In August Jama partnered with Women Who Code and hosted a panel of Jamanians titled “Lesson’s Learned in the Tech Industry.” The panel featured Hang Dao (Senior QA Engineer), Kristina King (Support Community Manager), Robin Calhoun (Product Manager), Laura Andrews (Visual Interaction Designer) and Jess Stetson (Solutions Architect) and was moderated by Caterina Paun, Director of the local chapter of Women Who Code.
Women Who Code is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. Their mission is to “connect amazing women with other like-minded amazing women around the globe who unite under one simple notion – the world of technology is much better with women in it.” In an industry historically dominated by men we were thrilled to partner with such an amazing organization and to have five female Jamanian’s share their story about life in the technology industry.
In addition to sharing their insights in the industry our panel spoke openly about some of the challenges of working in a male-dominated field, and what we can do (male and female alike) to foster a workplace that embraces diversity and fosters inclusion. Today we live in a world where women and girls are encouraged to pursue careers in science and technology, but even 15-20 years ago that was not the case. The panel also discussed the importance of groups like Women Who Code (which is open to men and women) and about why diversity and inclusion is critical to an organizations ability to innovate and grow.
“[Groups like Women Who Code] provide a safe place for women to talk about and explore topics that otherwise might be less accessible. Tech is pretty intimidating, especially if, like me, you were told you ‘can’t do it’ when you were in your more impressionable years. Being with like-minded folks who may have faced the same obstacles … it’s good to have the support,” shared Jessica Stetson, Jama Solutions Architect.
Kristina King, our Support Community Manager, spoke about why organizations like Women Who Code are important. “Organizations like WWC are crucial to the long-term success of the tech industry in Portland and beyond. WWC helps bridge the educational gap between genders by offering training and study groups as well as opportunities for networking. Most importantly, WWC is empowering: lady programmers are reminded that they are not alone in their love of tech and coding. At the same time they can set a positive example for younger women who might be considering entering the industry.”
Kristina also shared the her perspective on the importance of diversity and inclusion, “everyone has a mother, sister or daughter, but women need to be recognized for their work apart from their relationship to others. Diversity spurs innovation—if we come from similar backgrounds and circumstances, it’s harder to challenge each other to do better. We need to welcome diversity of all sorts, not just gender, to build, to inspire, and to grow.”
With several of our peer companies in Portland, Jama has committed to taking on the challenge of under-representation of women and communities of color in our industry with TechTown Portland Diversity Pledge. As a community we are also working to support students interested in the fields of science and technology, on October 21 Jama and many of our peer companies are participating in the first annual Portland 4k 4Charity with all proceeds going to Rosemary Anderson High School, a Portland-based community-based alternative high school.