Women in Tech

A friend of mine recently gave me a copy of the July edition of Elle, which featured an article on ten top women in the tech field (read it here). This article goes hand in hand with the whole discussion on how more women are needed in STEM fields (for facts on gender inequality in STEM, click here!). The Elle article was very interesting read, and I highly suggest it if you have the time.

 

But, it got me thinking.

 

Most of the women in their top ten list used crowdsourcing to get their idea out. (Crowdsourcing is using contributions from an online community to obtain services, ideas, or content.) The companies these women work for have all begun in the past 15 years; most of them from a start-up aspect.

These companies aren’t the typical ‘buying and selling of a product’ businesses you would usually think of. I don’t know about you, but normally when I hear the words “start-up,” I think of either developing a new app/mobile solution or a self-designed boutique that sells a specific type of goods.

 

However, these start-ups, ranging from a website used to crowdfund healthcare for individuals in developing countries to a widget that helps the Internet run faster, all share one thing in common: they directly benefit Internet users.

 

My real question out of all of this, is: Did the use of the Internet help their companies succeed more because of its anonymity? If someone is pitching an idea to you face to face, you see the person. You notice the gender, the look, the size, the personality of that person head on. First impressions are so very important, and there’s been a lot of talk about women not receiving the amount of respect they deserve in science fields because of the way they look. So, if a woman has the opportunity to boost her company online, is she more likely to be more successful because all the investor can see is pure text, words, about the company? It makes me curious to discern how receptive recipients are to names in situations like that- are people more likely to notice the gender of the founder, given just the name and not a picture?

 

I’m definitely, in no way, saying that these women did not get where they are today without hard work. It takes an incredible amount of skill, talent, and dedication to start something from nothing, and have it be so recognized in a magazine such as Elle. But, if women really do thrive more when gender is taken out of the equation, then we have clearly been underestimating what women are capable of as a world for centuries.

 

It’s only with the prominence of the Internet that this can persist. Companies can be born virtually, websites don’t have to contain true information about the founders of such companies until they grow big enough to warrant it. It’s amazing to me that I can book a room in a bed and breakfast in a little village in Belgium (thanks to AirBnB) with the click of a button. We have the power to transform the world digitally, and Elle recognized these women because they are working to do just that.

 

I do not have a high range of technological skills. I don’t know how to code, although I wish I did. I think everyone should learn how to, seeing as the Internet is not just a “fair weather fad.” It’s not going away any time soon. It is astounding to me what we can accomplish through the use of the Internet, and if gender really is disguised by websites and such, then I’m all the more intrigued.

 

Bottom line: women are amazing and more tech-savvy than you think.

 

P.S. If you have any thoughts about gender and tech, send them my way @ sparklesandsolutions@gmail.com.

I’m Back

It’s been quite a while since I last blogged…about 5 months actually. It’s a weak excuse to say that I didn’t have time, but frankly, I didn’t. So much has happened this past semester at college and I’m eternally grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had.

Within the past 5 months I have:

  • Traveled to Montreal (Oh Canada)
  • Started my first unpaid (big girl) internship
  • Traveled to Chicago
  • Worked harder on a paper than I ever have in my life
  • Failed a test
  • Attended a number of keynote lectures on foreign relations
  • Made some new best friends

I became very focused on doing what I needed to do for my future career. I’m an over achiever, so of course that meant busying myself, striving to be perfect academically. This need for perfection, however, kind of outshone my need to be a real person.

I’ve missed blogging because it kept my reflective side intact. My passionate, exploratory, innovative side faded out this past semester, and my analytical, knowledgeable, determined side won. Neither side is better than the other, yet I know that I need a balance of the two in my life to be efficiently successful.

This summer I will be back at college, taking a few classes and continuing my big girl internship (except this time with real money!) I’ve long realized that the time for relaxing summers is over, not that I ever spent a summer just chilling. I know I have my work cut out for me in the future, but I’m really happy where I am. I’ve finished two years of college, I have two more to go. I haven’t (completely) failed yet, and I don’t plan on it.

I hope to continue blogging, at least once a week throughout the summer. There will probably be more world news mixed in with things I find curious and inspiring. Sorry not sorry, that’s just my focus nowadays. Maybe I’ll even explain where it is I’m working. Who knows.

More to come, I promise.

Now for some photographic proof I actually was there…

IMG_4046[1]

Throwin' what I know in front of the Chicago Bean.

Throwin’ what I know in front of the Chicago Bean.

I love Montreal.

I love Montreal.

End of the Semester Reflections

Wow…where did this week go? Where did this semester go? Yesterday was the last day of classes, which should have been a joyous occasion. I, however, still had an assignment due at midnight, so I wasn’t as free to enjoy the release from classes as much as possible. Finals are upon us here at college, and everyone is super stressed out. The library switches over to being open 24 hours during finals, so I don’t anticipate leaving from here anytime soon (writing this blog is my study break currently).

At the end of every semester, I always end up reflecting on the things I did, what I wish I had done differently, how I could have been a better student, friend, or mentor..whether I want to think about such things or not. (I can’t help it, nostalgia is in my blood.)

Things I wish I had done differently:

    1. Gone to more club meetings. Allocating time efficiently is the most important skill you will learn at college. There will always be more things you want to do than what you have time for. I wish I had kept up attendance at church and Intervarsity, because my faith will always be important to me…but sometimes I let the need for a higher GPA get in the way of that.
    2. Paid more attention (in Macroeconomics). This class is hard…and the lectures were boring, but if we’re being honest here, that is one thing I wish I could redo if we started the semester over again. Hindsight is 20/20, right? But seriously, it’s so easy to go through the motions in college, and not be aware of the changing world around you. Keeping your eyes (and mind) open to everything that’s happening will make you a better citizen and allows you to educate someone else on some issue that is very prevalent in the world today.
    3. Taken leadership. There were some instances where I could have stepped up and taken charge, but I remained in the background, hoping that someone else would do it. I wish I had drawn up my confidence, put on my big girl panties, and taken that chance- but I didn’t. And I regretted it. This is going to be one of my goals for next semester- to be a stronger leader, even if the path looks uncertain and scary.

 

Things I’m proud to have accomplished:

    1. Joined a new club. I joined the International Relations Club this semester, and I could not be more excited. I discovered a new love for Model UN (those conferences are so  challenging and fun that I think I will be addicted to them for life), and this was a huge step out of my comfort zone- one that I’m so glad I took.
    2. Made new friends. I don’t like talking to new people. It’s scary. You don’t know if they’ll like you or not. It’s easy to be awkward in social situations. More often than not, I’ve been in a place where I didn’t know anyone, and sat awkwardly with eyes fixed on my phone, hoping that no one will talk to me while secretly hoping that I would be able to make a friend, somehow, through this telepathic communication I dreamed of. But, this semester I’ve worked on that personal skill of reaching out and making a new friend. And it has paid off in extraordinary amounts.
    3. Spent an entire day not doing homework. I’m one of those people who always has that itch to study- anytime, anywhere. This semester I spent one Saturday not studying at all. I didn’t open a textbook, I didn’t edit a paper, I didn’t think about the assignments I had to do the next day. It was so relieving and I’m so glad I spent that time to recharge myself. I need to remember to do this more often.

 

I have now (almost) finished 3 out of 8 semesters here at college. Only 5 remain, and I’m constantly afraid I’m wasting precious time. All I need to remember is that almost everything you do in college is preparing you for the future. Whether it’s studying, making new friends, gaining personal development skills- everything will pay off in the end, so you can’t really waste time. I’m content with what I did this semester, even if I do have regrets. The benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Therefore, it has been a positive experience (a little econ humor there..)

If you are like me and just finished classes and finals are looming nearer and nearer, congratulations and good luck! No matter what grade you get, at the  end of the day if you’re happy, that’s all that matters.

Now I’m off to study more. And more. And more. But, I’m happy with that. 🙂

 

A Pinterest Perspective

Hello again!

 

Hope your Monday wasn’t as long as mine felt- midterms are quickly approaching here at the College and it’s getting extra stressful (another cup of coffee please!).

 

However, amidst all the stress and cramming, I finally feel like I have some sort of time management on my life. I am definitely operating at max capacity, but I’m no longer swimming in stress. I give myself a due date for everything, even including when to start thinking about a certain test or paper. I know it sounds trivial, but that alone is super helpful when I don’t have to think about that paper on Frost until tomorrow. This type of schedule allows me to leave 30 minutes of free-me time each night before I go to bed. Sure, I could sleep that extra 30 minutes, but this time lets me decompress and refocus for the next day.

 

I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed Pinterest until today. It can seem like a waste of time, pinning away pictures of everything you could possibly want, variations of a future home you most likely will never have; you can even plan your perfect wedding without ever leaving your bed. To many mothers’ standpoints (like mine), I could be doing something more productive.

But Pinterest is perfect for stressed out, type A individuals like me.

pinterest 2

 

Pinterest works like a bulletin board. You see a picture of a product, quote, recipe, workout, etc that you like, and you pin it onto a virtual bulletin board you have created (preferable with a cool title) so that you can go back to that board and see the conglomeration of all the pins you’ve pinned since day one.

 

It is precisely that act of compartmentalizing things that I want or like into little boxes (or boards) that I find so liberating. Pinterest acts as a tool to organize my thoughts, it allows me to sort out the thoughts/images in my head and place them in the appropriate box.

 

Taking a 5 minute Pinterest break when you are overstressed or trying to study really difficult material can help you organize your thoughts and learn to categorize better. I’m no psychology student, but this makes sense to me.

 

Pinterest is like a puzzle. Categorizing images is just practice for categorizing the information you need to learn in your classes. If there was a game kind of like a reverse Jeopardy, where you had to put the vocabulary words and definitions back into their respective categories, I bet I could learn the information even better than I learn it now.

 

But those are just a few thoughts that I had while studying (and taking a Pinterest break). I mean, Pinterest is great if only for the sheer number of pictures of baby animals you can find on it. I’m a huge fan.

kitten pinterest blog

A winking kitten, courtesy of a quick Pinterest search!

 

So think about it! Do you think Pinterest is a way to practice studying and compartmentalizing information or just a way to distract yourself from the big problems of reality? Let me know!

 

I hope your Tuesday is super duper!!

Long Days and Longer Schedules

It’s been a long, long time.

Recruitment ended a week ago (YAY NEW MEMBERS!!) but I’m still struggling to catch up.

In order to stay on top of my schoolwork and other activities, I have to sacrifice sleep.

I thought that after recruitment was over I could go back to a normal sleeping schedule, normal eating schedule, and finally going back to the gym (I miss the gym).

But alas!

It is hard to instill new habits in yourself when you’re used to running your body and mind into the ground. I am the biggest abuser of this. The constant struggle to not be over-scheduled is always looming on me. I’m working really hard this semester to combat it, or to at least trick myself to think I’m combating it, but I’m not doing a super hot job.

(I haven’t had time to blog..that’s how bad I am at it…I tried to blog in the middle of Macroeconomics, but my friend admonished me for it…)

I really wish I could blog more than I do. I miss blogging so badly, and I have tons of ideas for posts, I just don’t have enough time in the day to write them. (My mind goes into hyperdrive and then collapses a lot recently..)

But!

To end on a more positive note than the failings of my self created system, I got to see Rend Collective Experiment live. !!!!!!!!!

It was the happiest night of my life. Rend Collective is an Irish folk Christian band. Like Mumford and Sons, but Christian themes in their songs. Seeing them live was less of a concert and more of a huge worship service for two hours. I had not felt as overjoyed there as I had been ever before. It made me realize that I want to praise God that fervently all of my days. Except yeah, it is hard when I plan my days, not leaving enough time for Him.

I’m working on that.

I will always be working on that, I think.

I hope you have had a better past two weeks than I have, and have a blessed Monday!

P.S. Here’s one of their songs… they just make me so happy! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDiETOLBvxA

 

Fly Me To The Moon

Good morning! 

I’m currently sitting in the Detroit airport, waiting for my flight to depart. Yes, I’m spending yet another week away from home. But I’m excited; I’ve never been in Michigan before! 

I was hoping to write some patriotic blog post for the Fourth of July, but amidst the relaxation of my grandparents’ house at the lake, I failed to do so. Uncle Sam will forgive me for that if I just throw in a ‘God Bless America,’ right? 

I love flying. Even though I hate heights, I still love being in the air and looking down at the countryside. I’m always in awe of how neat and organized everything looks from up there. Just looking at every neighborhood, baseball field, and clump of trees makes me think of how long some of these buildings have been there, and how tiny and fragile they look from 10,000 feet high. I think flying makes me appreciate being alive because it reminds us of how easily we could not be alive anymore. The tiniest thing could go wrong on an airplane, and then all of it would be over. Which should be a scary thought, but it’s reassuring to me. To think of how lucky we are to be able to lift hundreds of pounds in the air and transport it across the world, technology is amazing! 

In another life, I would be a Pan Am stewardess. That way I could travel everywhere, and get paid to do so! I desperately want to travel everywhere. As Frank Sinatra says, Fly Me To The Moon.

Long story short, I love flying. Wow, that would have been a short blog post if I had just said that, short and sweet. Oh well, thank you for reading my rambling thoughts while waiting for my plane. We’re boarding now, so I’m (literally) off! 

Bon Voyage!

Sunday Selfie

For many churches throughout my county, today is Graduation Sunday, where we recognize all high school seniors who grew up in the church who are graduating from high school. Some of my closest friends from church were in the grade below me, and are all graduating this week.

Some of them I remember meeting when I was a freshman. Now that I’m done with my freshman year of college, they are about to enter theirs. It’s really exciting and extremely sad at the same time!

I had a hard time going to college because half of my small group from church stayed at home (to finish high school). But now, all of us are going to different parts of the country for school. It’s harder to keep in touch when everyone is so spread out, but I guess that’s just what happens when you become an adult, right?

I never realized how much I would enjoy watching others grow up. It all seems so fun to look back on your own life and count all of the fun memories you’ve had, but I find it even more noteworthy to remember the events from another’s point of view.

Congratulations to all the high school seniors and soon to be graduates. In the words of Elle Woods, “You did it!”

College may not always be easy, but trust me: it will always be worth it.

 

My gorgeous friends, Olivia, Rachel, and Catherine

My gorgeous and graduating friends, Olivia, Rachel, and Catherine 

 

Happy Sunday.

 

P.S. Life lesson #451: One should always take silly Sunday selfies.