Voices from WIThin

Stanford WIT community members

Step into the Mackenzie room during a monthly Stanford Women in Technology (WIT) meeting, and you’ll feel the enthusiastic energy of the packed room, see faces from all corners of the university, Stanford Medicine, and SLAC, and experience inspiring speakers and programming.

Outside of the monthly meetings, community members engage in lively discussion on Slack — sharing advice, resources, and support for each other. And, newly-established WIT sub-committees are in full swing.

Just four months since its inception, the Stanford WIT community is a vibrant and engaged community of people who are fiercely passionate about the WIT mission to advance gender representation, engagement, and support for Stanford women and allies in technology.

To celebrate the success of WIT so far, we invited members of the community to share their stories and reflect on why WIT is important to them.

Voices from the WIT community

Jackie Ajoux, Technical Program Manager, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning

Jackie AjouxI am the daughter of an Argentinian immigrant mother who always believed that the harder you worked, the luckier you got, and to never take ‘no’ for an answer. My dad, a laid-back midwestern Iowan, taught me to lead with integrity, have grit when faced with tribulation, and enjoy the humor in life.

These values were a common theme that enveloped the spirit of my household, and ultimately shaped the way that I now carry myself as a woman in the workplace. I am a technical program manager — my mom has no idea what this means, but is very proud regardless. I’ve had the honor of serving Stanford University for over four years. I have enjoyed my time working at Stanford, and can confidently attest to the collegiality, and support of the Stanford network of IT women.

As a woman, I was actually quite naive to the issues that women encounter in the workplace. I handled my profession for what it was — my profession. I never took “no” as an answer, and I worked as hard as I could, just as my parents had taught me. In many respects, I didn’t even think to question if I was treated a different way on the basis of my gender. By educating myself, and upon further self-reflection, I can unfortunately empathize and share in the negative experiences that many women face in their professional work environments.

This is why the WIT program is so important. It helps us to acknowledge the current state of what professional women presently face and to positively bring together a community of like-minded people who are devoted to improving the workplace and moving the metaphorical needle toward gender equality.

I am enthusiastic about WIT because it advances gender representation and sparks communication that improves our already vibrant community. In my own experience, WIT has inspired me — by listening to the accomplished keynote speakers and the lessons they taught — to stay connected to my value and purpose, and to own my ambition.

WIT offers a rich platform for women to continue in their pursuits and to know that they are not alone on their professional journey. WIT has already made an indelible impression on me that will reverberate throughout the rest of my career and life.

Anabel (Bel) Velasquez, Computing Information Systems Analyst, Office of Research Administration

Anabel (Bel) VelasquezMy name is Anabel, aka Bel, Velasquez and I’ve been with the Office of Research Administration since 2011. I am a computing information systems analyst, and I support the Stanford Electronic Research Administration system (SeRA).

I am so excited to be part of the WIT program because I am a big proponent of mentorships. As a national spokesperson and mentor for another higher learning institution, I believe that I should also find ways to get mentoring myself. As long as I’m able, my goal is to garner as much advice as I can and glean from successful women.

I find that the knowledge gained in WIT meetings bleeds over into my personal life too. As a single working mother, I don't necessarily have a support system of this caliber and as I leave these meetings feeling empowered in my career, I also have tips to conquer single motherhood as well.

The very first WIT meeting held in September was the most memorable for me. That’s when it hit me that I wasn’t alone in wanting to be encouraged as a woman in the technology industry and to learn from those that have “been there.”

Hearing the speakers, such as Laura Patterson, helped me realize that my fears of being a minority is okay and can actually be a gift. We should embrace our uniqueness and know that we have one another to coach us through the hard moments in our careers. The best message I keep hearing is that we are not alone in our journeys!

I really feel like WIT melds our Stanford community together. And through this program, we can ripple out to other parts of our communities and the world — like a pebble in the water — to create positive momentum for women all over.

Learn more and get involved

If you would like to learn more about Stanford WIT and get involved, visit the Stanford WIT website.

DISCLAIMER: IT Community News is accurate on the publication date. We do not update information in past news items. We do make every effort to keep our webpages up-to-date.