“I got a master’s in computer science too, but mostly so that I could be a computer science TA and pay my tuition in engineering and public policy. I never planned on being a computer scientist, but here I am.”
Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.
I walk to work and usually arrive by 9 am. Most days include one-on-one meetings with my PhD students, larger research meetings with students and colleagues collaborating on a specific research project, faculty or committee meetings, attending a seminar, preparing to teach a class, teaching a class, providing feedback to my students on paper drafts, meetings with my staff, answering a lot of emails, and more!
How do you stay passionate in your career?
Being a professor at CMU I get to work with so many really bright students who come up with all sorts of crazy ideas for things I would have never thought up myself. We end up pursuing some of these ideas as new research projects. I’m always finding new research areas to get excited about.
Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?
Sort of…. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in “engineering and public policy.” Along the way, I got a master’s in computer science too, but mostly so that I could be a computer science TA and pay my tuition in engineering and public policy. I never planned on being a computer scientist, but here I am.
Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?
Email and web browsers are pretty much indispensable to me.
It’s common knowledge that women and femmes sometimes face obstacles in the tech industry based on perceived identity. Did you ever have to face barriers like this and if so how did you overcome them?
In my first job after grad school I learned I was being paid less than my male peers who were hired at the same time I was. I complained to my manager but he didn’t do anything about it until I came back with an offer from another company and threatened to leave. Suddenly my manager who said he couldn’t do anything about my salary managed to get a raise approved in 24 hours. I’ve had more subtle situations since then where I felt I was being overlooked for an opportunity in favor of male colleagues. I’ve gotten very used to being in situations where I am the only woman in the room. That sometimes bothers me but I don’t let it hold me back.
Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.
I’ve had lots of great things happen in the past year. I was appointed director of the Carnegie Mellon CyLab Security and Privacy Institute, I received an alumni achievement award at my alma matter, and I won an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.
Favorite quote if you have one?
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.Dr. Seuss
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