For part two in our series on women in tech, we talked to
Leia Shilobod (@LeiaShilobod),
InTech Solutions, Inc.,
a managed services company based outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
We asked Leia to share her story on what inspired her to pursue a career in the tech industry, what challenges she faced along the way, and
what she thinks needs to change for more women and girls to consider pursuing a career in tech.
The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What Inspired You to Work in Tech?
I didn't start in tech. I actually started in human services because I like people. I felt intimidated by math / numbers, and didn't like the
idea that I would be working on a computer all day long. I felt like I needed a "higher purpose," and thought human services was it.
I founded InTech in 2006 with my husband as the systems engineer. I learned tech because I had to in order to build this business. Turns out
it isn't as intimidating as I thought, and my primary purpose is to help people and businesses. I often tell our support team that they decided
to get into IT because they like tech, but they actually signed up to be crisis counselors. No one ever calls for support because they just want
to check in and say hi!
Have You Faced Any Challenges as a Woman in Tech?
I look young and I'm a woman, so sometimes with prospects – and often with my peers – I am not taken seriously. I anticipate that
and I'm not afraid to show the value of doing business with InTech Solutions.
If you told me when I started this business 11 years ago that I would have the knowledge and skill set I do today, I would have told you that
you're nuts. There's NO WAY I'd be able to understand these technical concepts. Heck, I couldn't even conceptualize what a switch did!
Maybe part of the problem, and why more women aren't in tech, is the mystification of IT. It's like it's made out to be a magic you can't
understand if you need to know more than plug and play.
It is hard to find women to recruit to work for my company. I get so few resumes from women – maybe one out of every 75 that applies for
a position. I think some women, like me initially, find IT intimidating. I used to get anxiety about solving IT problems until my husband sat me
down and said, "It's all ones and zeroes. It's logic. If you're logical, you can solve the problem."
I remember that any time we come upon a problem that's hard to solve, or I'm helping my team troubleshoot something.
I have one woman who currently works with us on our support team who is amazing. Her training was mostly on the job prior to coming to InTech.
She knows what I know about our field – it's logic, we're smart, and we can figure it out.
What Do You Think Needs to Change for More Women to Choose a Tech Career?
More examples of successful women in tech. People like YOU to write about successful systems engineers, technicians, programmers, analysts,
and business owners who are also mothers, friends, wives, and active in their communities. Give girls and other women someone to look up to and
something to strive for! Another thing we need is more mentoring opportunities for women to grow a support network of success.
[Editor's note: If you haven't already, be sure to also read last week's profile of Jigyasa Chaturvedi. Check back next week to read another Spotlight on Women in Tech
About the Contributor
Leia Kupris Shilobod is the founder of InTech Solutions, Inc., a Pittsburgh-area IT
consulting firm specializing in working with growing manufacturers and professional services firms who want same-side-of-the-table advice and
integration for computers, networks, and IT security. She is also an author, mother of four, college board member, and Sunday school teacher.