Silicon Slopes Pushing Back on Stereotypes: Women in Tech
Of the hundreds of photos I took at the 2019 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, this one is my favorite.
Meet Kayle Orantes—a 15-year-old freshman from Davis county who bested hundreds of other nerds at #SSTS19 in decoding a Pattern Trivia Contest—which consisted of mathematical sequences, geometric formulas and even Harry Potter trivia—to win the “Health Nerd Package.”
As the contest winner, Kayle took home some awesome prizes from Pattern partners including Yogi tea, Pure supplements, Thymes hand sanitizer, Feetures socks, a gym bag and a Jamba Juice gift card. Kayle took home quite the haul! But, as you’ll see, I took home much more from our brief encounter.
I love this photo for two reasons:
1. Kayle’s smarts, enthusiasm, and charm are contagious—you can immediately tell that this girl is going places!
2. Kayle is pictured alongside Cassandra Shaffer, Pattern’s Sr. Marketing Manager, who is the poster child of emerging female tech talent and leadership.
Both young women are the kind of talent that Silicon Slopes is desperately trying to attract and cultivate. They are also paving the way for future female leaders in this community—much like Pattern’s co-founder and current Chief Investment Officer, Melanie Alder, has broken gender barriers, stereotypes and naysayers to help build the fastest-growing company in Utah over $100M in revenue.
Following the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, I caught up with Kayle to learn more about her background, interests, and aspirations—what follows is a briefly edited synopsis of our exchange.
What drew you to the 2019 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit?
I attended the Silicon Slopes event because of SheTech. I am one of the student board members for SheTech and I get amazing perks, such as two free tickets to attend Silicon Slopes this year. I additionally got two more free tickets from a program called Code-A-Thon that is a girls-only event intended to promote more girls in science/tech fields. With the total four tickets I received, I was so happy to take my mom, sister, and brother-in-law, to the event with me.
Tell me a little bit more about your background. Why are you interested in tech?
As of this year, I am a 9th grader in the Davis School District. In my school, there are 4 main computer science classes, Exploring Technology 1 and 2, Gaming Development Fundamentals, and Exploring Computer Science. Because of my interests in computer science, I have taken all the classes possible. My dream career is to be a white hat hacker for the FBI because the job would be such a fulling career to have in life. I think it is so amazing to be able to hack computers, for the good of the government of course, and see if any of the government’s protection is compromised.
You just bested a bunch of other (older) nerds in the contest. How did that happen?
All my interests in STEM fields have been around for 6 years because math has always been my absolute favorite subject in school, and I won my first math competition in 3rd grade. From there, I have competed in a math competition each and every year and I have always ended up placing which I am so grateful for.
How does it feel being a girl in tech?
One of my proudest experiences is competing in a competition called MathCounts—a four-round competition that is intended for students in 8th grade or younger. Last year, I scored 6th place! Out of the top ten finalists, I was the only girl. This year, no girls were in the top ten seats. In the previous years to me placing, no girls have been in the top ten. That experience opened my eyes to see that where I want to be is not a place where many women are at. Events like that have shaped me and pushed me to go further than what I had imagined. I want to be a role model just for standing out and inspiring others to push themselves as I have and to see the difference that perseverance can make.
What other local organizations are helping you reach your goals?
Due to my want to go into STEM fields, I joined a program called SheTech last year and became a student board member over the summer. SheTech is an amazing program created by women to inspire young girls to push themselves and become the best version of themselves that they can be. I am lucky to be a student board member because attending events like Silicon Slopes would have never been possible without them. The entire SheTech and Women Tech Council is a very open loving community of women in tech and I am incredibly fortunate to be involved with them because they have changed my life for the better.
Interested in seeing a recap of Pattern at Silicon Slopes? Check out the video below.
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