Girls Talk Tech at Tandon

An Annual Event Encourages Young Women to Keep Crashing Through the Silicon Ceiling

Women in STEM careers sitting on Girls Talk Tech panel

Representatives from top tech companies speak at the annual Girls Talk Tech event.

When The Lancet, one of the oldest and most prestigious medical journals in the world, publishes a 118-page report about the institutional and systemic barriers that negatively affect women scientists, as it did in early February, it’s plain that there is still much work to be done to achieve diversity, inclusion, and gender balance in the STEM fields. The NYU Tandon School of Engineering has long been committed to knocking down those barriers and is already engaging in what one group of authors from The Lancet report terms “best practices,” including “changing the culture and climate within an organization by normalizing diversity” so “women [can] feel welcome, safe, supported, successful, and respected in these disciplines and girls [can] see their aspirations ... as tangible options.”

Among Tandon’s efforts are an annual “Girls Talk Tech” event, organized in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Enrollment Management, the Wasserman Center for Career Development, and the Google Anita Borg Scholars Community (a group named in honor of a pioneering computer scientist celebrated for breaking the “silicon ceiling”). The Event allows women from throughout NYU, as well as from local high schools, to come to Tandon to meet and network with representatives from top tech companies, learn about education and career opportunities, and hear an inspiring — but unvarnished — panel discussion.

young female student in hijab“One of the highlights of the night for me was meeting company representatives to speak about internships and career opportunities,” Dina Himed (pictured left), a sophomore computer science major who came to Brooklyn from NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences, said. “I was particularly excited to learn about Something Digital, an agency that works with many innovative brands on their ecommerce platforms. They have wonderful programs for aspiring developers and seem very dedicated to mentorship.” She continued, “Besides that, it was great to come to Tandon and see the MakerSpace. I’m definitely going to come more often now and hope to one day get involved with a project there.”

In addition to Something Digital, companies represented at the resource fair set up at the event included Google, Facebook, and Goldman Sachs.

The panel discussion that followed was moderated by computer science major De’Ane Kennedy, who ably questioned participants about their motivations for choosing a STEM field, their careers, and how they coped with sometimes being the only woman member of a team.

Madison Li, a student from the Brooklyn Latin School who attended along with her parents, was inspired. “I’m not sure yet exactly where I will attend college or what I’ll study,” she said. “But I learned a lot tonight that will be useful no matter what I decide.”

Among the advice she and other attendees received:

Zinzi Budd, Google Software Engineer

“I am lucky to work on a very diverse team, so I know they exist. If you make diversity a priority during your job search, you will find a company that prioritizes it as well.”

Yasemin Hizal, Something Digital Human Resources Manager

“Public policies are improving, and that’s having a positive effect in the industry. For example, employers are not allowed to ask you questions about salary history now, so you can’t be penalized for the lack of parity in pay that has been the norm for so long.”

Melody Park, LinkedIn Software Engineer

“It isn’t a totally bad thing to be one of the few women on a team. It makes you stand out in some ways and can help ensure that people will listen to what you have to contribute.”

Raagini Lalwani, Goldman Sachs VP

“Accept the fact that until the ratios change there may be more men than women in your workplace. At times, you may even be the only woman. But at the end of the day, you’re all simply colleagues. Treat everyone with respect and demand to be treated the same.”