Career advice from the coolest women in tech

Google Photos Sydney Careers with STEM women in stem
All of these women work in tech roles in the Google Photos team in Sydney. Image: Lauren Trompp

Are you a woman thinking about getting into computer science (CS)? We hit up the female staff behind Google Photos for a major pathway pep talk

Women represent half of the population, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at your average tech office. Only 28 per cent of IT workers in Australia and 23 per cent in New Zealand are female, which is crazy considering that by 2023 there’s predicted to be 3.5 million job openings in cybersecurity alone.

Lucky tech companies like Google are hiring increasing numbers of diverse STEM grads! We were stoked to discover that there are loads of women – most fluent in code – championing their Photos team. Here, they share their biggest career tips for any girls considering tertiary STEM study.

What advice would you give next-gen women in STEM?

  • “Having a tech background will give you valuable skills no matter what you decide to do in your life – computer science is even changing music, medicine and art! Start now and don’t give up. You will have a strong community of women to support you.”

Stephanie Borgman, Google Sydney Chief of Staff and Program Manager

  • “Understand your strength, your weakness and what you enjoy in tech – it’s a big area!”

Katrina Le, Site Reliability Engineer

  • “It’s never too late to start, and to try as many things as possible! I had never considered coding before trying out a course at uni, and I loved it enough to switch degrees.”

Claire Leong, Software Engineer

CWCODE19 Poster_A3 screen res
Decorate your wall with women in tech inspo! This poster is available to purchase or as a free download here. Photography: Lauren Trompp
  • “It can be tough and daunting being a minority in the room, but that means you bring something different, which is a great thing! Your ideas and perspective are extremely valuable and in very high demand. Embrace what makes you different, and know that your differences are exactly why you belong in tech.”

Rachael Morgan, Software Engineer

“Be confident, work hard and believe in yourself!”

Florencia Irena, Software Engineer

  • “Don’t worry about fitting into a predefined idea of what a person in tech needs to be. For example, I’m a designer who has a career in tech, yet I wouldn’t fit the stereotypical picture of a person who codes behind a desk all day. Expose yourself to the many different types of tech communities – design, software engineering, hardware engineering, product management – to see what approach fits your style.”

– Krystal Higgins, UX Design Lead

RELATED: What tech jobs can I get at a bank? 

  • “Don’t doubt yourself or your abilities. Tech jobs are not just about writing code. Talk to women already in the field to find out about the dozens of variations of jobs in tech – some of which may resonate more with you than others.  Find a mentor who can help to guide you, and who you can talk through yours ideas with.”

– Prasadi Pilosof, Technical Program Manager

  • “Despite all adversity, be unashamedly yourself. Don’t lean in – nothing will change if we just change to fit any existing culture.”

 Sara Schaare-Weeks, Senior Software Engineer and Google Photos Tech Lead

  • “As someone in a non-technical role, it’s important to me that young women realise you don’t need a highly technical background to succeed in the tech industry. I’d also recommend reaching out to other women in tech, it’s inspiring to have a network of successful female colleagues.”

– Rochelle Esterman, Administrative Business Partner

RELATED: Tech bias puts millions at risk of unemployment  

  • “Networking events are your friends. People will be far more willing to help and give advice if you offer to buy them coffee. And finding a mentor can be really helpful.”

– Hannah Sampson, Software Engineer

  • “Follow your heart. Do what you want to do, not what you think you should do. If you think something will make you happy, go for it!”

– Lauren Manzo, Senior Software Engineer

  • “If you want something, just ask for it. Sometimes, we see opportunities that we really want, but we end up second-guessing ourselves – like thinking we’re not qualified enough! In such situations, just trust yourself and ask for it. You will find that people will believe in you if you believe in yourself. You can always keep learning on the job!”

– Tanvi Jindal, Senior Software Engineer

  • “If you enjoy it, just go for it. Whatever you decide to do, there’s going to be plenty of reasons not to, and plenty of setbacks. Just keep pushing through. There’s so much value that can come out of a career in tech. And even if you decide you’d want to work on something else, the skills you learn are going to help you, whatever it is you go on to do.”

Katie Walker, Software Engineer

  • “Make sure you surround yourself with supportive peers, managers and mentors who will be there to give advice and support!”

– Amy Lo, Tech lead manager

Looking for career-inspo for your classroom/office/desk? Download the Google Photos Women in Tech poster here

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital assistant, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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