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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Women Talk Taking Over Tech

By Sophie Miller

Daydreamers, tinkerers, inventors and creators unite.

The tech industry is booming and half the population isn’t getting in the game. In 2014, women held about 26 percent of information technology jobs, a drop from 36 percent in 1991, according to a study by the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Women have been increasing their roles in many sectors of the economy over the last few decades, but tech seems to still lag behind the rest. Filmmakers Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed hope to break this trend with their new film “She Started It.”

The film, screened Monday, Feb. 13 at the Pickford Film Center, tells the stories of five women striving for success in the tech industry. The showing was followed by a Q&A with Poggi.

“When I’m working on an idea, it’s like I have this fire inside me. This burning thing that needs to be a reality. It needs to get out there.”

Stacey Ferreira

The two main subjects, Thuy Truong and Stacey Ferreira, face numerous hardships in the industry because of their age and gender. With English as her second language, Truong struggles communicating her ideas and plans into pitches for investors.

What sets the women apart is their drive to succeed despite family expectations,
countless setbacks and having few
female role models.

Truong attributes most of her success to her stubbornness. Before she came to Silicon Valley, she was a businesswoman. At 23, Truong opened a frozen yogurt shop in
Vietnam.

“There are very few female entrepreneurs and female investors in the technology industry,” Truong said in the film. “It’s quite scary.” 

Ferreira faced judgement from her family when she wanted to pu

Nora Poggi and event coordinators hold the unofficial Bellingham flag after a Pickford Film screening of “She Started It” Monday, Feb. 13. // Photo by Sophie Miller

rsue her dream of being an entrepreneur instead of going to college.

“When I’m working on an idea, it’s like I have this fire inside me. This burning thing that needs to be a reality. It needs to get out there,” Ferreira said in the film.

This drive and enthusiasm for her work is what kept Ferreira motivated when fundraising didn’t go as she expected or when her business partner backed out.

During the Q&A, Poggi noted that although things are changing, the numbers have not shifted much.

“A lot of stuff that’s happening around this topic especially in Silicon Valley is PR,” Poggi said.

Poggi has been reporting on the tech industry from San Francisco for the last few years. She thinks the cycle will change only if more women become founders and investors. Without this shift it will be difficult to reverse the male dominated environment of the Silicon
Valley and the industry in general, Poggi said.

The film screening event drew a large crowd of students and community members.

Freshman Ryan Ellingwood is a Fairhaven College student and a member of the IDEA Institute in the entrepreneurship minor. The institute aims to engage students within their community. Ellingwood said the title of the film is intriguing because the phrase “she started it” sounds negative, but in this case has a positive connotation.

Many audience members voiced the need for more events like this in the future with opportunities to share ideas and brainstorming space. Some people expressed their concern about lack of mentorship in the entrepreneurial field.

Poggi’s advice was to reach out and talk to people who have experience in the entrepreneurial sphere. Networking and asking people questions can lead to finding an invaluable mentor.

“She Started It” is being shown across the country. 

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