It’s not easy being the only woman in the room, but in technology, it’s something you have to get used to. According to the US Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, only 24 percent of women work in tech — and it’s unlikely to get better in the near future. The National Center for Women and Information Technology predicts that by 2026, even fewer women will study computer science than today. The latest statistics from the Center show only 18 percent of computer science graduates are women. More women are needed in technology because we bring a unique perspective and experience to product development. As traditional as it may seem, women lead the household and buy groceries for the family. We account for nearly two-thirds of all grocery shoppers, according to The Time Use Institute. Our time in this role helps us brings new knowledge and a new perspective to technology and products that we use everyday.
A Mother’s Perspective in Tech
My advice to women is be proactive when looking for opportunities to help move the organization forward and grow. When you observe opportunities to contribute to the greater good of the people you serve and the organization, take it. I read an article a while back that reported how the average woman speaks about 20,000 words a day, while for men the average is a mere 7,000. That’s fewer than half the number of words. Generally speaking, this commonly gets attributed to women being more evocative in their communication style. We have different priorities, as well as different processing and behavior patterns. For example, a couple of key differences I have noticed during my time in a typically male-dominated workplace/team are as follows:
Why Women in Technology Makes Sense
- When working with female colleagues and counterparts, our conversations and rhetoric for working through a given process will tend to build off various discussion points. By contrast, when in similar situations in a male-dominated workspace, the focus tends to be more heavily skewed on statistics.
- Furthermore, I have a sense that women tend to be more open to offering help. We see this as a sign of care for the individual and the success of the broader task. Meanwhile, I’ve known a number of male colleagues who have struggled to ask for help as they have (incorrectly, in my opinion) believed such a request to indicate an inability to achieve.
- Generally speaking, I think that women tend to be more detail oriented, while men are more goal oriented.
I try to keep all this in mind on a daily basis…although, of course, on some days I do better than others. Most importantly, in my opinion: find a champion, male or female, who is willing to help you break through any glass ceiling. The right leaders advocating for you can help you be successful even in a difficult situation.
Women in Technology — My Own Experience
I’m using my experience as a mother to develop a mobile app that will revolutionize the way all consumers shop for their groceries. It’s a Personalized Wellness engine that I’ve been working on with an intense focus for the past 18 months. We are aiming to make it available to ScriptSave WellRx members (at no cost) in stages over the course of this year. The average grocery store might carry in the region of 50,000 items, making it difficult for consumers to know which products are healthier. We’re not talking about the obvious things here, like fresh fruit and veg — most people have a handle on those. However, when it comes to the thousands of packaged goods (generally scattered all over the center section of the store), often times it can be far too overwhelming for people to find the right and best products based on their health. For those consumers with health conditions like diabetes or heart disease, compiling the ‘right’ grocery list can make a huge difference to quality of life. However, knowing where to start or figuring it out in a hurry can be a huge barrier.
Mother of Invention — Literally!
Our technology will provide personalized grocery guidance based on a person’s health. It’s like having a nutritionist with you every time you go to the grocery store. As with most mobile apps and tech platforms, the build-process for Personalized Wellness will be iterative. I’ve got our development team at ScriptSave focused on our first step at the moment — something we’re calling (at least for now), “My Healthy Foods.” We anticipate pushing this feature live in late June or early July, setting in place the first piece of the much bigger puzzle. We operate in the healthcare space (specifically, retail pharmacy and prescription medications) and, as such, the focus for “My Healthy Foods” is more than just pushing out healthy eating tips. It starts by identifying the individual’s health condition or disease state, and then helps align grocery purchases with those conditions and/or dietary preferences. Members who opt in and create a user profile will receive grocery guidance based on the preferences they select, including a “General Health & Wellbeing” preference for members who are simply looking to shop more healthily. Moreover, where available, ScriptSave’s Personalized Wellness plug-in can deliver savings information and coupons for healthy retail grocery purchases — all at no cost.
How it works -
For example, if your child is pre-diabetic and you’re buying high sugar, low nutrition cereals (the kind that most kids love, but which may not be best suited to their condition), our personalized wellness engine might steer you towards an alternative cereal that’s better suited. If there are coupons available, the app will make them available for clipping so you can save and shop the healthier choice at the same time. While there are many apps designed to help steer people towards more general eating habits, the Personalized Wellness functionality that we’re releasing to ScriptSave WellRx users will be somewhat of a first — providing feedback that is personalized based on specific health concerns. As a patient visiting a doctor, we get prescribed specific medications that relate to the health condition in question. Now, with ScriptSave WellRx, the same patient is able to match their food selections to their health condition as well. It’s a concept that has been attracting a lot of favorable attention from grocers and pharmacists alike. Needless to say, I’m proud to be leading the charge on this initiative, bringing female perspectives and real experiences into the technology and health realms.
This guest post was authored by Jane Schmitt
Jane is a technical product manager at ScriptSave WellRX, collaborating with cross-functional project teams to address issues and create logical and innovative solutions. She has previously worked as a project coordinator at Anchor Wave Internet Solutions and Easter Seals Blake Foundation.