What’s the secret behind a successful career in tech? Is it the friends you make in elementary school, the college you go to or simply the whims you choose to follow along the way?
Turns out, it has a lot to do with your mother.
In reflection of Mother’s Day, I asked 12 amazing women in tech (local and otherwise), to share a story of how their mother or grandmother inspired their journey. Hopefully their stories serve as a reminder about all the influential women in your own life. There’s no better time than now to thank them.
1) Katherine Hague
Title: Co-Founder of @shoplocket (acquired by @PCH_Intl)
Location: Toronto & Silicon Valley
Story: My mom always made my sister and I feel like we could accomplish anything. She taught us that even if something might be male dominated, if we’re passionate about it, we should never let that be a barrier to our success. She has wholeheartedly supported us in pursuing all of our passions, without judgment or hesitation – from a very early age. She let us learn by doing, and always made a safe place for us to go if we failed. I owe so much to her never-ending support over the years.
2) Jenna Busch
Title: Founder of Legion of Leia, co-host of Most Craved
Location: Los Angeles
Story: My grandmother Rose (yes, Rose Busch…didn’t realize that was funny until about 5th Grade) would look at bits of tech that my sister and I would show her and say, ‘It’s like magic to me. I wish I’d had things like this when I was younger.’ Sometimes, when I’m yelling at a piece of technology for not working (which is going to get me in trouble when the singularity happens), the wonder she had about advances in tech just hits me over the head. It may take a minute, but whenever I think about what she said, it sinks in what a magical place all of this had made the world.
3) Lauren Cooney
Title: Sr. Director of Software Strategy, Cisco Systems
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Story: My mom instilled in me at an early age that I could do anything I put my mind to. She’s always been an amazing backer, supporter and fan. My path to tech wasn’t traditional, so it was great that she was always interested in what I was doing, working on and ultimately loves learning about it too.
Title: Director of Community at SheEO; Digital Media Strategist at Girls Raising; Director at Women Who Code TO
Story: I was born in Pakistan but I was never ever ever made to feel like I was lesser than a man. In fact my mom, who did her masters in computer science, told me I could do anything I want. She has always encouraged me to explore and live by my own terms.
5) Eryn O.
Title: PHP dev+tech lead at @Clockwork_tweet.
Location: Minnesapolis, Minnesota
Story: My mom works in the futures trading market, so I had access to computers (and saw women working with them) at a young age. She supported me while I got a computer science degree and and all sorts of nerdy things. But probably the single most important thing was that she convinced my dad to buy me an NES when I was 6.
6) Julie Patrick
Location: Greater Toronto Area
Story: My mom is a computer programmer, so I’ve been lucky enough to have a computer around the house since the early ’80s. My mom has taught me almost everything I know about technology and IT, including introducing me to email, ICQ, PowerPoint when they first launched. I was never a fan of programming in school, so she even helped me learn Basic. Today, I use what she taught me and continues to teach me, to engage my students in the classroom.
7) Sarah Stockdale
Title: Growth @ Tilt, Director of Speakers at TEDx Women.
Story: My mom has encouraged me to follow unconventional paths and to continue to make changes in my life until I find what makes me happy.
8) Karen So
Title: Top Secret
Location: Waterloo and Toronto
Story: My mom didn’t encourage me in the typical sense, but she never discouraged me either. I think that was the best kind of support. She always looked at the profession, over the gender.
9) Heather Wilde
Title: CTO, Entrepreneur, Coach, and Speaker @ROCeteer_inc
Location: Las Vegas
Story: When I was 7, my grandmother told me “You’re going to grow up to be an engineer.” I said, “But Grandma, I hate being around trains!” She then explained to me that, while that was one type of engineer, there was a vast category of engineering open to me should I want to learn. She was right!
10) Jennifer Moss
Title: CoFounder, CMO at Plasticity
Location: Somewhere in North America
Story: It wasn’t until I started on my own entrepreneurial journey with Plasticity that I began to recognize that my mom was a big influence on my career path. In an era with few female entrepreneurs, my mom was a Nurse Practitioner with a thriving practice. Then she went on to build a small business from her basement while working part-time in the ICU. And soon she was growing her business and committing to it full-time. I think I’ve taken that spirit of optimism, intrinsic motivation and belief in myself – that my mom quietly exuded. What I love most about my mom is that although she grew up with very little, in a tiny fishing village in Northern Ontario, she was extremely grateful for everything she earned.
11) Hermione Way
Title: Founder @ WayMedia
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Story: My mum got me an Apple 2 in the 1980’s.
12) Leah Cevoli
Title: Producer, Director, Actress, Host
Location: LA & Philadelphia
Story: My mom was just 19 years old when I was born. She infused me with her energy, her courage and her sense of adventure. She encouraged me to pursue my passions and supported (just about) anything I was interested in. Although she had to drop out of school in the 9th grade, she always encouraged me and my siblings to embrace math, science and education in general. She also loved helping us with our homework, and could easily be coerced into *assisting* us with school projects and reports. Mom supported all of my geeky interests, and made sure I had whatever gadget I was interested in… from that classic Owl Calculator, to the right tools for Trigonometry, to the latest Walkman, cordless phone and home stereo.
How did your mom inspire you? How different would your career be if you received the same advice?
This post is dedicated to my mom. She encouraged me, supported me and I owe everything I am to her.