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There’s not much I know about women. Ok scratch that, I don’t really know much of anything about women.  About the only thing I do know is that they are driven, smart, and way more organized than men (or at least me).

Somewhere, someone just said, “Amen to that!”

As a man, I definitely need the help of women. I’d like to take this time, and, on behalf of men like me everywhere, say “Thank You.” Thank you for all you do to support, encourage, and basically keep everyone around you on track. Without you, we’d be lost. (Can you tell I’m getting married soon? I’m all mushy!) Anyways…

My one piece of knowledge about women was proven true during April’s RTP 180 as Deirdre Clarke, Caterina Gallippi, Gayle Hagler, Gloria Bell, Kureli Sankar, and Fran Ligler took the stage to share their stories about Women in Tech.

All of the women above hold multiple PhD’s, are directors of the Women in Tech conference, engineers, professionals volunteering over 100 hours a year to programs focused on girls, and patent holders. That’s a pretty solid list of accolades racked up from six speakers! I’d encourage you to go watch all of their talks on YouTube when you have some spare time.

We all find our paths to our true calling through various ways. Below, you’ll find the reason or charge behind each of our RTP 180 speakers being involved in the world of tech:

“Average rate for women graduating from NC State today is 12%. When I graduated it was 30%! I was shocked that the percentage had gone down over the years. I knew I had to do something about this, which is where Tech Girlz comes in.” – Deirdre Clarke

“One of the big reasons I am a woman in tech is that I had the unconditional support of my large Italian family. We were the decedents of Galileo and Michelangelo, which meant we could do whatever we want.” – Caterina Gallippi

“I kind of fell into tech. There needed to be a better way to measure air pollution. The current methods are very rigorous, expensive, and stationary. My first project with the EPA was a decked out PT Cruiser loaded with high-end air monitors to help measure air pollution.”  – Gayle Hagler

“The Women in Tech conference knows that women in tech are not just girls who code. It goes well beyond girls who code. We run this conference to help break down false perceptions that when a woman says, “I work in tech” the brain doesn’t automatically think, “Oh, she’s a coder.” – Gloria Bell

“There is innovation in every part of the globe. We must focus on the continuation of our STEM efforts. This is why I volunteer so much of my time to help young girls to become introduced to STEM.” – Kureli Sankar

“Engineers are extremely important to help find practical solutions to help solve the “grand challenges” that we face. Challenges that must be solved to make sure we still exist in the future. I’m a big fan of collaboration. I have never done anything on my own in my entire life, which is why we teach our students how to collaborate with others.” – Fran Ligler

In summary, to say a woman is a coder is barely scratching the surface as to all the ways women contribute, lead, and pave the way for future generations in the tech industry. I’d encourage you delve deeper the next time a woman tells you “I work in tech”…don’t just assume she’s a developer, because I can almost guarantee she’s much more than that!

On a programming note, there will be no RTP 180 in May. I know I know…I was disappointed at first too, but there’s a great reason! Research Triangle Park is partnering with Moogfest, and will be at the festival during the typical time for RTP 180. They’ve invited the entire community to head to downtown Durham to enjoy a panel focused on Future Cities on Thursday, May 19th at 4pm. It’s free, and anyone is welcome! While you can purchase tickets, there’s also a lot of programming open to the community. From art exhibits to workshops and music, it should be a fun – if not a little weird – time!