Encouraging career advice from women in tech
Published on March 8, 2021 in Working at Geotab by Melanie Serr | 7 minute read
Table of contents
- Women in tech encourage STEM graduates to be bold
- Meet some of our fantastic women in tech
- Why STEM is great
- Sources of inspiration
- What advice would you give to other women interested in pursuing a career in the tech industry?
- What has been the most exciting project you worked on?
- What changes do you see happening in your field?
- Women and the future of STEM
- Supporting the next generation of women in tech
Get career advice from Geotab’s women in tech. Discover statistics and personal advice from women in the workplace.
Stop and consider these statistics on women in tech. Globally, only 29% of senior management positions are held by women. For Fortune 500 companies, only 37 of the 500 companies have female CEOs; this number is considered an all-time high. In Canada, the Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that only 25% of Vice President positions and 15% of CEO positions are held by women.
In addition, the 82% pay gap women face in comparison to men is exponentially increased when it comes to race. According to American Association of University Women (AAUW), as recently as 2020, the pay gap for women of color can reach as low as 55%.
These statistics alone are enough to make anyone discouraged. However, at Geotab these numbers are not holding anyone back. In 2020, Geotab was recognized as one of the Best Workplaces for Women. Geotab was also named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for 2020.
We have women working across the range of departments, including Solutions Engineering, Development, Technical Services, Admin, Sales, Marketing and Operations. Our Business Intelligence team is over one quarter female.
The women in tech at Geotab are doing amazing things in automotive IoT and connected vehicle technology and are leading by example for the next generation of female workers. In fact, when asked about their experience, they are excited about the work they are doing and have positive encouragement for others looking to join the field.
See also: Meet Charlotte Argue: EV champion and Geotab woman in tech
Women in tech encourage STEM graduates to be bold
To learn more about the amazing things women are doing at Geotab, we asked a group of female employees to share their views and provide some advice for new graduates.
Overwhelmingly, the Geotab women in tech encouraged others to jump right in and be bold when seeking a job in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Meet some of our fantastic women in tech
The women in tech interviewed for this article are:
- Caitlin Johnson, HR Enablement Partner
- Emilie Corcoran, Software Developer
- Gordana Jekic Dzunic, Software Developer
- Hilary Becker, Customer Success, Team Lead
- Sabina Martin, Solutions Engineering Manager
- Stephanie Voelker, Vice President, Enterprise Sales Solutions
Why STEM is great
Many agreed that they love the sense of challenge and continuous learning of working in STEM and the tech industry. Gordana Jekic Dzunic, a Software Developer working on data visualization tools says that “being involved in development, innovation, research and discovery” is the best part about working in IT.
Caitlin Johnson, HR Enablement Partner, says the exciting part about her role is learning about new emerging technologies, big data, open source tools and different academic fields, as well as leveraging technology for her own work in recruiting.
Challenge and variety
“I love daily challenges, and the fact that every day is different. I'm also learning new stuff every day.” — Emilie Corcoran
“Rewards come with challenges. I have never been more professionally satisfied than when a program I wrote actually worked as designed.” — Gordana Jekic Dzunic
“The industry never stands still, there is always something to keep up with, learn a new trend of technical skills that are of value. There's a fantastic sub-culture of people in STEM that is challenging to tap into, but offers the opportunity to meet a diverse group of brilliant people, passionate about IT.” — Caitlin Johnson
Creativity and making an impact
“Using technology to make clients safer, more efficient and more economical.” — Stephanie Voelker
“Software developers do much more than develop software. They become involved in understanding customer needs, they are generating revenue via application sales, they make sure software works every time.” — Gordana Jekic Dzunic
“I think technology is cool. I love that my role combines my love of technology and my outgoing personality type.” — Hilary Becker
Sources of inspiration
Inspiration can come from all places, from teachers or even family. Geotab’s Vice President, Enterprise Sales Solutions, Stephanie Voelker, has worked on an incredible range of projects in her career, ranging from experience in the space industry to telematics deployments for some of the largest Fortune 500 businesses in the United States. Voelker was inspired by her father, an industrial engineer.
Encouragement from teachers
“My grade 11 and 12 physics/calculus prof inspired me. He always insisted that I try more difficult problems than what was required, and taught me to enjoy challenges rather than get frustrated by them.” — Emilie Corcoran
Following your own path
Some women in STEM are self-starters who follow their own interests:
“From a very young age, I was interested in gadgets. When we got any new piece of technology at our house, I read the instructions because I wanted to know what it could do. So from a very young age, I have been teaching people how to use technology.” — Hilary Becker
“In high school, I had a passion for science, maths and art and thought that engineering would be a good choice.” — Sabina Martin
“I was always interested in computers and what I can do with them. When I got my first computer, I was so impressed with how it worked, even though it had such bad configuration compared to computers today. In comparison to my friends in that period, who used computers to play games, I was more interested to find out how programs work, how they are developed and, eventually, how I could develop them one day.” — Gordana Jekic Dzunic
What advice would you give to other women interested in pursuing a career in the tech industry?
All of the women surveyed had incredibly positive things to say about pursuing a career in tech. Hilary Becker, Customer Success, Team Lead, whose industrial engineering program had a ratio of 1 women to 9 men, enthusiastically encourages others to follow their passions. One of Becker’s favorite quotes is from Henry Ford, who said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”
Go for it
Aim high and follow your aspirations. A career in STEM can bring great reward to those who dream big.
“Be strong and go for it! Don't let anything hold you back and don't be terrified by what the stats say, you are capable of whatever you put your mind to.” — Sabina Martin
“Go for it! I have been in male dominated industries my entire career. The only thing limiting you is your mindset. Get the skills and use them.”— Stephanie Voelker
“If you’re interested in being on the precipice of discovery, research, innovation and development, it doesn’t matter which gender you are. As long as you do a job you love and you can be yourself, a low percentage of women in STEM doesn’t mean anything.” Gordana Jekic Dzunic
“I'd give advice to everyone — women or men — interested in STEM to keep working at it. Even if you seem to be at a dead-end on a problem, hard work outlasts intelligence!” — Emilie Corcoran
“If you have a passion for anything STEM, go for it!” — Caitlin Johnson
What has been the most exciting project you worked on?
One of the greatest parts about a career in STEM is the diverse range of projects that you can work on.
Here are some other examples given:
- Collision investigations for the space shuttle program. (Stephanie Voelker)
- Creating a fully functional hand-held, 12 lead ECG as a final year capstone project — participating with a team to design hardware and software and even started creating algorithms for auto-diagnosis. (Emilie Corcoran)
- Designing a prototype for a device that detects when drivers are falling asleep at the wheel. This used an EEG sensor to analyze the driver's brainwaves to determine level of consciousness. (Sabina Martin)
- Teaching people how to use software to benefit their business. (Hilary Becker)
What changes do you see happening in your field?
“There will be more data captured about what is going on in the mobile assets taking in all the sensor data and making it actionable to fleets is the next phase in our industry.” - Stephanie Voelker
“Growth! Geotab and the telematics/electronic logging device market are experiencing tremendous growth. I am so glad to be a part of making that happen!” - Hilary Becker
“Tech is quickly becoming a part of every aspect of life. It becomes more and more relevant to have a background in STEM.” - Emilie Corcoran
“In the field of software development, there are new programming languages, new frameworks, new software useful not only for customers, but useful for us developers, too. Open source software is growing rapidly, machine learning is heated up again… Putting the customers first became a trend, much more time is dedicated in researching and talking to customers.” - Gordana Jekic Dzunic
Women and the future of STEM
The future is rosy for workers in tech and STEM. Job market predictions show growth in STEM occupations. These jobs support innovation and competitiveness on the world stage.
In their quarterly occupational outlook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs in STEM will grow to 9 million by 2022 (representing an increase of one million jobs over ten years).
The occupations expected to have the fastest employment growth are:
- Information security analysts
- Operations research analysts
- Biomedical engineers
- Petrochemical engineers
In the automotive and fleet industries in particular, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and self-driving technology are bringing new innovation and opening the door to exciting new areas of study and work. In January 2020, Geotab reached 2 million subscribers worldwide.
Supporting the next generation of women in tech
There is more work to be done. The rate at which women leave the tech industry is more than double that of men. You can find many articles discussing the reasons why women are discouraged from careers in STEM and about ongoing gender stereotyping in schools and organizations.
To improve the situation, experts recommend changing stereotypes through positive female role models in and out of the classroom and mentoring. Encouragement can make all the difference.
Becker notes, “I graduated from a private all-girls school whose motto was ‘Building Empowered Women Leaders of the Future.’ They encourage everyone to live up to their potential and become whoever they wanted to be.”
Providing girls — and boys — opportunities to use tech hands-on in school is also essential to cultivating interest in STEM.
Another benefit to STEM education is that the skills learned, namely problem solving, investigation, analysis and communication, are highly transferable and in demand. Young people can carry their training with them to find work in different industries or occupations.
Martin says, “Women are becoming more educated and I hope to see continuous growth in this field. My university had a women in engineering club and we held events at high schools and worked with girl guides to engage them in STEM related activities and there was always positive feedback. I hope the youth continue to be educated and supported to join this field, if they are passionate about it.”
Why is it more important to increase the number of women in tech and STEM fields? For one, jobs in STEM pay more. STEM workers earn nearly twice as much in comparison to non-STEM workers according to the Education Commission of the States. This wage gap affects the financial security and well-being of women, also impacting their family and children.
We can all play a part in our own lives to encourage women. Whether that is through our own professional development, by collaborating and cheering on others, getting out there or mentoring girls and women to make a difference and change those statistics.
Interested in working for Geotab? Visit careers.geotab.com to see our list of current openings.
If you liked this post, let us know!
Melanie Serr is a Senior Manager, Brand Communications for Geotab with an eye on fleet safety and all things tech.
Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.
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