Tuesday, April 2, 2013

RSC Supports Women in Technology

Originally published in the March 30 issue of The Tempe Republic.

Tempe-based Rio Salado College, supports women in technology both academically and as an employer.

Lisa Purcell
 Client Support Analyst
Rio Salado Client Support Analyst Lisa Purcell is responsible for computer and telecommunications equipment at the college, and has a personal interest in networking.

"It’s a challenging job and I am always learning," Purcell said. "That is a benefit to me. Technology is not a dull, day-to-day, same-old-thing kind of career. I think it is fun to run around the college and fix computers, printers, phones, and whatever else it may be."

Purcell said she believes technically inclined individuals are respected for their skills regardless of gender, and that it can put women on more even ground in the workplace.

"I feel that technically inclined women probably are treated a little bit differently than other women," Purcell said. "You are looked upon as a person who can fix an issue or at least help and give guidance in technical situations."

"It's not a bad thing. Employees call me directly because they know I can troubleshoot and help solve a problem," Purcell said. "I think this probably happens to technically inclined men as well. Gender is just not as big an issue when it comes to technical fields."

According to the 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce report, Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation, Purcell is probably right. Women working in science and technology benefit from a smaller gender wage gap and earn 33% more than their non-technical counterparts.

Jennifer Freed
Dean of Instruction 
Jennifer Freed, who currently serves as the dean of instruction and academic affairs, was head of the e-Learning design program at Rio Salado for several years. She is well known for her interest in gadgets and technology.

"I would have to say that unintentionally, my interest in technology has become a defining feature of my personality," Freed said. "If you had asked anyone 12 years ago, 'techie' wouldn’t have been used to describe me at all. However, since then, the interest has become a real part of my personality. It influences not only my job, but my hobbies, interests, and I would even say my parenting."

Freed said that she is constantly on the lookout for new technology to share with her five-year-old daughter.

"I'm always looking for something new - from the iPod doc on her crib when she was a baby to the apps and gadgets that we play with now for fun."

Freed said she believes that her daughter, and girls in general, will benefit from the abundance of technology in everyday life.

"I would say everyone has better opportunity, but because of that, girls have benefited " Freed said. "It is such a normal part of our life that she can’t help but grow up exploring technology and gadgetry. In the past this wasn't the case. Of those who were lucky enough to have this type of technology available, only a small subset ever explored it, and it was typically the boys."

Harpreet Maan
Web Technician
Rio Salado Web Technician Harpreet Maan started her career in technology when she emigrated from India to the United States in 1998. At the time, work permits were available primarily for positions in technology.

"I really wanted to work. I had taken programming classes, but my degree was in advertising. I wanted to do something creative," Maan said. "Making websites uses a combination of design and technology, so I got a certification in web development."

Maan said that her programming knowledge makes the process of designing a webpage easier and more efficient.

"The programming classes really helped me to understand the back end of web technology, and the advertising degree helps me on the front end and marketing aspects of my job," Maan said. “It creates balance. It really worked out perfectly.”

Rio Salado college is a member of the National Information, Security and Geospatial Technologies Consortium. NISGTC is a collaboration of Maricopa Community College entities offering information technology education and career training to underserved populations.