On March 23rd Farmingdale State College held its first-ever Celebration of Women in Computing and Engineering Technology event. The event was headlined by Dr. Barbara Chrisite and Cristina Dolan and moderated by Dr. Jill O’ Sullivan who is the Chair of the Computer Systems Department at FSC. Dr. Christie, the Dean of the School of Engineering Technology has done research that has helped underrepresented groups like women find success in male-dominated fields, such as computing, engineering, and technology. 

Cristina Dolan also uses her experiences and journey to fuel her efforts in helping guide the next generation. She shared her experiences with the attendees. Dolan was a co-founder of OneMain.com and helped it grow into the tenth-largest internet service provider (ISP) in the world. She has also worked in the advancement of technologies such as blockchain, AI Cyber, and fintech. In addition, worked at various major companies such as ABC and Disney. 

Dr. Christie talked about how at her time at a prestigious college in New York, she had a teacher that would ridicule and belittle her in front of the class. The professor would often say that she is wasting her time here and that this field is not meant for her. This would not throw Dr. Christie off her path to success but instead only motivated her to continue pursuing this career path. She pressed onwards in her field of study and through her knowledge and skills she has become a trailblazer for women in the field of computer engineering and technology. Due to women like her, the amount of women in the field of clinical engineering has grown to over 50% over the years and is still growing higher.

She credits having a strong amount of grit and determination for her success and also believes that overcoming adversity is important for anyone looking for success. Dr. Christie cannot overstate how much importance women bring to the workforce and they should never be discouraged to pursue their dreams in any field. Dr. Christie wants to be able to help the women of Farmingdale College accomplish their dreams like how she was able to and to rid the stereotypes and discrimination she has faced along her path to success. Cristina Dolan has done tremendous work in paving the way for the future success of women in the computer engineering and technology field. She dealt with issues similar to Dr. Christie’s with pursuing a career in a male-dominated field. 

She felt that her ability to be an efficient problem solver was a huge key to her being successful in any endeavor she took on. Dolan hosted a TED Talk which stressed the importance of being a good problem solver. She lives by her motto of “If you can solve a problem for a company you have a job, if you can solve a problem for customers you have a business.” With the amount of success Dolan has had in her career, she felt like she needed to give back to the women in her field and give them a platform to succeed. She held a competition titled “Dream it, Code it, Win it” which was a computer science education competition and was able to have over 50% female participants. These kinds of opportunities were not easily available to her when navigating her way through her field and she felt she needed to be the change she desired. 

Due to her experience in the workforce, Dolan feels that women are better problem solvers than men and they provide fresh new perspectives. As some career advice, she offered to everyone is that becoming an effective problem solver will take you farther than you can imagine as well as being a self-learner. She emphasizes that becoming a self-learner is vital because of how quickly the world around us changes and that the skill to adapt to any environment will help with future success. Both of these extraordinary women have done tremendous things for the advancement of women in this field. 

The event also featured a female Alumni Panel who discussed their stories of being in a field that was male-dominated. Madlyn Paredes, Lauren Liegmann, Daniela Alvarez, Sindhu Padaga, and Kristie Grebe all shared similar experiences of being a woman in their respective fields and how it was seen as uncommon. They all were surprised by the lack of female students who were in their classes but they did not feel intimidated by it. They felt that they were treated the same as their male counterparts and were given every opportunity to succeed during their academic career. Even when these former students were applying to jobs they talked about how they felt that they were interviewed properly and really had the chance to let their skills and education shine through. 

During the question and answer portion of the event, the female students were asked about their role models and if having more male teachers had a negative impact on their education at Farmingdale. Sindhu Padaga said that all of her teachers in her field had a positive influence and wanted her to succeed and stated that “They wanted me to be successful beyond the classroom and in the work field.” Dr. Mary Villani, who is an associate professor in the Computer Systems department added to those comments by stating “A role model can be a male or a female, it does not matter the gender but how they inspire or influence you makes a good role model.” 

These are the kinds of success stories that are meant to inspire women all to pursue their dreams no matter how difficult it may seem. All of the women who spoke at the event have done tremendous things in the future advancement of women in the workforce and will continue to light the path for those who come after them.