Is a web application developer at Rabid Technologies Limited.
What do you do on an average work day?
I write software in a programming language called Ruby that runs behind the scenes of some of New Zealand's most well known websites. I also spend a lot of time communicating and consulting with clients to establish their technical needs in projects that my company does for them.
What did you study at school? And after high school?
I mainly studied maths and chemistry at school, with a healthy bit of music on the side. There unfortunately weren't any opportunities to study computer programming at my small rural high school so I started doing a chemistry degree at Victoria University before switching to computer science.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
Yes and no. Not that much of computer science is applicable to day to day application development, it's akin to physics as compared to bridge engineering. You're mostly thinking about high level construction, rather than the finer details of the physical laws which cover what you're building. Computer science was still valuable to study, but I had to do additional learning to put it all into practice.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Do not be afraid to grab every opportunity that comes your way. The unfortunate truth is that men get more opportunities anyway in tech so take what you can get. Support your fellow women and other marginalized people in the industry. Often, they'll be the only people who know what you're dealing with.
If you hear about a cool conference that you'd like to check out, keep an eye out for student tickets. They're the best place to meet like minded people and you will learn lots.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
In 2015 I spoke at not one but two big conferences: WDCNZ and Kiwicon, here in Wellington. I got to meet some amazing women in the software industry from all over the world as a result.
I also find that finishing a product that makes its users happy is a real highlight as well. Thousands of Kiwis and people around the globe are using code that I wrote to crowdfund their dreams, pump their petrol, and order circuit boards to build their high tech ideas, as just a few examples.
Why do you believe engaging in STEM - whether it's working in the field, studying it or just educating one's self around the issues - is important to New Zealand?
We have a strong culture around innovation in New Zealand, that famous No.8 wire attitude, and we can really best apply it in STEM areas. We're a very small country but that doesn't have to be a disadvantage. We're perfectly positioned to adapt quickly to new technologies and be real world leaders on things we're passionate about as a society: our climate and our sense of equality for everyone.
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
When you have a homogenous background, you get homogenous ideas and people overlooking consequences outside of their experience. If we increase diversity, we'll not only have better ideas and broader perspectives but we'll also reduce the harm that technology could potentially do if some of the ramifications are overlooked.
Megan Bowra-Dean is a web application developer at Rabid Technologies Limited
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.
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