In this episode, our guest was a teen mom and despite all the hardships ended up getting a computer engineering degree. She went on to get her MBA and in 2012 Janice Levenhagen-Seeley founded ChickTech. ChickTech is a non-profit that advocates for gender equality through high school workshops, training, and conferences. It aims at engaging women of all ages in the technology industry while working to create a better technology culture for all.
Janice is someone who lives by that principle through ChickTech’s development of high school workshop programs for girls and giving them access to female role models to spark interest in STEM fields and ultimately improve female representation in tech. Janice’s unique background also makes her an interesting role model for those who might not think they belong in the field:
- Most people who are involved with tech startups come from a wealthy background. Janice, however, grew up on a dairy farm with food stamps
- She had her son at 16, but went on to get her computer engineering degree right after high school anyway
- Janice ended up leaving tech and got her MBA instead due to imposter syndrome, sexual harassment, and discrimination
- She got back into technology after volunteering at a tech event for minority youth. She was inspired and empowered by that experience and knew she could change the industry and tech experience for other girls and women so they didn’t have to go through what she did
Despite a lot of lip service being paid to greater gender equality, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, as evidenced by the significant lack of female speakers at large tech conferences, such as CES. In contrast, ChickTech is hosting its first annual ACT-W National Conference on April 11, including 2,500 influential leaders and professionals in Phoenix, AZ, and speaking sessions, formal training workshops, one-on-one coaching, a career/exhibit fair, after-hours activities, and more. All proceeds go towards providing free STEM education programs to local high school girls and expanding the global ChickTech network to truly impact the reach of women in tech.
Listen to Janice’s story to learn more about her challenging and powerful STEM story.
Connect with Janice & ChickTech: