On Oct. 5 and 6, Wonder Women Tech (WWT) took place at the Long Beach Convention Center. It’s a conference that brings together local and global innovators, businesswomen, and tech companies to initiate an important dialogue on inclusivity of women in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) fields.
As to what drove Lisa Mae Brunson, the founder of WWT and Long Beach resident, to create the conference, she said, “I feel like my love for humanity is the driving force, and I know that technology and innovation is what sets the stage for our future and the way that we live.”
No surprise, technology is becoming more prevalent in people’s everyday lives. Whether it’s an Alexa or electric scooter, humans are fascinated by it. The women in tech roles, however, equate to far less than their male counterparts.
The National Center for Women and Information Technology states that in 2017, 26 percent of the computing workforce were women and less than 10 percent were women of color. But there’s room to change that—by 2026, 3.5 million computing-related job openings are expected.
So women from all backgrounds are teaming up at events like WWT to share how they integrate technology in their professions.
WWT included over 100 speakers from companies such as Oracle, Pandora, Weedmaps, and Lyft. Heather VanCura, Oracle’s director of the Java Community Process (JCP) program, gave an inspiring speech about the “Top 10 Ways to Ally for Women.”
In her speech, Vancura explained that many women are hired on proof, opposed to men who are hired on potential. So when women feel that they haven’t already proved that they’re capable of something, they’re scared to pursue it. It’s the “imposter” syndrome, or doubt, that all humans experience, but women do especially.
Lora Ivanova, creator of ScareLA, a summer convention dedicated to the spirit of Halloween, advised women to pursue their ideas no matter the circumstances.
“Get going, talk to your friends, create something, and start small…start with something you can execute really well and then grow from there,” Ivanova said.
In addition to speakers, a career fair/expo was free to the public. Companies like Google, Mindbody, and Compass lined the room to converse with interested attendees.
Rachel Chervin, a female software engineer from Swell Investing, explained that she was instrumental in creating the company’s online platform. The start-up, which helps people invest in a portfolio of green companies, uses an interactive streamline interface. She says that coding wasn’t what she went to college for, but she fell in love with it afterward.
WWT also partnered with Long Beach Unified School District and Long Beach Public Libraries. At the Junior Innovation Camp, children created their own light-up notebooks.
Also among attendees were college students and graduates exploring their options. Amelia Hall, Nicole Casares, and Michelle Tyler, co-organizers of Long Beach Women in Tech, were excited for a conference dedicated to women. It’s why they started their group that caters to women of all ages, whether they are beginners or established professionals in the tech industry.
“Our group is entirely women, and we have quite a few people that come to our meetups,” Hall said. “But then if you go to any other tech meetup, you’re one of two girls maybe.”
One thing’s for sure, Wonder Women Tech is helping disrupt that status quo.
Although the event started in Long Beach three years ago and has traveled to London and Washington D.C., one thing remains the same. Wonder Women Tech allows women the opportunity to be inspired and heard. It’s women that are breaking the glass ceiling because women are capable.
To learn more about Wonder Women Tech, visit https://wonderwomentech.com/