ExtraHop is spending this week celebrating International Women's Day (March 8th) by hearing from some of the brilliant, passionate women so integral to this company and the tech industry as a whole. How'd they get into STEM? What advice do they have for other women and girls? Gear up for a whole week of blogs from the women of ExtraHop, from the engineering departments to marketing and everything in between. Happy International Women's Day!
When I was growing up, "computers" were still firmly in the domain of the classic male math nerds. Only two guys in my math class were even allowed to touch the two computers in our class that glowed mysteriously in the corner. Luckily, my dad was an engineer and thought that owning a "personal computer" was really cool. He talked about how that computer would have taken up an entire room when he was younger. He bought me my first computer, a Leading Edge Model D, and later helped me build my first box from scratch.
While teaching persuasive writing at a community college, the "world wide web" was in it's infancy and it amazed me. I would often use the power of the Internet as a topic for debate. I wanted to help people see and understand the Internet the way I did: Incredibly promising, exciting—and potentially dangerous to those who didn't learn how to navigate it. We discussed the loss of privacy, the problem of internet vigilantism, and "digital scarlet letters." All still relevant topics, but fresh at that time. The current rise of "fake news" is not surprising to me. Validating sources in a sea of information is one of the toughest problems for students in this new age to tackle.
I think that understanding of the double-edged sword of technology is what led me to ExtraHop. Technology opens new doors for the human race every day, but that means we need to actively protect ourselves from obvious threats like hackers but also from more insidious dangers like invalid sources and false information. I love working for ExtraHop because I see the security aspects of what we do—we can't solve IT safety hazards by building a bigger wall around our systems; tech is constantly evolving, and we must find ways to evolve with it.
To women and girls interested in technology today, I would point to my experience and say look! There are so many more jobs in tech than just engineering! If you have no interest in programming or designing hardware but you still find yourself blown away by all the possibility of technology, consider what you do enjoy—writing, working with people, solving problems, making videos, what have you—and I guarantee there is a career path in tech that will be perfect for you. All that it requires is a curiosity about tech and a willingness to learn.
Tech is still wildly unbalanced in terms of the ratio of men to women, and I think one huge reason for that is this idea that "being in tech" has to mean sitting in front of a computer and coding all day (not a bad thing, if that's your thing!). But that couldn't be farther from the truth. There are endless opportunities in this industry, so I advise you to seek out STEM friends and mentors (especially women who can help you stake your claim in the industry and gain confidence no matter your path), take tech classes, explore new things!
Technology is the future, and listen—we need you on our team. Happy International Women's Day!