Through The Futures Fund, many different lives come together to create an amazing program. From trainee to business owner, the women of the Futures Fund showcase a multitude of talent, drive, and of course, a willingness to showcase that tech isn't just for men.
Shermaine S. Haymer is no newbie to the technology industry.
For the last 20 years, the Access Sciences project manager has had various roles. She has been a programmer, systems analyst, software administrator and has played a key part in the development of Futures Fund.
“You don't have to be a genius in math or science to become a great developer,” Haymer says. “You just have to understand logic and understand how things work.”
Haymer strives to encourage more youth to pursue careers in the technology field. Since she didn’t have access to coding courses when she was growing up, she especially wants to help others learn web development skills early on.
“The more people we have behind the scenes, the better outcomes we will have,” Haymer says. “There are serious ethical decisions that have to be made right now. We need developers or young people who understand the ethical applications and the role technology plays in our future.”
As a Black woman developer, she has gotten used to being the only woman in male-dominated workspaces. She was more often challenged for being a woman than being Black, Haymer says. Despite the pushback, she continues to inspire other women and young girls to follow their dreams of working in the technology industry and set young coders up for success.
“I love Futures Fund so much because we’re encouraging students to become creators rather than users,” Haymer says. “We’re not just here to consume and use content, we can actually create our own apps and software and design it from the ground up. It’s a very fulfilling role and career path. I learn something new every day.”
Padma Vatsavai is used to being the only woman in a room.
The CEO of Baton Rouge-based software firm Vinformatix has worked in the technology industry for over 20 years. Last year, she was named one of the 2020 Influential Women in Business by Baton Rouge Business Report and continues to receive recognition for her achievements in the field.
As one of the few women in a male-dominated industry, Vatsavai never saw her gender as a disadvantage. Instead, she focused solely on her passion for technology and solving problems.
“Technology is a field that demands mental strength, and when it comes to mental strength it's an even playing field with males and females,” Vatsavai says to any woman considering working in the technology industry. “Don’t fear. Let's prove that we can do it.”
Vatsavai has been a software developer for public and private sectors, worked as a software architect, team leader, and software consultant at multiple companies. She is also a Walls Project board member. For two years, she has helped provide instructors to train Futures Fund Tech Academy students and put together curriculum and online videos on how to code.
“Technology is such a powerful tool,” Vatsavai says. “It has the power to eliminate borders and bring people from different countries together. It makes the impossible possible.”