Filling the Women in Technology Pipeline

As a leader at Rackspace, I am a strong believer in investing time and resources to attract and develop the most qualified talent; as a woman in technology, it’s also important to me to encourage young women to pursue non-traditional careers.

That’s a big reason I joined the committee that sponsors San Antonio Area Aspirations in Computing Award program, which last week honored 36 of the brightest young women in South Texas for their technological achievements.

Along with fellow sponsors, including USAA, Texas State University, Jungle Disk, San Antonio Women in Technology and others, Rackspace celebrates the technology leadership  these high school students have shown. I firmly believe we’ll see them in the near future charting their own paths in IT and innovation. I believe these women will make a global impact with some of their passions, such as developing more secure systems for self-driving vehicles, designing solutions to improve healthcare, as well as coding new learning platforms to educate girls and boys around the world.

Patty Freeman, vice president of Business Analytics at Rackspace, shared a simple, yet powerful message as the evening’s keynote speaker: “one step at a time toward greatness.” She highlighted the importance of envisioning the future, seeking out experienced guides, continuously learning and staying calm in the face of challenges. She told the girls to trust themselves, and surround themselves people who challenge them.

“That’s how you reach the top,” she said, “one step at a time.”

Texas State University is the local affiliate of the National Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing, which “provides a long-term community for female technologists,” according to its website, “encouraging persistence in computing through continuous engagement and ongoing encouragement at each pivotal stage of their educational and professional development.”

Each year, they honor high school women for their computing-related achievements and interests. Award recipients are chosen based on their “aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing; leadership ability; academic history and plans for post-secondary education.”

San Antonio Women in Technology, a local nonprofit, partners with Texas State University, local companies and academic institutions to sponsor the San Antonio Area Aspirations in Computing Award, which helps fill the talent pool for the growing technical workforce needs in the San Antonio and greater South Texas region.

Grant Herbon, Jungle Disk’s marketing director, focused his message on helping others. “Encourage other women to stay in and to learn technology,” he told attendees — and many recipients and honorees demonstrated that they already understood this spirit of being a good tech Samaritan, as they’ve already dedicated time teaching and leading teams through the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program.

I want to say congratulations once again to the winners and honorees for their remarkable achievements in technology and computing. To them we say, remain focused and always remember there are others to help you along the way. It’s okay to ask for help and guidance from other women and men who have walked the same path you are on today.

Make your life an interesting and exciting journey filled with high achievements. Dream big, accomplish more, let greatness be your obsession, seek help from those who came before you, and you will be on your way to a fulfilling life and a highly successful future.

If you’d like to learn how you or your company can provide an internship or sponsor a student, please reach out to SAWIT or Dr. Barbara Hewitt at bh05@txstate.edu. For a list of this year’s recipients, check out www.aspirations.org/18HSrecipients.

Perla Escobar is a Manager of Fanatical Support at Rackspace; she manages the service delivery and technical teams to support Rackspace’s Mexico customer account base. She first became involved in implementing technical projects throughout Latin America prior to joining Rackspace in 2009. Her passion is collaborating with internal teams to utilize existing technology to innovate and creatively help customers work through everyday business challenges.