Celebrating the Women of STEM at Convergence Networks

“When we invest in women, we are investing in the people who invest in everyone else” – Melinda Gates.

The technology industry is booming and it’s no secret that the world needs more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). In 2020 just 25% of the computing workforce was made up of women.

To celebrate today we wanted to share some stories from four Women at Convergence. We asked them a series of questions to get their perspective of what it is like to work in STEM and of course – we had to ask – what they LOVE about working at Convergence Networks.

Meet Chantalle LeFriend, Chief Operating Officer.

 “I’ve been working in the tech industry for four years. When I started working in STEM over 20 years ago, I was energized at the prospect of being part of the increasing diversity in the industry. The growing number of women entering the science and engineering fields was exciting, and so was seeing the increase of women in leadership ranks.  There have been unexpected benefits: I’ve become a much more analytical person and have incorporated data into decision making in ways that did not come naturally to me early in my career. I’ve never been disappointed by the fascinating ideas, incredibly smart people, and growth opportunities that I’ve been exposed to in this industry.”

“STEM is an industry that is always changing. My experience has been that a personal commitment and investment in continuous learning creates opportunities for anyone who wants to pursue a career in STEM.  What has benefitted me as a woman has been the exposure and sponsorship that I’ve received from others who have gone before me, regardless of their gender. That has always spoken volumes to me about growth, and that effort pays off.  This industry is a fantastic opportunity to learn and to accomplish things you may not have thought possible. I love that it’s never dull here at Convergence Networks – and that includes everything from the services and support we deliver to our clients and the People who work here and make Convergence Networks what it is today. This is a dynamic place!”

Get to know Jennifer McNeil, Service Support Team Lead.

Jennifer McNeil

“I have been working with IT for over 10 years and honestly, it started because of the pay and the growth opportunities.  And, once you dip your toes into the IT or support pond, you can’t help but love the challenges. Plus, every day is different.  I really enjoy being mentally challenged by new things each day.  The industry is constantly adapting, making it difficult to become disengaged.”

“When I first entered the industry, in my first STEM role, I was one of very few females hired into the company. Today I see a lot more women in the industry than I did even 5 years ago.  Although, I think it is still seen as a male dominated field, I have met some pretty incredible women who can tackle a bigger problem or workload, (the She-Hulk). This is a fast paced, interesting, challenging, and ever-changing industry. I would encourage more women to seek out training and new opportunities in this field.”

“The thing I love the most about Convergence Networks is the People! It’s not just the role or the work that is going to make you want to get up each day and log in from home.  A funny, friendly, and supportive team is what I look forward to each morning.  We have a well-rounded company with many diversities and different personalities.  Everyone (I do mean everyone) is so supportive and very eager to help with new changes, projects, issues, etc.”

Meet Mika Hendy, Project Coordinator.

Mika Hendry

“Officially I have been working in the tech industry for about seven years. When I was in the military, we set up and configured our VSAT for field use. The VSAT was used to give us internet access. I was looking to go back to school and start a new chapter in my life. At first, I considered going into the medical field, but it didn’t seem like a good fit for me. I was also getting older and didn’t want a labor-intensive job. So, I looked into computer science, and it seemed right up my alley and something I could do for the rest of my life.”

“Being a woman in STEM is no different than it is in any other career and industry. If you work hard, are loyal, and are friendly, it doesn’t matter what gender you are or what field you want to work in; you will be successful. If I can give advice to anyone it would be if you keep working at your goals, you can do anything that you want. Never let someone tell you that you cannot do something.

“I love working at Convergence Networks because of the values the company holds themselves and employees to. GREAT: Growth, Relationships, Existing Customers first, Accountable, and Teamwork. Work would always be fun if more companies had great values like ours.”

Introducing Rebecca Criner, Dedicated Technical Administrator.

“I have been in the tech industry full time for just about 6 years. I was drawn into STEM because I enjoy math and problem solving plus, a good puzzle is something that has always intrigued me. From a young age, I was nominated to maintain the family computer when we got one and I was almost instantly hooked. The computer was something I could put my love for problem solving into good use”

“It is great being a woman working in STEM! I absolutely love what I do. I have faced some challenges in the industry as it has been led by men for a long time. Some still have the mentality women aren’t as capable. While that mentality is diminishing these days, I have personally faced people who have refused to work with me simply because I was a woman.” 

“There is a definite lack of confidence that women, in particular lack, which is a problem. You are better than you think you are! You are more valued and more crucial to a company or project than you can imagine. Once you realize you are good enough then you will have no obstacles in your way.”

“Working for an MSP has allowed me to learn and grow in so many aspects of computers. Having lots of customers in different types of industries means you get to work in all sorts of different environments and applications. Convergence Networks supports and encourages their employees to expand their knowledge and skills. The people and environment have helped me build confidence and grow as a technician.”

Want to learn more?

You can learn more about trends in women participating in computing at the NCWIT website here. If you are already in the tech industry or are new and want to learn more consider getting involved in a mentorship program. Organizations like Portland Women in Tech (PDXWIT) have a number of ways to get involved including virtual events and volunteer opportunities. You can check out the PDXWIT website here for more information.

And, now that you know more about some of our GREAT Women at Convergence Networks are you starting to consider a career in IT? We often have opportunities for positions at our various locations. Visit our website careers section to learn more.

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