#CodeLikeAGirl Spotlight: Aisling Douglas
This year we've introduced Influenster #CodeLikeAGirl Scholarship in which we'll award $1,000 to five female students pursuing a degree in a technical field of study. Through this scholarship, we hope not only to inspire the next generation of female innovators in the tech industry, but to also celebrate amazing women innovators in tech now!
Meet Information Architect, Influenster, and professor, Aisling Douglas. This woman can do it ALL. From coding to design, she really is the full package when it comes to a career in tech! To find out how she went from a roller rink to a career in tech read on!
So, tell us a little about your job and what you do on a day to day basis...
I am an Information Architect, which means I help design and plan web applications much in the way a civil architect designs and plans a building. Instead of designing physical materials, however, I design information.
What's your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is being part of a process that goes from something imagined to something usable. The process from concept to implementation is full of collaboration from people all across the tech sector, from project managers to designers and engineers. My job allows me the chance to be hands-on in the business side of a project, without losing touch with my original passions – coding and design. It’s an amazing feeling to see something you envisioned in your head come to fruition!
How did you get interested in the STEM field? Did any specific person, product, or organization introduce you to it? What fostered your interest?
In high school, everyone had personal websites on different services like Angelfire or Geocities. These were templates, but I wanted mine to be different so I learned a few snippets of code and it really went from there. Through the years I would learn more and more as friends needed help. Friends turned into clients, and a hobby became a career. After getting married and having children, my husband often encouraged me to go to school to further my knowledge, so I enrolled in college for web development - the rest is history!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For the most part, I always pictured myself in the arts – any medium would have made me happy. Truthfully, my chosen career has given me the ability to bring my artistic side together with my love of technology – something I never thought I could do!
What was your first ever job?
My first ever job was at a roller rink. It was a blast!
What is a piece of advice you would give to yourself 5 years ago?
I would tell myself to think bigger – it’s okay to have higher aspirations than your current situation. If you would have told me that I would I could start my career late, LOVE my career, help start an initiative to get other women interested in IT, and teach at a college level all within the next 5 years I would have said you’re crazy. But that’s just it – anything is possible.
What advice would you give to a girl who is interested in coding or another tech focused career, but doesn't know how or where to start?
Start with online courses. There are tons of free resources to catapult you into your career. Also, there are excellent organizations that are out there to help! Girl Develop It, Ladies Learning Code, Black Girls Code, and Women Who Code are just a few examples. Check out your local Hackerspace to see what they’ve got going on as well. My local Hackerspace, Hackforge, always has classes and workshops for people at any level.
Which tech gadgets are your must-haves? Which are the ones you simply cannot live without?
My iPhone! My entire life is organized in that device. I also love beauty tech gadgets!
Why should women be encouraged to study and pursue a career in tech?
Diversity in the workplace is absolutely essential to any field, not just tech. Right now, in software engineering there is a male to female ratio of about 10:1. Yes, you read that right – 10 men for every one woman. That ratio is unheard of in other industries. Part of the problem is that there are not enough women enrolling in Computer Science, and I’m sure there are a variety of explanations for that. I always say let’s begin by breaking the stereotypes about what working in IT is like – tech is not a basement full of nerds with 6 monitors and the matrix code on each one. Tech is you. Interested in art? There is ample room in IT for you. Are you a math and science buff? Great! Tech has a lucrative career waiting for you. Business minded? You guessed it, you’ll do very well in IT. Get ahead of the curve of technology by being creating technology!
So, are you feeling inspired to #CodeLikeAGirl?! What's your dream tech job? Tell us in the comments below!
If you are a female student studying in the STEM field make sure to apply for the Influenster #CodeLikeAGirl Scholarship!