It all started when...
For as long as I can remember I loved computers. Building them, programming them and playing games. Since then I've studied electrical engineering, worked with over 15 Hi-Tech companies in 10 countries, served in positions from Quality Assurance to Game Producer, and seen the industry from all angles. This has given me a unique perspective on the challenges women face every day in the Hi-Tech world.
As a woman in the industry, I saw a need: Today, women have won the battle to have equal rights with men in the workplace. But this has created its own problems. As women struggle to find their place in the man’s world, both men and women are hiding parts of their true selves in order to maintain some level of tolerance. Unfortunately, I feel the price we are paying for repressing ourselves is far greater than the rewards.
I have succeeded in remaining true to myself while going from a tiny cog in the system to being a Game Producer.
I’ve always been a tech-head. In fifth grade, I had wrote my first mini code game. It was a very elaborate game in which you entered a number and it spat out a random different number. It was in color too - black and green.
In high school my bedroom floor was a computer graveyard. I succeeded in Frankensteining a computer together from bits and pieces of old ones my dad brought home from work.
As an undergrad, I studied electrical engineering where I was usually the only girl in a giant lecture hall filled with boys. I spent my summers soldering pager systems for hospitals and restaurants, during which I skillfully managed to burn my lip.
I also worked my little bum off doing PR work for adult swim on the Cartoon Network while serving coffee as a barista and boozy coffee as a bartender, all while learning to be an engineer for when I grew up, and through all of this still dancing and playing the violin.
Part of my studies found me in an organization called EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) where I worked with a group of various engineering disciplines to create a prototype board for a “meditation machine” for the university hospital. Don’t ask me how that one went.
Then I did grow up (a little bit) and got an adult job. Amdocs (a telecom software company) saw that among my studies I had studied basic Java code and I was hired to be a developer.
Life and its many curveballs led me to work in their consulting department as part of System Integrations instead. This afforded me the opportunity to travel to clients in various countries and work with Hi-Tech companies in many different cultures.
However, my position was still a technical one, and I wanted to move up the corporate ladder. But I found that I faced roadblocks at every turn. I wasn’t willing to sleep with the right people to get there, so I moved sideways and got a job as a project manager at a smaller company that works with 3D imaging sensors (think XBox Kinect). Although my title was Project Manager I did just about everything else besides that, but my work did give me the chance to work with Panasonic in Japan and travel to see several game studios in China.
My next logical move was to become a game producer for a tiny startup working on a freemium game called the Hunger-Game Adventures with Lionsgate, based on the hit movie. In this tiny new pond I felt like a big fish. I got to manage all of the departments. Granted, they each had no more than two to three people. Nonetheless, I was finally feeling like I was reaching my my dream job. I had the best of both worlds. Video games appealed to both my technical and creative sides.
But a nagging dream I’ve had since during my days at Amdocs started to sneak up on me again - to have my own consulting firm. So I flew out to Australia, like you do, and offered my nuggets of wisdom both technical and managerial to two companies in Melbourne. I discovered I loved doing it, but the distance got to me, so I repacked my bags and my dreams and returned home to get a job.
I was sought out by a giant company and brought in as a game producer. I got to create and manage a studio as well as other aspects and teams such as developers, marketing, math, etc.
But it seemed my presence was unwelcome to one of my female colleagues/employees. So the nagging dream returned this time much stronger and clearer.
From my experiences in the industry, I had realized certain truths about women in the corporate world in general and High-Tech in particular.
First, I have to give a giant thank you to the feminist movement for bringing us to a place where women have the opportunities to work in all of these positions to begin with.
But in this effort to gain equality we have gone a bit too far. Women are denying parts of themselves in an effort to be accepted in a man’s world. We have become men in skirts and it’s time to scale it back a bit and find strength in our differences. We are wired differently than men and there are greater results to be achieved if we own these differences and use them to everyone’s advantage.
My work seeks to bring awareness of the differences between men and women, and how this affects workplace relationships, particularly through bringing both genders to the table. I hope to change the status quo to achieve better results in better ways. I do so through workshops, presentations, and providing forums for men and women to share their individual experiences in order to change outmoded ways of thinking for the benefit of everyone.