Name: Daisy Gallardo
Role: Data Mining Lead
Seniority at ADDEV: 6 years
What studies have you done and why?
After my first two years at Santa Clara University (SCU) as an undeclared major, I decided to pursue a degree in Mathematics – Computer Science. I liked working with numbers and the thought of being able to write programs that control hardware behavior in vastly different businesses and industries was an intriguing challenge.
The defense sector and it jobs are rather considered as a masculine universe. In this context, how did your integration go?
Getting into the defense sector was actually a stroke of luck. In my last year of college, I had a roommate who was pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering. She had a part time job that she could no longer keep with a defense contractor called Singer-Link and she recommended me as her replacement to her boss. I was hired to provide support for the Hardware Engineering group by entering their designs into a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) System and digitizing their hardware test segments.
Once I graduated from SCU, Singer-Link hired me full time as a Software Engineer and I worked on the visual database for the military helicopters flight simulator. I moved on to a company in San Diego called General Dynamics and worked on the Tomahawk missile guidance system. With the vast number of opportunities in Silicon Valley for the Engineering profession, I moved back to the Bay Area and worked for various companies whose businesses included automated newsroom systems, parental control software, enabling internet browsing on gaming platforms, embedded user interface systems, and font technology.
What assets and difficulties did you encounter in your career?
I have had the good fortune of not encountering many obstacles with advancing in my career. Although the software groups I worked with were predominantly men, they were all knowledgeable, hard-working, supportive, and willing to share and collaborate on the various projects I was involved with. When I was hired full-time at Singer-Link, my first supervisor and department manager were both strong, determined, confident women. I admired their work ethic and accomplishments and aspired to be like them.
In your opinion, in 30 years in the tech industry, have things changed for women and what are the remaining obstacles (studies and companies)?
30 years… has it been that long? I would say yes, things have come a long way for women since I started my professional career. There are more opportunities in a wider range of fields, women are treated more like peers instead of subordinates, and women are more respected and recognized for their knowledge and their talent. There are more women CEO’s and Board members today within the tech industry, and more women in the industry in general. However, there are still challenges, some of them the same as when I first started working. For example, disparity in pay; women may perform just as well or better than their male counterparts in the exact same job yet get paid less. Some women still struggle with the decision to pursue their career, or put it on hold or give it up, in order to have a family because companies do not provide the benefits or flexibility to have both. I took a 6-year break myself to focus on my children once they started elementary school. There is also still the stigma that when a final decision must be made regarding who stays home with the children, the men are considered the moneymakers and the women the homemakers.
What advice would you give to women who want to go into these professions but also to industrial employers who are looking for it profiles?
To the women: You are just as intelligent as the person next to you. Don’t let anyone hold you back or push you down when it comes to your career. Take the opportunities presented to you but also strive to be more than what you are today. Advocate for yourself and let your voice be heard. Learn from the people that surround you, always give 110%, and take pride in what you do.
To the employers: If you were to give a blind interview, where you don’t see the applicant or only hear a disguised voice, and decide to hire this person who turns out to be a woman, would you be taken by surprise? If the answer is yes, then you and your company need to take a step back and re-evaluate how you can change your mindset. Even though you may indeed hire this woman, the mentality that she is different or that she could be capable of qualifying for a job that you expected a man to be hired for will always linger. And that will affect all aspects of her job, including her advancement within your company.