Despite advances made during the past 50 years, women continue to be underrepresented in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). As part of our Women’s History Month conversation series with women across Capital One, we spoke with some of our tech executives about a topic that’s near and dear to their hearts: how their interest in STEM began as girls and what they think needs to happen for more women to take on technology roles in the workplace.
Where did your interest in math and science start? Did your parents encourage it?
"I was a space nut as a young child, growing up in the Apollo days. I will never forget the day that we landed a man on the moon. I cut out every newspaper and magazine article I could find about the space program and I still have them. My parents let me stay home from school once to watch an Apollo launch, something that was unheard of in our house. My parents never placed any limits on my dreams about what I could do, and supported me in all my math and science adventures. My dad even helped me make an elliptical structure from metal and wood, so I could demonstrate the whispering gallery effect as a science project!" – Julie Eberfeld, SVP, Commercial Bank CIO
"I was always interested in math and science. My dad was an engineer and could fix anything, and I loved to help him with projects. I was also fascinated with space and loved watching the Apollo missions. I thought for sure that by the time I was a grown-up I’d be able to go to the moon or Mars for a vacation and that we’d have space colonies." – Diane Lye, SVP, Technology – Enterprise Data Services and Architecture
"Yes, I was very attracted to math and science. My father was both in electronic surveillance for the military and an inventor in his own right, which translated to many projects at home with radios, engines, and “creative” solutions. My original career goals were around flying and space, but once I started coding it was game over. I enjoy building solutions in my life and at work. My parents were super supportive and let me use the home as a test lab." – Pamela Rice, MVP, Technology
What are you doing to get more girls into STEM and more women into tech roles?
"As the lead of Capital One’s Women in Tech initiative, creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is one of my main areas of focus. We’re bringing Capital One women and men together to focus on developing a love of technology in girls, improving the representation of women in the technology field, and supporting the career development of women in tech roles in tangible and impactful ways." - Julie
What are women in tech struggling with? Any advice on how to overcome it?
"When I first started my career, the representation of women in computing roles was far greater than it is today. By last year, the representation of women in tech in the U.S. had declined to 25 percent – with women leaving the industry at the midpoint of their career at more than double the rate of men. At Capital One, we’re committed to doing our part to change that. My advice to women in technology is stay in. And if you’re not in, consider getting in – and then stay in. The industry needs you, we need the unique perspectives of women leaders influencing the products of the future, and besides that, it is work that can be so fulfilling. Girls and women are natural problem solvers, and you can solve the world’s greatest problems with technology." – Julie