Last Monday night, Amy McDonald Sandjideh spoke in Chapman Auditorium to round out Trinity’s Women in Technology lecture series.
Sandjideh brought stories of her experience, advice for students looking to follow in her footsteps and even Android robot puzzles for the audience in the most-attended lecture of the series.
Sandjideh opened with stories of her early experiences with computers and of how her family, particularly her father, encouraged her to learn about computers and eventually pursue a degree in mathematics.
“I just had a couple of interactions with a computer when I was young,” Sandjideh said. “I didn’t know how I was going to use them, I just knew I wanted to.”
Sandjideh also talked about her experience in college at Tulane University, where she and a few other women formed a club for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Her stories of personal experiences and how she got to where she is today registered well with students in the audience.
“I enjoyed how much of her talk was about her experiences,” said first year Grace Frye. “She talked about how she faced different challenges, what she did to overcome them and choices that defined her career. Everything was really real.”
In terms of her career, Sandjideh worked at EA.com and Dreamworks prior to her current position as a technical program manager at Google. She spoke positively of her experience as a woman at these companies. She did, however, mention that an unconscious bias against women does exist.
“I was surprised by her acknowledgement of the unconscious bias in our society, and she caused us to experience it,” said junior Taylor Mobley. “She told a story where management was asking her to take on a big job. After telling the story, she said the audience probably pictured the managers as men, which I did, but they were women.”
In that story, Sandjideh explained that she was pregnant at the time, and throughout the lecture she told of her experience as a parent in the workforce. She noted that the companies she has worked for have been very flexible in terms of understanding that employees have duties as parents as well as in the workplace.
Sandjideh said she hopes to see equal pay for women in the future, as well as a more reasonable critical mass, or percentage of women, in technology fields. Her presentation encouraged some potential future computer scientists.
“It really applied to me because I plan to major in computer science, so her lecture and her career are very relatable to what I want to do,” Frye said.
Students also agreed that both Monday night’s lecture, and the series as a whole have been beneficial and informative.
“All of the speakers have had strong commitment to their passions, and it’s really inspiring because they all seem to be doing what they love and what they really want to be doing,” Frye said.
Mobley concurred with Frye on the insightfulness of the speakers this semester.
“The speakers are intelligent and successful women who have helped pave the way and provide hope that there is potential for improvement in the future,” Mobley said.
More information about Sandjideh and other speakers in the series can be found at womenandtechnologyproject.com.