Women Who Reign: Ariela Safira

Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.” — Anne Lamott
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Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I was raised in New Jersey (and get far too many Jersey jokes as a result of it) and came out to California for university 3–4 years ago. I study math, computer science, art and design at Stanford. I took a year off from school last year, so I’m now a junior watching many of my friends graduate. Fun fact — I’m terrified of birds!

What # would define your life journey?
Hm, I’m not sure how hashtag-worthy this is, but I’ve always been very intentional. I should always have a conscious reason for doing anything I take part in.

Favorite website / app:
If I’m going to be honest, my favorite sites are flight-deal websites — embarrassingly, I check them daily.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
I think my dad has played a great role in inspiring me holistically, both consciously and subconsciously. He’s eternally happy, stoked to be alive, and is often talking about his love for breathing, water, and cucumbers. He’s provided a great reminder to do what makes me happy and to follow whatever it is I’m most excited about. I’m really thankful that I have him.

Challenge you’ve faced in tech and how you overcame it:
I experienced a lot of sexism at a recent internship. Prior to that internship, I felt passionately about and promoted diversity in tech, but I somehow thought I wasn’t “personally impacted” by tech’s poor demographics myself, as if I was so accustomed to being a female-minority by now that I didn’t notice (very silly of me). That being said, during that internship, I certainly felt the discomfort of being in a male-dominated workplace that didn’t see value in promoting minority groups in tech. I had an awesome mentor while there who consistently encouraged me to speak up to HR and to not continue working there (or any place that respected women so poorly) beyond the summer — she has since left, as well. My friends were also very supportive, and I gained the confidence to reach out to HR months after the summer ended after a professor at Stanford gave a great talk during class about why the tech industry’s demographics should change and why speaking up is so helpful.

Challenge you’ve faced at school and how you overcame it:
I’ve been financially independent since 18, which has often meant working 40–50 hours per week while being a full-time student. I’ve overcome it by pushing through and having great friends to support me — have I mentioned my friends? I have the greatest friends.

Ideal Job:
Generally, I’ll be a very happy person as long as I can work within the intersection of computer science, design, and social change.

(And if I could do that while backpacking or while moving from cool city to cool city yearly, I’d be a very, very happy person.)

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Hm. I don’t think women have to become CEOs or Software Engineers to ‘show who’s boss’ or reign our lives. The best knowledge I could provide is the cliche statement to do what makes us happy. We have all the time in the world to work a safe job, secure a stable salary, or to live amidst familiarity- today seems like a good day to do what we can’t do in 30 years.