Meet UX Engineer Cindy Ross: STEM and Women In Tech Advocate
We've also previously interviewed her in this brief video:
Q: Introduce yourself, give us your background, and explain your role at Ivanti.
CR: I am a user experience (UX) engineer and I’ve been in the field for about eight years. I started as a web designer after getting my degree in digital media with an emphasis in broadcast and post production. I fell into user experience before it was a field. I did DVD authoring (yes, DVDs) during my senior project and enjoyed the steps and process of it.
My current typical work day involves attending stand-ups, groomings, collaborating with team members, wire-framing, storyboarding, designing, user research, and prototyping for the development teams I work with.
I got my degree when I had three young children as a single mother and was a recipient of the Sunshine Ladies Foundation Scholarship during my junior and senior year. This empowered me to be an advocate for women to become independent, no matter what their life may bring them.
Q: Why are you passionate about empowering women in technology?
CR: Women need to understand that they are equals. Technology is both creative and analytic. Women have a keen ability to multitask and nurture, which is fundamental for any successful product. All genders use our products, and in order for the products to be balanced, there needs to be a balance in the point of view. A woman can support a family with technical skills, and it is the foundation of stability to be able to provide.
Q: Can you tell us more about your work with Ivanti’s STEM initiative?
CR: Ivanti has a program that helps the younger generation learn the basic skills they can use and apply to become self-sufficient individuals.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a girl’s coding class that is part of Ivanti’s STEM initiative. These girls are so bright and excited about learning this skill.
One day in class, one of the girls was struggling to figure out what subject she wanted to make her site on. I started asking her questions about what she likes to do She said she liked playing her instruments. We then started talking about musicals and which ones we wanted to see. I said, “You should make your site about the music you love to play and the musicals you have experienced.”
I find that teaching code is one thing, but inspiring young girls to share their passions with others is the most rewarding. It was hard to get this young girl out of her shell but connecting with her and helping her see that she has good ideas was so rewarding.
Q: What advice do you have for women who are experiencing gender equality related issues in the workplace?
CR: There is always going to be a person or workplace that will not see you as an equal. The best way to overcome this is to show them you are an equal. My favorite word is gumption. Always strive to be an employee with gumption. If you stand up and tell people what you know, you will be seen.
Use your natural instincts to be nurturing and cohesive to all personalities you encounter. The only way to break the stereotype is to never validate it. Remember that you are part of a team and a team has no gender.
Q: Do you have any advice for companies as they strive to encourage gender equality?
CR: I feel like most companies strive for this. It is such a fine balance. Create a network in the office that is for men and women to discuss gender equality. Try to invite the women to lunch when a group is heading out. Listen to what women have to say and keep them in the loop.
Q: Who are you inspired by?
CR: I am inspired by the everyday person, including my UX engineer family – Dave, Eric, Brandon, Julie, and Nick. They make every day bright. They inspire me with their Jedi skills and support. I’m also inspired by my dad for teaching me that, “Anything a boy can do, a girl can do better” (that’s an Annie Get your Gun reference for the musical gurus out there). Lastly, I’m inspired by my children, because they are my rock, and Mozart, because his music clears my mind.
Q: Any final comments?
CR: The Sunshine Lady Foundation offers The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program. It is available nationally through local domestic violence agencies.