There is a shortage of women in tech. That’s a fact.
Could it be that schools don’t encourage young girls toward a career in computers or math? Could it be the media and its lack of females depicted in tech oriented careers?
Yes, it could be.
Offering more courses in schools, science and tech camps for girls, and profiling women in the profession can all bring more women into the field.
But there is a larger influence in any young woman’s life that could be the most important element in choosing a life in tech or any other profession. That influence is that of the young woman’s parents.
Software Developer and Integrator, Victoria Fry, credits her very supportive parents when asked how she came to choose a career in technology; especially her mother, Suzanne.
Fry is one of three siblings (all females) who have opted for careers in the sciences (One sister is a nurse; the other is in bio-medical research.) Fry chose technology.
At a young age, Fry had an aptitude for math. Her mother, who also works in tech, recognized her daughter’s ability.
“She saw that I enjoyed math and encouraged me,” Fry says.
With her mother’s encouragement, Fry continued to enjoy math throughout elementary and middle school. In high school, she was introduced to computer programming.
“In high school, we didn’t really have too many programming classes,” she says. “We had maybe one and it was kind of the same environment that you see now. There were one or two girls in that class and twenty guys.”
Despite being one of the few women in the class, Fry took that programming class and found her calling.
“I really enjoyed it,” she says. “I loved being challenged to figure things out. That class really got me interested in computer programming, so that’s what I pursued in college.”
In college, the trend of being one of very few women in her computer programming courses continued. But that didn’t faze Fry. However, she did find the interaction between the men and women in her college courses minimal.
“I joke with my husband, because we were in the same computer classes in college. I tell him, ‘you were one of the only men that talked to me in college.’” She laughs.
Throughout college Fry says her parents were there for support. Whenever she was stressed about a test or felt overwhelmed with her studies, her father would remind her to put it all in perspective.
“He’d say ‘relax it will be okay. The world will keep going,” she laughs.
She credits her parents with creating the balance in her life that allowed her to pursue technology and for giving her the confidence to know she would succeed.
Serving Those Who Serve
Today, as a Software Developer and Integrator for USAA, a financial services firm serving U.S. military members and their families, Fry works on the team responsible for USAA’s iPhone and iPad apps.
“I love working at USAA, because of the team atmosphere,” she says. “In mobile development we’re a close knit group.”
Fry works on the maintenance side of the application; correcting any issues that USAA members (clients) see in production. Her integrator title means that she also works with colleagues across USAA’s large organization. At any given time, she may work on other projects as well as the apps.
Fry finds creativity in the problem solving aspect of her work.
“Figuring out problems, implementing a solution, and creating your own solution. I definitely think there’s creativity in that.”
Fry began at USAA directly after graduating from college with a computer science degree. Her mother also works in IT with the organization.
Voted # 2 of COMPUTERWORLD’s ‘Best Places to Work in IT 2014,’ USAA’s campus boasts fitness centers, child care facilities, and Starbucks coffee shops. All great amenities for sure; however, for Fry providing services to military members and their families is most fulfilling.
“At USAA, the mission we are all striving for is serving those who serve,” she says proudly. “And the people who work here have such a wide range of technical knowledge and technical backgrounds. It’s interesting day in and day out working with these people.”
Since the birth of her own daughter, Fry says she has started mentoring through the Aspire community within her workplace. The group plans to mentor young people in the local schools in Texas next year and encourage young women who have an interest in technology.
“Now that I have a child of my own. I definitely see that drive to encourage others.”
Fry is grateful to her mother for recognizing her talents and encouraging her into the technology field.
“I asked her why she chose tech. Why did she go in this direction?” she says. “Her answer was simple. She said she wanted to make a better life for herself and her family. I really admire and respect her for that.”
Fry’s advice to other women who are contemplating a career in tech?
“It’s a male dominated field,” she says, “ but, I think if you have a passion for it, you’re more than capable of standing in a room with nothing but males and holding your own. Don’t be intimidated if you’re the only woman in the room. You’re smart. Go for it!”