CompAlliance has an internal communications newsletter titled, CompClips. In this newsletter we communicate company information, policies, etc., and then we get to the fun stuff like sharing pictures of our kids or grandkids at Halloween. We also try to feature some of our staff when they first join our company, or to highlight a specific division. Here is an excerpt from our March newsletter highlighting two of our IT staff.
International women’s day, celebrated annually on March 8th, not only draws our attention to celebrate the past accomplishments of women but also shines a light on current issues affecting women today: one of them is, and continues to be, the gender gap that exists in the Information Technology workforce. Although great progress has been made in the area of Information Technology, gender representation for women in IT has steadily declined through the years.1 The percentage of computing occupations held by Women in IT has gone from a high of 36% in 1991 to 26% in 20182. This should be cause for concern since there is a significant portion of our population that is not driving innovation in an industry that impacts human behavior so much.
“The idea you don’t have is the voice you haven’t heard.” 3
A 2018 study released by McKinsey & Company in a joint venture with Melinda Gates echoes the same sentiment:
“A lack of gender diversity carries with it a major opportunity cost, both for individual tech companies and the entire sector. Diverse teams, including those with greater gender diversity, are on average more creative, innovative, and, ultimately, are associated with greater profitability. This strong positive correlation between higher levels of employee diversity and stronger financial performance has been demonstrated consistently across sectors and geographies, and tech is no different.”4
At CompAlliance, we are proud of our gender diversity, especially within our IT department. According to the UN, “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.5” What better way to celebrate international women’s day than to meet two of our very own “Women in IT” who are playing extraordinary roles in providing exceptional IT solutions, who are literally, changing the face of technology. We as a society have a long way to go to bridge the gender representation gap in IT, however, Divya Chelika and Natasha Hensley are leading the charge for CompAlliance.
Getting to know Natasha Hensley (pictured on the left)
- What is your Job Title and how long have you been working with CompAlliance? Software Developer and I have been with CompAlliance since 8/1/2018.
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was growing up, I wanted to be an author.
- Did that change? Why? It changed when I realized I liked reading books and someone else’s story more than writing them.
- What was your favorite subject in school? Why? English because I enjoyed writing and reading books.
- At what age did you start developing an interest in technology/computers? What happened? High School when I started taking computer courses.
- Why did you choose IT as a career choice? I like that the IT field is always growing and changing and there is so much to learn.
- How do other people react when you tell them you are in IT? Surprised, indifferent, or do they want you to repair their computers? I feel like people who don’t know me well act indifferent, but family members tend to think that means they can call me for every little computer question they have from email to “Why won’t my computer work?”. I tell them to call the Help Desk! Lol
- If you were able to pick another career or field what would that be? I don’t think I would pick another field but would love to learn other programming languages which fortunately I am able to do that here. 🙂
- What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the challenges and always getting to learn something new. I have very patient and knowledgeable Mentors that I enjoy working with and learning from.
- What advice do you have for other women who would like to pursue a career in information technology? I would say to just be confident in your skills and let your voice to be heard if you have an opinion or idea on how to improve workflows or current processes.
Getting to know Divya Chelika (pictured on the right – above)
- What is your Job Title and how long have you been working with CompAlliance? I’m a Software Developer, and it’s been more than 2 years working with CompAlliance.
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up, I wanted to become a carpenter, even though I didn’t know what it really entailed. But my mom wanted me to become a gynecologist, and my dad towards being a mathematics professor, because I love math. Neither choices really attracted me, but I had to choose, and I chose the one I desired the most.
Because my dad worked in IT as an engineer for Oracle, I felt I had a strong affinity in this field and developed an interest for it. And being the daughter of someone who has excelled in this area, I had much to learn if I planned on pursuing this. Because the way I see it, “You’ve got your own growing up to do no matter how tall your father is”.
- Did that change? Why? My passion did not change. I was confident that I wanted to opt for Engineering. The real question arose when it came to choose which path I wanted to take. “A man with one watch knows what time it is, but a man with two watches is never quite sure”. That was the kind of situation my mind was in. One day I sat down and broke down my choices.
- Electrical Engineering – I did not like circuits.
- Civil Engineering – I thought it had very difficult subjects and I wouldn’t be able to complete it.
- Mechanical Engineering – I felt there were very few girls in this field.
- Finally, I came upon Computer Science. I liked it very much because it is ever growing and will have great career opportunities. The most interesting aspect is problem solving, design, development and analysis of software in a wide range of business. I believe computing and solving problems to serve people is a part of everything we do. Future opportunities in computing are without boundaries. The best way to predict a future is to create it. Thinking through all of this had caused a stir in me, so I decided to go an extra mile by pursuing a master’s in computer science at the University of Central Missouri.
- What was your favorite subject in school? Why? My favorite subject was Mathematics because the heart lies in understanding the question. I used to play and listen to my music quietly while working on math problems all night. Especially at night, because everyone would be sleeping and there would be no distractions around.
- At what age did you start developing an interest in technology/computers? What happened? When I was 8 years old, Computer Science was a mandatory subject in my school where they taught DOS commands and Linux – Red hat. I eagerly awaited throughout the week for that period. Back in India, to work on a computer in the year 2000 was huge in those days because not all schools granted this opportunity.
- Why did you choose IT as a career choice? Were you influenced by parents/teachers/mentors or others? I’d say my brother is my inspiration. He always aspired and fought hard in his work as if he was the third monkey trying to get into Noah’s ark. He never gives up on things very easily. He always encouraged and guided me. Through his actions I decided to choose IT. Not by luck or chance, but because there is a great purpose in this field that I can strive for. To work hard for. Simply put, it’s like placing all the parts of a watch in a box. when you shake the box and open it, you won’t find a whole watch. You can’t rely on luck or chance to replace hard work. It takes time, planning and effort. I always wanted to serve and be helpful in this field, and not be in the spotlight to showcase my work. In my actions will it speak for itself.
- How do other people react when you tell them you are in IT? Surprised, indifferent, or do they want you to repair their computers? There were many times when my cousins asked me to repair their computers. They probably thought that is what IT is all about. In my family I am the first girl to travel abroad and settle in IT. There were many who discouraged me and was not supportive. Except for my mom who texted me saying that she is proud of me. I’ll always remember those words.
- If you were able to pick another career or field what would that be? I would choose theology and spread the love of God by going on missions and performing charity work.
- What do you enjoy most about your job? It gives me great joy in planning out my thoughts, sketching it out, processing and understanding the problem, and solving it. I also find strength in working as a team. Metaphorically speaking, a team to me is like three strands of cords. You can’t tear it apart as quickly as one. I also like to learn new technologies.
- What advice do you have for other women who would like to pursue a career in information technology?
I would say…
- Learning a technology or starting in IT is a great way to sustain yourself in the long run.
- If Information Technology is their passion, then I would recommend them to follow their dream. Nothing will ever stop a person from chasing the dream they desire.
- Keep knocking on every door. If one door closes on you, move on. There will always be another door waiting.
- Don’t feel disheartened. There will always be ups and downs, pain and struggles, and discouragement. If you feel dissuaded, look in the mirror and say to yourself that…
- “You are a new wine. For every time you’re crushed and pressed, you will feel anew”.
- “You are precious”.
- “What’s different in you makes you beautiful”.
- “Never give up.”
Where I’m sitting is an eagle picture hanging in one of my coworker’s office area. This always encourages me because eagles fly above the clouds. Imagine a baby eagle that is learning to fly, and its mom gives it a push off a high mountain. That one push is all we need to come out of our comfort zone and enjoy the sky above the clouds.