I grew up in a house filled with gadgets and computers and floppy disks and dot matrix printers. I loved playing Jeopardy and Monopoly after typing DOS commands on our PC. It was always just for fun and I never thought it could lead to a fulfilling career.
Neither of my parents had a college degree, so navigating the higher ed terrain was an exercise in trial and error. I never believed I was good enough in math or science to get a STEM focused baccalaureate and so I focused on business and the humanities during my time at San Francisco State. Even in the center of the technology universe, I didn't know ONE PERSON who was a computer science major.
You can't be what you can't see.
I finished my BA in Asian American studies and understood the importance of representation and community, but thought my place would be educating others. I was surrounded by women and other Filipin@s, but still no one in technology. I took creative license in my role at a major bank to teach business partners about the different social media platforms we used and was dubbed the resident 'techie', but still never thought I could move into a technical role.
I got married, bought a house, had a son, but it wasn't until I had my daughter that it really hit me. How am I going to be the parent and role model I want to be for her, if I don't follow my passion? I want her to become an independent, driven, tenacious woman, and I knew that I had to show her by my actions.
"I think [girls are] not seeing role models - they're seeing boys who start Facebook or Google, they're not seeing girls. It's really hard to imagine yourself as something that you don't see, particularly when you're a kid." - Chelsea Clinton
I've found myself in inclusive tech communities, but still hadn't felt like I fully belonged.
It wasn't until this past weekend at Google's Women Techmakers summit that I saw my first real (self) representation. Justine Rivero emceed the event and I was extremely surprised at my visceral reaction to seeing a Pinay doing what I had dreamt of doing -- it brought me to tears. I knew representation was important, but I never knew first hand. I approached her during the break and was able to tell her how much her being there mattered to me. She's doing it, and she's proving that I can too.
But the one thing I'm looking forward to most of all is representing for my son and daughter, and perhaps a random person in a crowd, a female, multiethnic programmer. They can be what they can now see.