It’s never too late to learn technology skills, and you don’t need deep expertise to be good at a technology job. That said, I’m a big proponent of starting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills at a young age, especially for girls.
My own story illustrates the benefits of early STEM training. When I was 8 years old, I read an article about flying trains in a children’s magazine, and I wrote a letter to the editor. That editor wrote me back and encouraged my interest in STEM. In eighth grade, I actually created a science fair project testing the durability of plastic, which helped me decide to go into engineering.
I had enormous support in high school and college from my teachers and parents. My experience inspires me to help young girls interested in STEM careers. There are so many cool digital and technology career options today.
I recommend that girls shadow their parents, aunts, uncles and other adults they know who are actually working in technology fields. They really can get a feel for what it is like.
In my work, I focus on digital, mobile technology, and the Internet of Things. We support Blue 1647, an entrepreneurship and technology innovation center in Chicago that fosters economic and workforce development. Accenture partners with Blue 1647 on The 1919 Women in Technology initiative, which connects professional women in technology and helps them create, develop and innovate. It’s essential to bring together like-minded people to create a sense of community and have spaces to have important conversations.