Audrea, TechGirl 2016, USA
Upon first learning about the TechGirls initiative, I could not have been more excited to get involved. Yet I had no idea the impact it would continue to source four years later. These past few years, TechGirls has guided not only my academic pursuits in technology, but also my personal growth and interest in global affairs. The lessons I’ve learned from friends and mentors has instilled a longing to explore how technology can be utilized to overcome regional, social, and linguistic barriers. Prior to participating in the initiative, I often felt discouraged from pursuing a tech-related field due to the lack of industry role models and female classmates in STEM courses. However, seeing these incredible TechGirls defy stereotypes despite gender discrimination and socioeconomic barriers gave me the confidence to engage with my interests, serving as a major motivating factor in my decision to study at Wellesley College.
Rather than focusing purely on computer science, Wellesley’s liberal arts education allows me to pursue various intersectional topics concerning social reform. Combining technology with humanities, my curriculum equips me with unique perspectives that explore the gap between digital and physical spaces involving both the individual and society. TechGirls first presented me with these broadened views of globalization and pressing world issues, encouraging me to delve into such spaces during my undergraduate career. From the friendships developed throughout the course of the program and strengthened in the years following, I have gained a stronger connection to these topics by drawing from personal stories of vulnerability and strength, amongst which lie courage, creativity, and compassion that illustrate the unity of ideas within the diversity of experience. Inspired by these stories, my current work as a research assistant at Wellesley involves creating visual displays highlighting marginalized identities in technology, with which we hope to convey the diverse experiences of these role models and encourage students who identify similarly to pursue their passions with programming. Although we stem from expansive backgrounds, we all share a desire to bridge an understanding between social disparities to positively impact our communities. My passion for programming is sparked by these stories recounting aspirations and opportunities to impact society – stories that share a common underlying motivation to enact innovative reform.
Participating in this initiative has further taught me that our differences in ethnicity, religious perspectives, and political views do not limit our capabilities or divide us, but inside unite us toward a common goal. Motivated to use my technical skills for social good, these inspiring women continue to enhance my understanding of the wide-ranging effects of global issues on a personal scale, in addition to illuminating the potential that technology holds in navigating such circumstances. In the face of adversity, they are redefining the field of technology by paving their own paths to a brighter future for themselves and their communities. I am endlessly grateful to be a TechGirl alongside these leaders and influencers of change.