How did you get into technology?
I went to university and chose accounting — I was good with numbers. But I had to take electives, and that gave an opportunity to do software development, and I fell in love with it. It was a level field because software development was so new — we were all learning at the same time. So, I switched majors — I’ve been 20 years in I.T.
It’s not easy for a woman in technology, particularly a woman of color, is it?
I did have my fair share of setbacks and difficulties. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, people hire people who look like them, and that’s typically men. I missed opportunities, but I lifted myself and went to organizations that wanted me to work with them.
Are things changing?
In traditional technology, I don’t think much has changed — there’s a lack of opportunities, lack of flexibility at the work force. In some cases, women feel it’s hard to fit in. But in artificial intelligence, it’s a new area.
Why is that?
It requires individualized work — you’re building models, training those models, building algorithms on your own. You can do it much more on your own time. You just have to be patient and teach the computer model everything it knows — it’s like a baby. It’s not traditional I.T. — you don’t need to be sitting in an office. Some people’s preference is to put children to bed and then do the work. I was one of those people in a previous life.
How have you used your company to help women?
We have 21 people (13 in Australia, eight offshore), of which eight are women. Before Covid, we worked from home two days and in the office three days. I wanted to attract talent, and I wanted to attract women — and dads. Now, we only go into the office on Wednesdays.
When the first woman started with us, I changed the setup in the office. The men worked in the open space and I was in an office. I moved out to the open space so she wouldn’t be alone. We all have to make conscious decisions on ways to move the needle. There are many ways to do it, and that’s my way.
Do you think the fact so many companies worldwide had to go remote may end up being a good thing for women in the work force and especially in technology?