Women leaders in technology talk about opportunities

Lauren Greenwood

More women are now needed in the technology field because of the skills they have to offer, said Chief Information Officer for the State of California Teri Takai.

“Women have an ability to understand people. I always believe that we bring a perspective to the workplace and an ability to see through black and white issues, which is valuable,” Takai said. “We bring another skill set to the table.”

Six panelists, all of whom are in leadership positions in the technology field, shared their personal experiences and technology career opportunities with students during the “Women in Technology” forum held today at the American River Courtyard. The event is part of the Women’s Herstory Month celebration.

Sacramento State alumna Meika Zelenova spoke of her experiences as a software consultant for five years.

When she first met with her clients, they were apprehensive about having a young woman handle their projects, Zelenova said.

“Honestly we were scared. We see these two young girls walking into the room and they are the leads for our multimillion projects. We weren’t comfortable for a while until we started talking with you and realized that we were going to be okay,” Zelenova recalled her clients telling her.

Zelenova said there are definitely barriers that women face as leaders in the technology industry. However, the best way to break barriers is to recruit more high school and college students into the technology field and let them know about the career opportunities.

Manjeet Chocker, senior manager for license management services at Oracle Corporation and Sac State alumna, said that more women are in technology-related positions in her company.

“I visited the developer headquarters and it’s comprised of probably 50 percent women and 50 percent men,” Chocker said.

In addition to encouraging women to enter the technology field, panelist Joanna Jullien, an independent consultant for cultural change, emphasized that women must be willing to adapt to change.

“The top 10 jobs of today didn’t exist in 2004. You have to remember that technology is about change and you have to be willing to make that change,” Jullien said. “When you look at why women are not staying in technology, they find that that is one of the reasons. You have to be willing to stay current.”

Takai, the event’s featured panelist, said women who want to pursue a career in the technology field don’t necessarily have to have a background in technology.

“A technology career does not have to be in technology. For instance, a very large number of technology jobs today are marketing, communication and people skills jobs,” Takai said. “Secondly, with technology jobs today, you always have to be open about what to come next.”

Many students in the audience did not have a technology background, and there were a variety of majors, from pre-nursing to communication studies.

Kathy Thao, freshman undeclared major, said the discussion made her aware of the career possibilities in the technology field.

“(The event) made me realize that it is not just a man’s job,” Thao said.

Lauren Greenwood can be reached at [email protected].