Women in IT: Boosting the number of women in the room

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Kara Fong is a recent graduate of the University of Washington – and she is one of Microsoft’s first hires out of its DigiGirlz program. DigiGirlz gives high school girls the opportunity to learn about careers in technology. Kara came to Microsoft in the summer of 2005 to attend a DigiGirlz event and has returned multiple times as a volunteer, high school intern, college intern and she just became a full-time employee in May of this year.

Seven years after her first time on campus, we found Kara decorating her office with Microsoft memorabilia and starting her new role as a Program Manager liaising with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like Lenovo and Fujitsu. Her framed Certificate of Completion from the DigiGirlz camp proudly sits on her shelf.

In an industry where we don’t have enough female talent, we wanted to learn how Kara was first attracted to technology, why she kept coming back to Microsoft and what’s next in her life.

Kara, what attracted you to the field of technology in the first place?
I grew up in a household of very strong and independent women. I refuse to adhere to stereotypes about appropriate industries for women. My dad said to me one day: “Since you spend so much time on the computer, why don’t you figure out how it works?” His question drove me to apply for the DigiGirlz program. There, I job-shadowed a woman named Michelle. One day, we attended a meeting where she was the only female in a room full of males. It was different and inspiring in so many ways.

Kara, share with me why you kept coming back to Microsoft.
There are many opportunities to innovate, discover your interests and work on different products. The employees here are diverse and fun. Most of the time, people here go out of their way to help each other – this means a lot to me.

How has DigiGirlz helped inspire you to pursue an IT career?
It presented me with endless possibilities. There has been a decline in the number of females getting into technology, but Microsoft’s DigiGirlz program is changing that for the better.

What did your internships do for you – professionally and personally?
My internships at Microsoft helped me find my niche. I’ve grown a lot as an individual and as a team player. I got the chance to work on real products that impacted the world.

Kara, what’s next for you?
I’m looking forward to giving back to the DigiGirlz program that’s made such a positive influence in my life. I want to tell other girls: If you have a genuine passion for something, let it drive you to be successful.

 

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