as a summer analyst at Accenture. The consultant I worked with told me that the purpose of this internship was for me to learn.
Realizing that I was holding myself back from truly learning and getting the full experience of the internship, I asked as many questions as I possibly could. Since joining the company full time, this has saved me a lot of time in understanding requirements and has given me more clarity on tasks before I start them.
What do you like most about working at Accenture?
Aysha: I love the fact that we have a lot of diversity and women in senior positions in Accenture Technology.
Maleah: I like Accenture’s commitment to providing answers to complex solutions.
Selina: I love that Accenture is truly an inclusive, diverse company. I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with a diverse group of people across many of my projects.
What advice would you give to other women pursuing a career in technology?
Selina: The founder of GWC, Reshma Saujani, says, “We are raising our boys to be brave, but our girls to be perfect. And this is holding us back.”
Throughout my career, I try to push myself outside of my comfort zone, which I encourage everyone to do. Even though this means that you may fail at first, you will grow both personally and professionally.
Aysha: Know that you belong. Ask questions, no matter how big or small.
Maleah: Accepting the possibility of making a mistake is so important, because it allows us to make the mistake, learn from what went wrong and improve upon your skills, something our male peers have likely already been conditioned to do.
Hilary: Take the leap. You can succeed in anything you put your mind to!
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