By Dinah Davis
I had an early love of math that grew into a mathematics degree, a masters in cryptography, a career in security, and lead me to become a technical leader. I helped keep customer’s data secure as a developer at Blackberry, built SIEM technology at Trustwave, worked to transform the way the world learns at D2L, and today lead the R&D team at Arctic Wolf Networks, where we provide an affordable Managed Detection and Response service for our clients.
The journey was anything but smooth. In high school, I was told to be a math teacher: that’s what girls who are good at math do. In university, my male professors questioned my ability to go to grad school even though I had a near perfect GPA. In my professional life, I have been bullied, passed over for promotion, told to “not worry my pretty little head about it”, and had peers describe me as “too assertive” in meetings all because I am a woman.
For many years I was afraid to speak up about these issues. I thought speaking up would negatively impact my career. However, after being bullied by a boss for almost a year, I realized I had to do something. If the company was not going to listen, I didn’t want to work there anymore. Furthermore, I didn’t want other women to have to work in those environments either.
I slowly started writing blog posts about my experiences and the positive experiences I was trying to create for my daughter. I began attending a Women in Tech peer group and became one of the group’s leaders. I started running workshops to teach girls to code and speaking at Women in Tech events. Finally, in December 2015, I pulled all of that advocacy work under the umbrella of Code Like A Girl. Since then it has become an online platform that includes a blog, website, Facebook page, and Twitter profile.
The goal of Code Like a Girl is to challenge society’s perceptions of how women are viewed in technology. We do that by amplifying the voices of Women In Tech and the feminist men that support them on our blog. In just over 6 months we have published over 100 stories, have over 3600 followers, and over the last month we have averaged over 650 visitors a day.
While difficult at times, none of my bad experiences have stopped me from pursuing a career in technology. The most important lesson I have learned is to speak up and share what you have been through, to spare others from the same experience. Doing this matters!
My love for cryptography opened my eyes to the world of information security. I loved how challenging, innovative, and fast-moving that world was; but after 12 years I decided to try something new. While I enjoyed the three years I spent working in education, the problems we were solving were very different from those that I solved in security, and I found I missed it. That is why, just over a year ago, I was excited to find a new home at Arctic Wolf Networks. Our mission is to deliver white-gloved network security services to small and medium sized business. For me, Arctic Wolf combines all the things that matter to me: security, advocacy, and building products that make a difference.
Dinah Davis is the Director of R&D at Arctic Wolf Networks and the founder of Code Like a Girl, a space that celebrates changing society's perceptions of how women are viewed in technology.