“This girl gang of tech women will revolutionize the tech industry from the inside out.”
Ruther Farmer’s proudest accomplishment is launching Aspirations in Computing, a talent development program for young women that identifies participants in high school and then supports them through college graduation.
“That community now numbers more than 12,000 girls, and I continue to have a relationship with them. And now I’m in a position where not only am I helping to shine a light on them and put them in front of people and opportunities, but they are doing that for each other.”
She looks forward to the day when truly diverse teams build technology, because “we’re going to solve a much broader set of problems.”
“People tend to address things that are relevant to them; you’re going to innovate to solve problems that others like you are having, and dismiss other things as ‘less relevant.’ That’s why we haven’t seen as much innovation in women’s health, things like bras and breast pumps and menstruation tools.”
She is also optimistic about the ways increased female participation in STEM fields will impact organizational cultures.
“Having watched now 12,000 girls progress through high school and college and into the workforce, the way that they interact with each other is really inspiring. I’ve seen young women help each other on applications for a scholarship they’re all competing for. It’s ‘coopetition’ — cooperation and competition.”
Ruthe advises young women that not every decision is make-or-break: “I see young women getting really caught up in ‘oh, I have to get the right internship’ or ‘the right college,’ but you’re going to have many opportunities to make choices that will have an impact on your life. Take it in stride and keep moving.” She also cautions against comparing yourself to wunderkinds:
“In our society there can be this obsession with exceptionalism, and it sets people up to feel like they’re failing when they’re actually doing really well. You don’t have to be better than everyone else to be OK.”
Written by Adora Svitak, Wogrammer Journalism Fellow. These stories are proudly told in partnership with AnitaB.org in a joint effort to showcase inspiring and diverse women in STEM at the 2019 ASU/GSV Summit.