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Panels Highlight Diversity in Tech Solutions

Kelsey Suyehira, a senior computer science student at Boise State and alum Marianna Budnikova engaged with the Boise tech community not once, but twice in the past week as participants on panels devoted to solving diversity in tech issues.

Boise Code Camp participants at Hackfort

Boise Code Camp, the Northwest’s most popular development summit, featured a panel session that shared the hurdles and roadblocks women face as tech professionals and concrete actions employers can take to attract and retain women in this environment. Kelsey and Marianna joined other women working in IT to participate in this panel. Discussing the issues that many women face, Kelsey mentioned ‘impostor syndrome’ and how she’s come to understand and face that, along with the importance of mentoring other women in tech. Marianna added the importance of building a community of women in tech, finding women and young girls interested in tech and supporting each other. Marianna has had personal experience with the benefits of this as a founder of the Boise State ACM-W student club and co-founder of the Boise chapter of Girl Develop It.

Hackfort, a three-day event illuminating tech, and creative culture featured a similar panel session with Kelsey and Marianna joining guests Mariella Paulino (Fellow, Code for Progress) and Shannon Turner (Founder, Hear Me Code). The audience asked a number of questions related to what they could do to help as companies and as parents of girls. Kelsey and other panelists highlighted the need for changing recruiting strategies and recommended reaching out to community and university organizations that are focused on this issue (like ACM-W and Girl Develop It!). Marianna told fathers and husbands in the audience to avoid “taking the keyboard” and instead harness that spark of learning and help them learn how to code on their own.

In addition to the panelists, Keynetics Co-Founder Eileen Barber was able to offer additional insight to Hackfort attendees by noting the need to provide more women with training in technology. Eileen recognized this need early and founded the Keynetics Endowed Scholarship at Boise State which is awarded annually to women studying computer science.

Both panels were well received, with Marianna and Kelsey successfully highlighting some of the major issues facing young women computer scientists and steps to overcome them.

Boise Code Camp Panel: Where Are the Women in Technology?  3/21/2015

Hackfort Panel: Diversity Pipeline – Pioneering women tech discuss their experiences and efforts to increase diversity in the technology community 3/26/2015