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The Mid-Career Donut Hole
Nadyne Richmond, VMware
As a woman in computing, you usually start off being comfortable with having few peers of your gender. When you start out in college, perhaps you have resources available to you like a campus group for women in computing. When you get your first job in the field, perhaps you work for a company that’s large enough to have an organized group for women, or perhaps you just band together with friends for wine and story-sharing.
As you get older, you begin to notice that you have fewer peers of your gender. We know from the research that women drop out of STEM fields in their late 20s and early 30s. There are many reasons for this, and they’re outside the scope of this talk. There are also plenty of women who switch from a technical track to a non-technical track in their career, such as trying out management.
I want to talk about what you can do if you’re in that spot: you’re in your 30s or 40s, and you somehow find yourself the only senior technical woman in the room. I want to address the following questions:
- How do you stay up-to-date technically?
- How do you effectively communicate with younger team members?
- How do you ensure that you maintain credibility?
- How do you find mentors?
- How do you continue to grow your career and decide what your next steps are?
- What can you do to help address that problem of women dropping out of STEM fields?
- How do you find your peers again?
Nadyne Richmond is a Staff User Researcher at VMware, directing user experience efforts across VMware's product suite. She created and led VMware's first internal user experience conference. Nadyne has also worked as a researcher at Microsoft and IBM. At Microsoft, Nadyne architected the user experience for Outlook:Mac 2011, which won a PC Magazine "Best of" award for 2010, as well as OneNote for iPad and OneNote for iPhone.
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