KOKOMO, Ind. — Being a woman in a traditionally male field of study can feel lonely at times.
One Indiana University Kokomo student learned she is not alone, as one of more than 20,000 attendees of the Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest celebration of women in technology, in Houston, Texas.
There’s strength in numbers,” said Diana Deyoe, a senior from Greentown, a communication arts major with a minor in informatics. “Sometimes I can get bogged down and feel like I’m the only one with this interest. But, when you go to a conference and you are surrounded by amazing women who are all studying STEM and technology, it’s nice to know there are tons of women going through the same thing you are.”
She was able to attend the conference with a scholarship that covered all of her expenses, which she was nominated for by Chen Zhong, assistant professor of computer science. Zhong is the faculty advisor for IU Kokomo’s Women in Technology student organization.
Whenever an opportunity like this arises, I think, ‘That’s why I’m at IU Kokomo,’” Deyoe said. “Your professors care about you and think of you when they hear of these opportunities and help make it possible for you to go.”
She enjoyed attending sessions specifically geared towards issues women face in the technology field, such as overcoming imposter syndrome, or the feeling you didn’t earn where you are, and how to take charge of your career.
I really learned how to navigate being a young professional in a workforce in which I might be a minority,” she said.
It also gave her something to add to her résumé when she starts looking for a job when she graduates in May.
This is one more experience I can talk about with a future employer,” she said. “This and my KEY trips add to what I’m learning. College is not just going to classes. Your learning takes place way more outside the classroom.
Deyoe’s favorite part of the event was the career fair and technology showcase, with hundreds of vendors and companies with job and internship possibilities. She noted that Disney Imagineers were on hand with animatronics showing how they build the rides for their parks, and Apple, Microsoft, and Bank of America were also among the career possibilities.
She also appreciated the opportunity to hear keynote speaker Anita Hill, who spoke about the #MeToo movement, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, and her own experience when she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, when he was confirmed as a justice.
She looks forward to sharing what she learned with the other members of the Women in Technology club and encouraging more women to consider STEM fields. She said it’s not unusual to be the only woman in one of her informatics classes, or to be one of two.
I think we hit an age where it starts to be segmented, that we start to believe that girls are good at the arts, and guys are good at the sciences, and it’s not as cool for us to be in those fields. Everyone is good at math, everybody is good at technology, they just need someone to encourage them to go for it.”
Deyoe recalls being astonished that she easily succeeded in her statistics class at the California junior college she attended before transferring to IU Kokomo, because “as girls, we’re taught we’re not good at that.”
When selecting her program as she transferred, she initially didn’t know what informatics was, but when she looked into it, she thought it was a good fit with her communication arts major.
Her career goal is to work in communications for a museum.
Informatics is all about computers and human interaction,” she said. “I like the idea of integrating technology with communications, and I believe having that background will help me in the long run.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.