App Designer Chelsea Wrobel On A Mission To Inspire More Girls To Consider Careers In IT

There is a huge push to get more girls involved in STEM subjects from an early point in their education. With statistics showing a significant drop-off for girls at a certain age, we are seeing a number of well-known brands and organizations, such as Microsoft, Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code, working to fill the gender gap as well as the pipeline for science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers that are growing at a faster rate than can be filled. There is also a concerted effort to engage low-income and minority girls who are significantly underrepresented in STEM communities.

Along with the identification of the problem comes the need for mentors and role models for girls to look up to. As the saying goes, if she can see it, she can be it. When most young girls and boys hear names like “Gates”, “Jobs”, and “Zuckerberg” who are considered the the technology greats, it is easy to see why girls get the impression this industry is not for them.

But thankfully there are more and more women in particularly the technology world making themselves heard and working to change cultural perceptions of the industry. It’s not just learning the “big” names, it’s about seeing everyday role models who work in technology that can have the biggest impact on a girl’s future choices.

Meet Chelsea Wrobel. She just turned 30. Although she studied Fine Arts in college, today she designs apps for a living at DMI, a global digital transformation company working with businesses as well as individuals. The company started in founder Sunny Bajaj’s basement in 2002 (a familiar tale of many a technology company) and today has locations across the US as well as Spain, India, Cambodia, Canada and the UK.

Chelsea is an example of the potential opportunities available when there is investment into the STEM track. She never thought she would have a job in technology, but today she is on a mission is to inspire more girls to consider careers in IT when they grow up. Read more about her job and her story below.

As a Senior UI UX Designer at DMI, what does your job entail?
My job consists of designing the overall look, feel and functionality of apps and websites. Currently I am partnering with a team at a large automotive company and helping them enhance their user interfaces. Even though I work in the technology sector, my role is highly-creative which I appreciate.

Since you majored in Fine Arts in college, how did you break into IT?
My degree from Western Michigan University was in Fine Art with an emphasis in photography and intermedia and a minor in creative writing. I landed my first IT job in a slightly unorthodox fashion about a year after graduation. I was getting my hair cut and relating my search for a design job to my stylist. A woman from Compuware overheard me and gave me her card. The rest is history!

Most workers in the IT field are men. Is that your experience and what’s your approach?
Though men still outnumber women in IT, DMI employs more women than I have ever worked with before in such fields as analysts, project managers, testers and in management. My approach is simple. I treat my colleagues, regardless of gender or background, as professionals. I have respect for anyone who is good at their job, works hard and performs as a team player. It’s best to see people as people. Most folks return the favor.

Since the IT field is booming, why is it hard for companies to fill open positions?
In the past, this industry considered the design aspect of IT to be superficial and just pretty pictures. But it’s not enough anymore for technology to simply be functional. This has resulted in a huge demand for designers that didn’t exist until recently. At DMI, we are proud that we deliver “human-centric” solutions that users are drawn to interact with.

It is also critical for companies to properly screen job candidates. At DMI, our apps have won many awards because we do exceptional work for our clients. It takes time for recruiters to ensure the candidates they are interviewing for open positions have the right credentials and skills.

What advice can you offer girls about getting into IT?
You CAN do it! Being a great app designer or developer isn’t gender-specific. In fact, from a design perspective, women may even have a slight edge because they are less likely to be color blind! What’s more, the only known tetrachromat to date (someone who can see wavelengths beyond typical human eyesight) is female. I wonder how many innovations have gone undeveloped because of limits placed on females in the past.

Girls need to be equally encouraged to pursue STEM careers. What’s more, this is a great career if you want a family. DMI offers flexible schedules and work from home opportunities. Finally, if and when you are underestimated because you are female, use it to your advantage.

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