San Diego ranks as a top contender for STEM jobs in the country and to show off our local talent, the first San Diego Tech Women's Summit kicks off Saturday. The conference, held at Qualcomm, brings in hundreds of engineers, researchers, scientists and every woman in between.
Behind it all, there's CEO of Athena Holly Smithson, video game coder Jillian Moore, and senior program manager at Intuit Kimbra Brookstein. The summit creates a space where women can share stories and learn new skills to skyrocket their careers in STEM.
"Women are extremely underrepresented in tech," said Brookstein. "So our goal is to expose them at an earlier age expose them to that community so people can really see the awesome work you can do."
With more than 75 percent of STEM jobs held by men, they're all facing a similar battle.
"Women are having to go through work environments where it feels like a boy's club," said Moore. "They have to feel like they have to act more masculine to fit in, but they can't act too masculine because then they'll seem bossy or too assertive."
The summit is focused on helping women navigate through a male-dominated industry. "Those are some of the soft skills that they're not teaching you at UCSD school of engineering perhaps," said Smithson. "How are you doing to self-advocate your superpower and why you're so excited to be a part of the team?"
The event comes as San Diego ranks as one of the top tech hubs in the country. "We have companies like Apple and Amazon and Tesla that have just come into the San Diego marketplace in the last 18 months," said Smithson.
And the opportunities are only growing. "The goal would be for folks to walk away with that understanding and really new resources and tools to stay in San Diego," said Brookstein. "The impact stretches far past this weekend by drawing in and keeping talent right in our own backyard."
"I'm pretty confident that in the next five years it's not gonna be Silicon Valley and it's not gonna be Boston," said Smithson. "It's gonna be San Diego that gets to celebrate attracting very diverse and very robust talent to the region. It gives you a sense that there is hope."
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