Opening Doors for Women in Technology

Erica Lomax, web project manager with Oregon State's Enterprise Computing Services, networks with students at a workshop for women in technology.
 

Regina Kunkle knew it was time to try something different when she was struggling to find female candidates for open job positions with Fortune 500 company, NetApp, a data center, storage and security software company.

In an effort to make a positive change in her industry and on the futures of young women, Kunkle, NetApp’s Vice President of State and Local Government and Higher Education, brought her message to Oregon State in a workshop for women in technology on October 30th.

“I realized that women were self-selecting out of technology jobs because their impression is that you sit in a corner and program. But that’s not what I do, nor do any of my peers. We travel the world, meet all kinds of people, and solve business problems. How cool is that?” Kunkle said.

Regina KunkleOver the last 4 years, Kunkle has been organizing such events at colleges and universities across the country. She fills a panel with women who have successful careers in technology to demonstrate the many options that are available to new graduates.

“I want students to see the panel and think, ‘I could do this. I could fit in,’” Kunkle said.

It was a message that resonated with many of the offices on campus who partnered on the program including Information Services, the Office of Women and Minorities in Engineering, the College of Business, and the College of Engineering.

Lois Brooks, vice provost for Information Services said, “Other women were instrumental in my career success, offering advice, friendship and mentorship over the years. I'm following in their footsteps by offering this collegiality to the next generation of women, knowing they will be even more successful than our generation has been.”

The panel gave general advice on topics like interviewing and the importance of networking, but also delved into more women-specific issues. One student asked how to deal with situations such as being delegated to tasks like writing when working with a team of men, rather than being asked to contribute to the more technical aspects of the project.

Hannah Adams, recent Oregon State graduate and human factors engineer at Intel, advised learning to be assertive and trusting in the value of your unique perspective.

At the end of the workshop students had an opportunity to interact with the panelists and other audience members who came to network with the students.

Megan Kennedy, a computer science student in the post-baccalaureate program, said it was especially valuable experience for her to interact with women in business since she comes from a background in poultry science.

“I really enjoyed talking to people on a personal level and hearing about their journeys,” Kennedy said.

Kunkle strongly encouraged the women to use the connections that they made at the workshop. “Networking is the way of the world and women are a powerful network among themselves,” she said. “I’ve seen people get jobs through these workshops.”