I have lived in Utah my entire life, born in a small farming community, in Morgan, and was raised by my mother, who was a single mom raising five children in what I will refer to as litters. My half-brothers were at least a decade older than me, and then a decade later she raised her two grandchildren. In Morgan, Utah it is difficult to find diversity, and even more difficult to be different. Morgan is a small, predominately Mormon, town, in which there are certain expectations of the role of a woman. Men are regarded very highly in the Mormon religion. Women in Morgan are expected to be a homemaker, handling all of the responsibilities of taking care of a loving home. My Father was an alcoholic and left our home when I was 1 1/2 years old and moved out of state.
My Mother never went to college and did not have any dreams of owning her own business; she did her best to provide for her children while remaining within the expected role of a woman. She worked at an Air Force Base where promotions were generally given to women who would do sexual favors for the boss. My mother chose to not lower her standards and therefore struggled to make ends meet by not receiving promotions.
Of my family, I am the only one to dream of owning my own business and the only one to have pursued higher education, thus breaking from the family mold and becoming a success in the business world. I have exceeded any expectations of my family and never let the various challenges and obstacles associated with being a woman impede upon my path to success.
Living in a small town for most of my life, I was expected to follow into the traditional role of a woman, and in some memories of my childhood, I remember how my family and I were socially biased. I can remember being wrapped in a socially acceptable “pink” blanket, how my mother spoke to me with a soft voice of understanding, and how I was given a baby doll to play with instead of a truck, all because of my gender. As I became older, I already understood what were “acceptable behavior” and the tasks and responsibilities for girls, which did not include owning my own business.
It was not socially acceptable where I lived for girls to have technical skills or design anything that was not fashionable. Becoming a software engineer was not socially acceptable in my family, my town, or the business world. Many girls in adolescence go through changes which negatively affect self-image and future choices. As a result, girls often refrain from asking questions and sharing answers. Many girls feel inferior to others or wish to mask their leadership abilities and intelligence and decline opportunities to take part in student government, clubs, or challenges that may cause failure. These issues also discourage some girls from taking part in higher track classes in math, science, and computer science. These are all biases, which were not always this obvious; I had to overcome in order to become successful as a software engineer.
I remained in Morgan for my education through high school, experiencing the same environment, interacting with the same people, and following the path I was expected to pursue. I then married out of high school and only attending one semester of college before beginning to work full time. I underestimated the difficulty of breaking out of the stereotypical role I had been following, graduate high school and get married. It was not until 1995 did I return to college, while continuing to work full time and raise three children, and begin pursuing my degree in Business Information Systems, graduating from the University of Phoenix in 1999.
During my employment at various organizations, I was indeed the subject of blatant gender discrimination, which propelled me to other companies in which I succeeded. It is interesting to note that this gender discrimination did not hold me back and in fact may have made me stronger on my pursuit of higher potential in my career and ultimately my own business. Unfortunately this progression to entrepreneur did not allow my marriage to survive.
I decided to start a business, Sensory Technology Consultants, in 2006 after having a great friend offer me a contract with Nasa to do some software development work. The purpose of the ChemSecure Phase II pilot (NASA) was to control item content and staff credentials based on real-time information, to ensure safety and security of personnel and chemicals, and to push organized mission critical data to emergency responders when addressing chemical accidents. The ChemSecure Phase II pilot enhanced the HMMS application using sensor based technology and real time response technology to track hazardous materials using radio frequency ID tags.
Today Sensory Technology Consultants is a multi-million dollar business and we are thriving and growing. You can choose to make something of your past or you can become a victim of your past. The choice is yours and I chose success.