My Ruby Sabbatical: Empowering Women in Technology

Ruby Receptionists: Women in TechnologyIt’s difficult to express the rush of emotions you feel when your awesome job gets epically more awesome. When our CEO Jill Nelson announced the Ruby “Five at Five” sabbatical program, I had just started my sixth year with the company. Five weeks of paid time off, a $1,000 grant, and coaching with Positive Acorn were just waiting for me to decide what I wanted my sabbatical to look like! And that was the hardest part. I am a woman of many, many projects, so I would have been lost if it weren’t for the Ruby Core Values.

Create Community is a strength that I didn’t know I had until I started working here. Whether it’s making soup for the whole staff on a cold winter day, or teaching people how to reuse scrap paper to make notepads — I love bringing people together. My heart belongs to making the world a better place through growing knowledge, group cooperation and communication.

My sabbatical project is a glorious aggregation of what I’m passionate about: I wanted to work on a film project. I wanted to use all of my artistic skills. I wanted to ignite curiosity and growth in the next generation.

Then, I discovered FIRST Robotics. Our communications platform vendor, Interactive Intelligence, works with this organization, and I was instantly enamored with it. Kids making robots? This is perfect! But it wasn’t complete. It needed something more.

After starting as a virtual receptionist and working for many years in the Client Services Department, I feel lucky to be a Systems Analyst in Ruby’s IT Department. I specialize in telephony; I’m a nerd who gets to work on fun technology in the happiest company on earth (OK, we haven’t gotten that title yet, but it can’t be far off). Working in a predominantly female company, it always stood out to me when I worked with our vendors and partners…there are so few women in technology. While the men I work with are fantastically talented and I adore them, it’s sometimes a stark contrast to working with the dozens of women at Ruby. It was this piece that was waiting to sink in. What I wanted to do was open IT’s arms to the next generation of women in technology. Bring the Ruby Love Fest™ to the girl nerds out there. Finally, with Jessica Austin from Positive Acorn’s guidance, I had my idea!

Ruby Sabbatical Program

+ Create Community

+ FIRST Robotics

+ A creative and nerdy woman

= Make a documentary featuring the women and girls of the Oregon FIRST Robotics program, to encourage girls to pursue technology.

It’s just that simple. And just that exciting!

I have been filming the documentary since the beginning of January in my spare time, and am currently in the middle of my sabbatical, filming the competition season. I’m looking forward to following a phenomenal group of Portland kids to the National Competition in April to complete my film. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and am excited to see my film taking shape!

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