This girl loved math. But then, she was offered different options than the boys who loved math in her class.
Meet Dinah Davis, who decided to challenge all existing perceptions about women and technology and rose to the top in a field that she loved. Technology.
But it didn’t happen naturally. She stumbled. She went off the path. She came back on. And then she nailed it.
In a quest to help other women who shouldn’t wander off into other trails, despite their love for technology- Dinah founded ‘Code Like A Girl’ – a platform dedicated to putting the best resources together to help women in STEM.
She is your typical millennial mom, juggling it all and beautifully.
Dinah is our Momspiration of the month. Read on to know her story and what keeps her going everyday.
Welcome to Kidskintha, Dinah. Thank you for being here. You currently hold the position of Director of Research and Development at Arctic Wolf Networks. You have also held highly competitive positions at various stages of your life. How would you sum up your experience of being in a technology field so far?
When I was young, I loved math and was quite good at it. In High School, a school counselor convinced me that I should be a math teacher while the boys who were good at math were encouraged to become engineers. I would love to say that I ignored what he said and went to school to become an engineer, but I didn’t. I listened to him and went to school to be a math teacher. I soon discovered that my true love lay with mathematics and not teaching. That decision led me to later find computer science and cryptography, which expanded into a career in Technology.
You currently run a platform called “Code like a Girl” whose mission is to support women in STEM. What drove you to get this started?
I am very glad that Technology and Computer Science found me. I would love to help it find other smart young women before they go to university so they can be part of it too. This is why I started Code Like A Girl.
Please tell us how “Code Like A Girl” works. What is your vision for the platform?
Code like a girl is an online platform that includes a Medium publication, website, Facebook page, and Twitter profile. I started this platform to advocate for and interact with Women In STEM and get young girls interested in considering a career in STEM. This project is something I care about and spend my time on because it the best way I have to amplify the voices of Women in STEM and the feminist men that support us.
My short term focus is to continue to grow the Medium Publication so we can amplify our writer’s voices as much as possible. My long-term vision is to build out the website so I can include more resources to support women and girls in STEM.
What common challenges women do you think women face at work, apart from increased domestic workload? What are the most common insights you have gathered from a broad group of women on the platform?
I think unconscious bias is the biggest challenge women face in the workforce. We have worked really hard over the last 50 years to reduce overt sexism, and I believe we have made a lot of progress. I believe the only way we are going to change unconscious bias is by talking about it and raising awareness of the issues that still exist.
You are the Director or Research and Development of a Technology company; you run a very powerful platform supporting women, and you are also a parent! How do you do it all?
I don’t. My first responsibility is my family, second to work, and third to Code Like A Girl. Because of this I pick and choose the things I do for Code Like A Girl that I think will make the greatest impact. This is why I put so much effort into the Medium publication. I can reach thousands and thousands of people with the voices in my publication and do it from my couch after my daughter is in bed.
Did you face any personal challenges while setting this up?
I think time is the biggest issue. Code Like A Girl is my passion project, so it would be easy to sync a lot of my time into it. I don’t have endless amounts of time to devote to it, so it becomes a problem of prioritization. I have put a priority on growing the online presence and as oppose to a physical presence. I carefully pick and choose the events, conferences, talks, and workshops that I do because they take up a lot of time and have a limited reach. This is hard because I want to do everything I can for our community, but at the same time, I hope to make a global impact through my online presence.
What are your best time – saving /productivity hacks? What apps do you use to organize your day?
Buffer is both the app and my biggest productivity hack. I use it to help keep my social media presence authentic, but also manageable. I love that I am the one curating the content, but it manages to schedule when it goes out for me.
What does your typical workday look like? How do you split your time between work, family and your passion?
I get up at 6 am and workout with my husband in our garage turned CrossFit gym. My 7-year-old daughter sometimes joins us if she is awake and interested. After that I am off to work by 8:30 am. I check in with social media a few times a day and head home to pick my daughter up from after-school care. We work really hard to make the hours between 5 and 8 PM family time. After my daughter is in bed I usually spend time reading Medium looking for awesome articles to publish in medium, write my own posts, or edit posts from our authors before we publish them. Then I am off to bed between 9:30 and 11 PM.
What are your favorite writing/coding/tech apps? How do you approach a new idea/article?
Medium is my platform of choice for writing. I love how easy it is to create content that looks fantastic.
More often than not, an idea hits me that I MUST write. It feels like it is something that just needs to come out of me. If I can find the time to sit down and write it when I feel like that I can have a blog post burst out of me and onto the page in a few short hours. I don’t worry about formatting or pictures. I just get it out. Then I spend a few days editing and cleaning it up before I post it.
Sometimes it isn’t that easy. Sometimes I have an idea for a post, but it just doesn’t want to come out. In those cases, I try to set aside an hour at a time and just focus on getting something on the page. Those are the times I call my friends and ask for their feedback.
My co-editor Sean Yo is fantastic at this. Usually, the two of us together can write some pretty awesome posts.
What is the one thing you will never miss in your day?
Connecting with my family and close friends. I am very connected with my husband, daughter, sister, mother, and best friend. They are my support system. Without them, my life doesn’t work.
What’s the best advice you have received?
The best advice I ever was learned from every member of my family. It is to be Fearless in life. Not reckless but Fearless. To go and get the life you want and to stand up for those that need your help. My Oma and Opa taught it to me with stories of how they survived World War II and made a new life in Canada. My father taught me by fighting for those with less in his work as a civil servant overseeing welfare housing for the poor of Manitoba. My mother taught it to me by going back to work in a new career after spending 13 years raising my sister, and I. My Sister exemplified it this year when she helped lead an effort to bring a Syrian family into our community. She is currently helping them learn how to thrive. I strongly feel that to do amazing things in life; you need to do the stuff that makes you scared and uncomfortable. To do that you must be Fearless!
As somebody who has walked the path, what’s your advice to other writers about getting something started?
Just do it. It really is that simple. The more you write, the better you get at it. My worst subject in school was English. I am a terrible speller and am even worse at grammar. So I ALWAYS have someone edit my stories before I post them.
I would also recommend reading a lot of blog posts, especially ones that get a high number of recommends on Medium. You can learn a lot from what others write.
Finally, be authentic. My best posts had come when I allowed my true voice to show through my writing. Readers can feel when you are authentic, and it resonates with them.
A few words on what you like about Kidskintha the most.
I think it is a fantastic resource for parents to come to get a positive perspective on parenting. It discusses difficult topics and gives parents advice on how to navigate hard situations.
Thank you, Dinah!
About the author:
Devishobha Chandramouli is the founder of Kidskintha- a site dedicated to helping millennial parents raise happy kids. She believes that growing up well and happy is a function of growing up with well-informed adults. This site aims to deliver research-grounded and bite-sized pieces of information on two important facets of a child’s life- parenting and education. You can find her voice on the Huffington Post, Addicted2Success, TinyBuddha, Citizen Matters , Nectar and Lies About Parenting.