Women in tech reach out to students in San Diego

Viasat employees share work experiences with aspiring tech employees

Alex Miller

The percentage of women in the tech workforce is on a slow but steady rise. Women make up nearly 30% of today’s tech employees, an improvement from years past but one that represents a still-yawning equality gap.

The greatest challenge women in tech cite are lack of opportunities for advancement, and close behind that reason are lack of female role models and mentorship.

On International Women’s Day, several Viasat employees did their part to meet that need, participating in a program for high school students interested in potential technology careers. Women Who Inspire featured panels of women from several industries who shared their career journeys and work experiences with students from San Diego’s Hoover High School.

Viasat was the lead sponsor for the virtual event, coordinated by the nonprofit Generation STEAM.

Based on comments by panelists, students, and organizers, Women Who Inspire was a win for both.

“Together, we touched the lives of 1,400 students through a day of thoughtful conversations,” said Sara Pagano, managing director of Generation STEAM. “The day brought inspiration to so many young girls, showcasing what a future path could look like and highlighting to young boys the image of a strong female in industry, allowing them to share that respect and support among their female peers and family members. They also learned a bit about what a STEAM career looks like for any passionate student.”

Viasat employees shared stories ranging from the nontraditional routes their career paths have taken to the importance of honesty and vulnerability in the workplace, and the applicability of engineering skills to multiple careers.

“There are so many fields and directions you can take with an engineering degree, it can be scary and overwhelming,” said Anna Kochalko, a reliability engineering manager for Viasat. “Reliability engineering is not what I studied, but it’s what I’ve come into in my career.

“An engineering degree can also feed into a law career, finance, consulting, or other fields. It teaches you how to think critically and logically and work through things, versus memorizing equations, formulas and vocabulary. It can provide you with a lot of options.”

More info

To watch the recordings of these panels, visit: https://lovestemsd.org/women-who-inspire

Viasat employee Emily Fitzgerald is hosting a series of 10 podcasts as part of the Women Who Inspire program, coming to Spotify soon. Learn more at: https://lovestemsd.org/women-who-inspire