It’s funny how some memories stick with you. I once toured a company that decorated each floor with a different theme. While I couldn’t tell you what all the themes were, the floor that was the most memorable for me was the one dedicated to honoring trailblazing women coders and thought it was a fantastic way to honor them. 

Today is International Women’s Day and a time for recognizing and celebrating women. When I was asked how Rustici could do just that, I immediately thought of that floor and the contributions those women made. While we have many “Superwomen” at Rustici, I knew I wanted to learn from our women working in technology roles and hear their stories and advice for women wanting to enter into the industry. 

Sara Topic – Software developer 

What’s your favorite thing about your role?

I like owning parts of the codebase and having a say in implementation decisions and discussions about future work. With my LTI work, I read the specs and was part of the conversations that decided how a lot of the parts were implemented. It was a team effort, but I drove a lot of it. Now when there are questions about it, I look to see if it’s feasible and make any changes related to it.

What experiences or classes led you to want to pursue a career in tech?

I had a great internship the summer after freshman year. The environment was very supportive, and it was very cool to know that the work I was doing would (hopefully) end up having a positive impact on someone’s life one day. I had to do most of my problem solving independently, which helped develop my confidence in myself as an engineer and solidified my desire to pursue a career in tech. 

What career moment are you most proud of?

In 2020, I gave a tech talk about micropython at PyTennessee, an annual python conference in Nashville. 

What advice would you give women wanting to enter into the tech industry?

I would encourage them to seek out mentorship and community. There are many ways to go about this, but I have personally found Meetups (before COVID-19) and online groups/forums have worked best for me. 

Dottie Lindsey – Software developer 

What’s your favorite thing about your role?

Problem solving. I know that’s a bit of a cheesy answer, but it is. I do like when it intersects with making people happy. Solving a puzzle, finding a solution and then sometimes finding a better solution later on.

What experiences or classes led you to want to pursue a career in tech?

The 3D animation software I was using in a high school summer class was SO painful that I thought I could come up with something better. That’s what started it. 

What career moment are you most proud of?

When I presented at iFEST. It was a lower technical skill presentation, but afterward people came up to me and said they now understood what xAPI is. It felt good to hear that feedback among these elaborate and technical presentations.

What advice would you give women wanting to enter into the tech industry? 

I wish I would have known that there is someone who knows how to overcome and help with any barriers to entry. There are a lot more options than when I was in college. Check out organizations like Women Who Code and Power to Fly. They’re really welcoming and a lot lower stakes. There are also a lot more accessible paths to get into programming now if you can’t afford a college degree or can’t take time off work. 

Lara Abdurazak – Quality assurance engineer

What’s your favorite thing about your role?

I know I’m helping others by finding bugs and releasing a quality product, which is good customer service. Even though developers do their best, sometimes there are mistakes or bugs. The hard part is letting others know about it. This is a great role for women. We are always looking through others’ work and are empathetic when letting them know you found a bug.

What experiences or classes led you to want to pursue a career in tech?

Working in technology, it’s so meaningful. It’s not only coming up with new ideas, it’s also about figuring out how to make the ideas work. That’s why I wanted to work in this field. I so admire women who are developers.

What career moment are you most proud of?

Delivering good products to customers and finding a hidden bug in the software that no one else can see, but I discovered it. 

What advice would you give women wanting to enter into the tech industry? What do you wish you’d known?

Just ask. It took me a long time to ask for anything. It’s one of the most valuable things. If you don’t ask, you may never know what’s possible. Always remain positively curious, and spend time thinking about future strategies. Finding a mentor to help you grow and having people you can count on will be invaluable throughout your entire career. Stay determined, work hard and never be afraid to voice your opinion on trying out your idea. Women are afraid to give their opinions in the tech industry. Don’t be afraid.

Tammy Rutherford – Managing director

What’s your favorite thing about your role?

The wide variety of things I get to do every day. As the managing director, I’m responsible for the company and making sure we’re successful and, most importantly, that the people of Rustici have the support they need to do great work. I’m pulled in a lot of directions and interact with a lot of our staff. I enjoy working more with the developers and helping decide what we build next and why. 

What experiences or classes led you to want to pursue a career in tech?

I came to Rustici with very little experience working with software. Part of why I wanted to work here was to push myself careerwise. Fortunately, we have great developers at Rustici willing to teach me, so most of my tech knowledge is thanks to Rustici 101s.

What career moment are you most proud of?

Honestly, becoming the managing director in Oct. 2020. I came to Rustici with a lot of  business expertise, but I had a lot to learn about software products and working in the tech space. The culmination of those experiences combined with a lot of hard work is the MD role and validating all that time and learning. It doesn’t get better than that. 

What advice would you give for women pursuing leadership roles in tech?

This is for women pursuing leadership roles in any industry. You have to understand multiple facets of the business. Understand your people and ask yourself what you can do to inspire them and help them see how their work contributes to the overall business. Knowing this is critical in helping them put the pieces together.

Alica is our technical copywriter who captivates audiences with comical relief to the eLearning standards. Every year, she volunteers as a reporter for the Daily Dragon and has been an extra in numerous movies and television shows.