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For Women in Tech, There’s No One Path to Success

Photo: Courtesy of Dena Haritos Tsamitis

If you speak to 10 women who have successful careers in technology, the odds are that each one will give you a different story about their trajectory.

Though we may envision our careers a certain way starting out — getting a degree, finding a job at a company, then working our way up the ladder at that same company — most women in tech will tell you it doesn’t go quite so smoothly.

Sue Carenbauer, senior director of e-commerce product management and technology at Giant Eagle, didn’t even consider a career in tech until an unexpected opportunity was presented.

“I had a passion for working in operational roles,” she says. “It wasn’t until an employer gave me the opportunity to transition into a tech-focused position, with little applicable expertise, that I found myself starting my technology career.”

Sue, who earned her business degree from Penn State University, has extensive experience in both technology and business-focused roles. She believes the ability to integrate both operational and technical perspectives has been a key to her career success.

Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of the Information Networking Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, was married with children before deciding to pursue her career in tech. After separating from her husband, Dena realized she wanted more for herself. So she learned to code.

“For me, coding was a stepping stone to a career I would never have imagined as a professor and academic department head in the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon,” she says. “[I created] educational opportunities for my engineering students.”

Dena’s story is proof that it’s never too late to have the career you want. After leaving college to raise a family, Dena returned to school and shifted from English to information science as her major, later attaining her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. Today, she is the inaugural recipient of the Barbara Lazarus Professorship in Information Networking.

Careers in tech not only benefit women, but the companies hiring them. According to a 2018 Forbes study, “Companies with women in 50 percent or more of leadership positions tend to see higher growth in sales and earnings.”

When more women begin to educate themselves on the opportunities available in tech, these leadership positions will be sought after and fulfilled, boosting revenue in these companies and improving the overall economy.

There is a difference out there waiting to be made, and women are the ones who will make it.

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