AllTech leads discussion about female athletes in technology

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Last Saturday, a dozen Colby women gathered in a Lovejoy classroom to talk about technology and sports.  The AllTech team held an information session on how to utilize an athletic mindset to position oneself for career success in technology.

Colby alumnae Grace Perry ’97 and Lauren McGrath ’11 led the session. While attending the College, Perry played on the women’s basketball team, and McGrath competed on the alpine ski team. With athletes on campus making up about  a third of the student body, they geared their presentation toward female athletes and the special skills and experiences they offer professionally. They identified the top ten reasons to hire female athletes. Among them were characteristics such as self-discipline, determination, and a never-quit attitude. “Our idea is that those skills translate really well into a tech [sic] industry,” McGrath said.

Later in their presentation, Perry and McGrath shifted gears and discussed the ways in which women could utilize their liberal arts education to develop a successful career in technology. “How you prepare and leverage a liberal arts degree…is how you make your game plan,” Perry said.

Both Perry and McGrath spoke about their unexpected paths to careers in technology. “We fell into our careers by accident….I didn’t have anyone there to guide me through this, but by mistake I got into technology…. My goal for AllTech is to do something for you guys that I wish someone had done for me when I was your age,” Perry said.

McGrath said she initially wanted to be a lawyer, and then thought she would eventually go into finance. In the end, she did not pursue either of those careers. “When I graduated, the economy was just rebounding….I took the first job I could get. I went to a digital marketing agency…and sort of by being self-taught, I ended up doing a lot of media planning and buying…and learned a lot about the mobile industry…But I really fell into that by mistake, and I realized that the media companies were really interesting to me,” McGrath said.

“When I was sitting here in this room in college, I had no idea [the technology industry] existed, and I wish I did because perhaps it would’ve taken three years less to figure out what I wanted to do….There are so many kinds of opportunities in technology….It’s up to us to help you find them and explore them,” she added.

The speakers also discussed the imbalance of genders in the field of technology and how that led to Perry’s creation of AllTech. “When I go meet with tech [sic] companies, I see 80 percent men [and] 20 percent women. 70 percent men and 30 percent women is really the best it gets—even at big companies like Google and Facebook. Over the last 30 years, the numbers for women have reduced for some reason,” Perry explained.

She said her idea for AllTech came when she was in her hometown working with young women. When she asked them what careers they wanted to pursue, nobody mentioned technology. “I was like ‘Why aren’t you considering technology?’ It was really just because they weren’t aware,” Perry said.

After mentoring several young women, she said it was encouraging to start hearing her mentees say they wanted to go into a legal career in technology or a human resources role in technology. “[Men] go for jobs that they have two out of ten qualifications for. Women go for jobs with eight out of ten [qualifications]. You have to build the confidence to position yourself for your first job, for a promotion, to be CEO…A lot of the time it’s difficult for us women but you’ve got to practice,” Perry said.

That was the goal of the information session: to provide a starting point for women in the audience to start practicing. Perry and McGrath provided specific examples of how they would respond to interview questions and the types of questions they ask employers. They also spoke about strategies to develop a “winning game plan” for various careers.

Though it was intended to be an information session, it ran much more like a conversation between friends. Their presentation was interactive, and the atmosphere was relaxed and supportive. “As a sophomore, I’m not really sure what exactly I want to do after Colby yet, but meeting Grace and Lauren was extremely helpful with how to get started. They gave us tools and advice about how to approach our job searches in a confident and successful way while also acting as resources for us whenever we need them,” Sarah Taft ’18 said. For more information, visit http://www.alltechteam.org/ or contact Perry at graceperry@yahoo.com and McGrath at laurenrmcgrath@gmail.com.

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