LEIA SEFKIN

What makes me feel powerful is the intelligent and driven women in my community that support me in everything I do. I am constantly inspired by these strong women who are great role models and the best friends.

As a woman working in the tech industry, a very much male dominated field, I have had my share of struggles to feel empowered and to be recognized. It's been a long road of constantly fighting bias and condescension. I feel fortunate to have been able to grow along side other amazing women, and to have had so many inspiring mentors and advocates. I know I wouldn't have made it to where I am today if it wasn't for sheer determination tempered by expectations of my mentors, for whom giving up was never an option.

Working in tech one of the hardest things to deal with is a lack of trust from other (usually male) colleagues. My own knowledge and experience is considered less valuable or trustworthy simply because of my gender. I've had to develop tactics for dealing with this, some as simple as repeating myself, others a little more subtle like body language and tone of voice.
The most heartening and satisfying thing is now that I've gotten to the point where I feel more confident in myself, I can see it reflected in others. There's a certain amount of satisfaction in having had to fight so hard to get to this point, and to be in a position where I can share my experience with others and be a mentor myself. Together I believe that we can change the attitude and paradigm around women in STEM fields.