A Message to Powerful Women in Tech
When I tell my others that I am an intern at Ericsson, they invariably ask what we do here. My response is almost always a recitation of our current initiatives- how we’re involved in telecommunications, IoT, and the push toward 5G. I can’t speak to specifics because I am not a STEM professional.
I’m finishing my second degree in Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas and starting law school soon. I don’t know how to code, customize a solution, run a program, or even work a computer outside of Word and Adobe. (Can you guess that the Help Desk is my best friend?) I can’t relate to woes of missing a line in code or finding a bug in a big project because I frankly don’t know what that even means.
I work at a tech company, but I work for tech employees. For my entire time at Ericsson, I have been a paralegal intern. I recognize each person’s job title, but I don’t know what their day to day responsibilities are after we hang up the phone. However, I care immensely about what each Ericsson employee does. I started listening to the 5G in 5 Minutes podcasts and realized that what STEM professionals do, even beyond 5G, is miraculous! Ericsson engineers are the reason we have working phones, can play Spotify in our cars via Bluetooth, and can do so many more functionally simple yet technically complicated cool things.
Working at Ericsson has inspired me! As a non-STEM career professional, I’m most inspired by Ericsson’s efforts to recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce, especially when it comes to gender. In fact, Ericsson set a goal for our workforce to be made up of at least 30% women by the year 2020. The Geena Davis Institute (GDI) on Gender in Media’s slogan really speaks to this women in tech movement: if she can see it, she can be it. While GDI’s primary focus is on how girls are portrayed in the media, the slogan is also applicable to the way girls are exposed to industry and tech. If a girl does not have a positive, female role model in STEM, how can she see herself in a career as a computer engineer, a telecom tower tech, or a solutions architect?
For me, when I met strong, female lawyers, I realized I wanted to be one. The legal profession has come a long way in that respect. We are seeing more female lawyers on the screen, in the media, and at our companies. The technology industry has not come as far. I think major technology companies hold an obligation to encouraging girls from a young age to pursue ICT interests. Young girls need to see more female professionals holding leadership roles and making a difference in STEM fields. Otherwise, how can they aspire to make a difference themselves?
This is a call to action. Internally, Ericsson employees can volunteer for events like Girls in ICT Day and Telecom Camp for Kids. Externally, I encourage more female leaders to find local Girl Scout troops to speak to, volunteer at conferences, tell your daughters and your friends’ daughters about tech. With each action we take, we help create the future of tech. That future is female.