Meet Dana- A powerful woman in tech who explains her confidence in entering a male dominated workforce! If she can do it, you can too!
Dana, tell us more about yourself!
I am a rising senior at Miami University who was born and raised in the city of Chicago! I have a passion for all things pink and blockchain.
What inspired you to major in Information Systems?
As a kid, I obviously didn’t know this would be the path I followed. My mom was of the first graduating computer science class at her university and the only female in the program. Growing up, she always told me the field would be good for me. Naturally, as a little girl, I didn’t want to do what my mother did… Oh how I was wrong! Fast forward to college where I took my first Information Systems/Computer Science course as a prerequisite for the business school. I spent a couple of weeks dealing with SQL. That’s when the coding languages started to click and I decided to teach myself more and more. Knowing I've always wanted to go more into the business side of things, Information Systems seemed like the perfect fit!
What is it like being a woman entering the male dominated workforce?
Personally, I LOVE it. Yes, some of the stereotypes are true. My classes are mostly guys, my professors are mostly men, and people still have a pretty stunned look on their face when I tell them I am an Information Systems major with a focus in computer science and blockchain technology. But if you ask me, it’s only made me THAT much more powerful. There might be a stereotype of what a women in technology looks like, but I do not fit it… and that’s part of my super power.
People have said time and time again that being a woman can put us at a serious disadvantage in a space like this. I have found it to be quite the opposite. It’s a really exciting time to be a woman in the workforce, especially in the technology industry.
**I actually wrote a piece on this topic if you'd like to check it out! https://www.theblockchainbarbie.com/home/2018/3/28/all-eyes-on-me-in-the-center-of-the-ring-why-i-want-attention-for-being-a-girl
How can you inspire other women to enter the male dominating workforce with no fear?
Being a woman in a male dominating workforce is POWERFUL! I have a sense of pride knowing I was nothing like what they expected me to be. I walk into a male dominated room and know their eyes are on me. Am I intimated? Absolutely not. With all that scrutiny, I’m left with the chance to surprise them. I know what I’m saying will be heard and I am confident enough in my own abilities to know what I’m saying holds value and deserves to be recognized.
Now more than ever, companies are looking to diversify. In that sense, being a woman is to my advantage, so why not use it? I am being sought out because I AM a woman!
This is the thought process I encourage women to have.
Being a college student, are there many girls in tech classes? If not, what are options that you believe that would bring more women into tech classes?
There are not an overwhelming amount of girls in my tech class, but I find more and more appearing every year! The areas I find the least amount of girls is the extra curricular aspect. I am the president of the Information Systems and Analytics Organization and I am also on the exec board of the Miami University Blockchain Club. Both organizations are huge in number, but have hardly ANY girls. I would love to see more females getting involved in a setting other than just because they have to go to classes for their degree.
Oftentimes, women do not speak up in a male dominated workforce. What are your thoughts on that? What are some advice can give to women to speak up more often?
There should no reason to not speak up. My thought process is this:
Let's say I walk into a meeting or a group where I am the only girl. Sure, there might be some other men in the room (although certainly not all or even most) who look at me and think "Wow this girl doesn't belong. I bet she is a dumb blonde." Therefore, when it is my turn speak, everyone's eyes will be even more focused on me... because they are waiting for me to be stupid or say something dumb. So, when I actually have something intelligent to say, you better believe my point will be extra heard from the sole fact these men were waiting for me to an idiot.
Who cares if I'm originally getting the attention for a negative reason? At least I have that attention for when I actually impress them! In my opinion, that's almost an advantage. If I was just another guy in a boring suit no one would even look up.
What is Blockchain Guide? How did it begin?
Recently, I published my "Blockchain Guide for (not so) Dumb Blondes" on my website, The Blockchain Barbie. Essentially, it is an extremely broken down, plain and simple way to explain this crazy disruptive technology called blockchain. I am extremely active and passionate in the space, but have found it difficult to explain it to others.
Imagine having to explain the internet to someone who had ZERO clue what the internet is? That's what it is like trying to explain blockchain. Yes, there are a number of "Blockchain for Dummies" type guides out there, but I still find myself needing a thesaurus to understand half of the language - not affective if you ask me! I wanted to create something that could truly break it down as easy as possible regardless of your interest in technology.
I wrote "Blockchain Guide for (not so) Dumb Blondes" in a extremely relaxed tone (much like how we speak) and geared it towards people and especially girls in my generation. The entire guide is filled with references to things like Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, and more. Looking for a career in fashion? Passionate about wine? Absolutely no interest in technology? This guide is still for you.
I believe blockchain will touch every area of business... and more. I want everyone to have at least a basic understanding. Imagine knowing about the internet before the internet!
Explain your journey that got you to this current point in your life.
In terms of blockchain - which has become my main passion - I got into the space a few years ago. I did some work with a social think tank that combined fashion and fintech - looking for solutions using disruptive technologies. I quickly took a liking to the blockchain aspect and helped drive that sector.
This past year, a friend of mine had mentioned that he was starting a blockchain club and I quickly jumped on board. I started off as head of PR and am now the head of blockchain research for not only the club (MUBC), but also the university as a whole. In less than a year, our club has grown to about 300 members. It has given me many opportunities including meeting with companies in Australia and submitting research papers on behalf of Miami University. In my free time, I have been working towards coding my own blockchain.
Last summer, I interned for a technology start up, Avionos. There, I ran a #womenintech campaign through social media and blog posts. While back at school, I worked remotely and continued out some of those ideas, being published a number of times.
With my passion for blockchain and drive for #womenintech, I decided to create my site - www.theblockchainbarbie.com. The purpose of The Blockchain Barbie is to write articles on different sectors of the industry in a way that is interesting for people and specifically girls in my generation. There is such a notion that technology is "nerdy" and for men, but I find it to be quite the opposite.I post weekly articles on different industries that blockchain is impacting - such as diamonds, wine, healthcare, foreign policy, and more. I am excited to see where it takes me!
What are some tips that you can give to women who wants to follow your path?
Follow your own path, not just mine! Over the years, I've found tons of woman to look up to and to mimic ranging from people I know (my mom), people in the industry I admire (Karlie Kloss), and even fictional characters who have mottos to live by (Elle Woods), but I found that my greatest successes have come from just being me.
In life, you will always find people who want to change you. Don't let them. In this day and age, it can be hard for one to really accept and love themselves, but how can you expect others to love and approve you if you don't even love and approve of yourself? Be your own biggest cheerleader and the rest of the fans will follow. In a generation of social media, genuineness can be hard to come by. Don't stray from who you are, where you want to be, and the morals that will get you there.
Why do you believe that Women’s Empowerment is important?
I believe Women's Empowerment is important because we bring something new to the table. Having now served on multiple boards as the only female, I have seen first hand why a women's "touch" is important. There are simply things that girls think about that most boys do not - and vice versa! I look at it less as "anything you can do I can do better" and more as "I do a lot of things differently and that's why having both of our perspective's is important." There is no man without a woman, nor is there a woman without a man and I think that is something extremely important to remember in this day and age.
What are some future goals that you have for yourself?
Eventually, I would like to enter the anti-fraud and blockchain field. I would love to apply blockchain technology to things I passionate about - such as wine, luxury goods, fashion, and more. I think blockchain for anti-fraud is the perfect way to not only combine the two, but also make an impact.
Going forward, I am really looking to grow The Blockchain Barbie. I think there is a lot of potential and really nothing quite like it on the market. I want to show people and especially young girls, that being in technology isn't just for guys and it is definitely not for only nerdy people. There is such a stigma of what a tech girl looks like and I am certainly not it. Growing up as a competitive dancer, cheerleader, and model, you don't have to wear cargo pants and sit in a dark room without any talking in order to be successful (although if that is your style - you do you!)
The purpose of the Fabuluxe platform is to help women feel fabulous and sophisticated. What advice or words of encouragement that you can give to our readers about feeling fabulous as a woman?
Check answer to tips for women following my path! :)
Instagram - @dschwo16Website: www.theblockchainbarbie.com