Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Why I chose UX Design as a career change in my late 40s

The idea of switching careers took me two years of digging deep about which direction I craved and what I wanted my next journey in life to encompass. I had considered the tech field because it’s a thriving market in Austin but couldn’t figure out how or where to begin. How could I jump on that moving tech train in Austin? Austin is my hometown and I’m choosing to raise my family here around their grandparents and our families, but it sure has changed since the 1970s and 1980s. Austin used to be a lazy town with majority employees from the public sector, and now is thriving cosmopolitan city with all of these new career paths. But where did I fit in?

Did I want to go back full-time in the non-profit world? I’ve helped start a couple of non-profits in Texas, worked and volunteered for two foundations, and volunteered for City of Austin commissions and boards. Despite my 25+ years of experience in the non-profit and corporate world, I craved a new challenge. The articles about how women in the tech field have invisible walls made me ponder but did not thwart my interest. I knew my strengths were collaboration, empathy, resiliency and adaptability. With the encouragement of a neighbor in the User Experience field and my loving family, I took the plunge and enrolled in the General Assembly Austin UX Design Immersive class because I knew I needed new skills.

Barton Creek in Austin — part of Austin Parks and Recreation and Watershed Protection Departments

For the last three weeks of being submerged in the immersive course, I am consumed by thoughts of how technology can improve and enhance our lives.

1- How can it help Austin’s transportation issues? Would we need to expand MoPac and disrupt our environment and the sensitive Barton Springs if we had efficient driver-less cars on MoPac that would improve management of the traffic demand?

2-Won’t better design in high school online course platforms assist high school students to be engaged in their learning, graduate with more college credits and help with the rising student debt? An Austin ISD high school online math class does not have a progress indicator, which is a challenge for swelling brain teenagers. The students don’t know where they are in the system. A deep flaw in usability. Simple, powerful, but absent. I know technology can and will help, but also sensitive that the resources are limited in public school classes, and limited in public school technology enhancements.

3-How can beacon technology improve our city (or county, state and national) parks system? A beacon in Republic Park or Barton Creek could predict and communicate historical data to the Austin Parks and Recreation Department about how many people are visiting the park and what the maintenance or potential funding needs are for certain parks. Beacons could also predict occupancy and behaviors in public spaces to create more efficient events within the park.

I am driven by personal ethics and principles, and that will carry into my future UX career. Our class is split evenly among males and females and believe this field is a place that I can continually grow as an employee and person and not be undermined because of my sex. User Experience is turning into great starting point in the tech field; a place where my teammates and I can learn from each other and help be part of the change in our community and world one step at a time.