International Women’s Day (IWD) is recognized annually around the world on March 8th to celebrate women’s achievements and help forge a gender equal world. On Friday, March 6, NATI organized a Women in Tech Panel for International Women’s Day together with Women in Resource Development Corporation. Four women were invited to share their experiences working in the tech sector to a group of students in grades 6-8 at Villanova Junior High School.
Moderated by Candice Sundgaard, a Project Risk Manager at Husky Energy, the four panelists each spoke about their own paths that led them to their current careers in the tech sector and also answered questions from the moderator. The four inspiring panelists were:
- Niki Pryor – Director of Marketing, Verafin
- Ashley Kapoor – Project Manager, Bluedrop
- Lesley Chard – App Designer and Developer, Clockwork Fox Studios
- Ashley Sullivan – Chief Operating Officer, Creatros Technologies Inc.
While the panelists all have very different roles within the tech industry, there were some similar themes in the advice they offered to the students. They all spoke about the importance of a good work ethic and always trying new things. Each one also talked about how it is even useful to attempt things that do not ultimately work out.
“Knowing what you do not want to do is a really valuable lesson,” said Niki Pryor. “Embracing fear is also a great learning opportunity.”
The session concluded with an opportunity for students to ask their own questions. Considering the IWD theme #EachforEqual, one of the Villanova students asked the panelists to talk about what equality means to them.
Ashley Kapoor shared that for her, “Equality means you can do whatever you want to do.” She also spoke authentically about how she was bullied in school. “Know that it gets better,” Ashley advised. “You’ll find people who really get you as you get older.”
“Everyone can fight for equality,” said Lesley Chard. “It’s not just women who are marginalized. There’s room for everyone. Equality is when everyone gets equal representation.”
Ashley Sullivan offered, “I also look at equality not only referencing gender, but also from the perspective of someone with a disability. I don’t want a VIP door in the back of the building, I want to use the same door as everyone else in the front.”
Thank you to our moderator and panelists for generously taking the time to provide such thoughtful and insightful perspectives. As real-life role models, they are helping to promote gender diversity and to inspire the next generation of tech sector employees.