We interviewed Chloe Sumsion, Software Engineer at Lucid Software on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
As a software engineer at Lucid Software, I work primarily on our iOS mobile app for Lucidchart—a visual productivity platform that helps people understand and share ideas, information, and processes. I work closely with my team members to develop new features in our app and provide users with the best experience possible. Currently, the mobile team has five engineers, one UX designer, two quality assurance specialists, and one product manager. The nine of us have a lot of fun together as we develop our product for both Android and iOS. In addition to my day-to-day programming projects and meetings, I also play an active role in recruiting and interviewing candidates, mentoring an intern, and presenting my team’s work to the company and executives.
I’ve always had a passion for learning, mathematics, logic, puzzle-solving, creativity, and tech. I guess you could say I was born with it. I found multiple ways to exercise my love for these areas, but didn’t know about computer programming until my first year of college. Once I discovered computer science, however, I was hooked! I chose a career in technology because it fits my passions perfectly and there are endless opportunities for growth and imagination.
I studied for four years and received a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Brigham Young University.
I had multiple experiences working in technology before my current role. I designed and built websites for a couple small businesses and spent a few months working as a teacher’s assistant for a computer science class at Brigham Young University. These experiences helped me learn and develop my technical skills, as well as prove to myself that I was able to solve meaningful, real-world needs with my programming abilities. I also did two summer internships at Lucid Software before joining them full-time in my current position. The internships were fantastic! They introduced me to working in industry and helped me gain the skills necessary to be a key contributor on my team.
Females are definitely a minority in the tech sector. Yet, there are things companies can do to combat this lack of women. For instance, everyone at Lucid Software does their best to create a work environment and culture that is attractive to women. We talk about it often and look for ways to improve and better support women. As a result, the women I know at Lucid love working there and we are able to maintain a pretty good ratio of men to women.
The biggest stereotype I see around computer science is how the media portrays the stereotypical programmer: an overweight guy who is still living in his parents’ basement, hasn’t taken a shower in days, and sits in the dark either programming or gaming. This stereotype doesn’t say “technology is just for men,” but it certainly doesn’t say, “technology is a great fit for women.” Quite the opposite! Most women don’t want to fit into that stereotype. Even if it’s subconscious, I think women see that stereotype and convince themselves that technology isn’t for them before they take the time to find that the stereotype is not very accurate.
Women who are passionate or curious about technology should study it! I say this because, from my experience, when you pursue your passion that is when you’ll be happiest. I’ll admit, I don’t always find computer science easy, but I like the challenge. And I’ve found that jobs in tech are some of the most flexible jobs out there. So, if you’re looking for a flexible job that always challenges you and helps you pursue your passion for logic, math, and creativity, then technology is a fantastic course of study!
I believe the only barriers are the ones that women place on themselves. For both men and women, learning something like computer programming isn’t particularly easy. The problem is, I’ve seen more women give up on themselves when they encounter these difficulties whereas men seem to stick through it. Yet, I’d argue that women can be just as good at tech as men are…if they are confident in themselves and stick with it.
Help women pursue their passion and not get deterred by the stereotype around working in tech. Help women understand that technology is one of the most flexible, exciting, and opportunistic careers out there. Help women see how creative they can be through working in technology. (On a side note, I initially thought computer programming didn’t require any creativity, but boy was I proven wrong! Programming is creating apps, websites, and more by using words! I soon realized that programming is one of the most flexible and powerful creative mediums in the history of the world. Okay, end of that tangent.) Overall, I think women need more exposure to what a career in tech really looks like—they need to see how awesome and fun it truly is.