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JAX Developers Puzzle deadline approaching: Play for a chance to win a complimentary JAX London 2018 ticket!
Profile: Lynn Langit, independent cloud architect and developer

“We need fewer WiT luncheons and more women coding & deploying projects side by side with men”

Gabriela Motroc
diversity
© Shutterstock /Lamina2014

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Lynn Langit, independent cloud architect and developer.

A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Women in Tech — The Survey

We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!

Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.

Without further ado, we would like to introduce Lynn Langit, independent cloud architect and developer.

Lynn Langit, independent cloud architect and developer

Lynn Langit is a cloud architect and developer who works with Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform.

She specializes in big data projects. Lynn has worked with AWS Athena, Aurora, Redshift, Kinesis, and the IoT.  She has also done production work with Databricks for Apache Spark and Google Cloud Dataproc, Bigtable, BigQuery, and Cloud Spanner.

Lynn is also the co-founder of Teaching Kids Programming. She has spoken on data and cloud technologies in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

What got you interested in technology?

I’ve always been a science and math nerd.  Love gears, gadgets and machines – and am passionately curious.  I want to understand how things actually work.

My move into coding started when I was on an extended bed rest during a difficult pregnancy – taught myself to code at that time.  In fact, I coded and deployed my first website (to show off baby pictures) – that was 20 years ago.

How did you end up in your career path?

At age 12, after getting a perfect score on a math test, I asked my math teacher what types of math-related careers that I might consider, he said, ‘Oh honey, girls don’t do math.’  Unfortunately, I believed him.

I got a degree is in linguistics and had a successful business career.  I switched to technology at age 36 and started coding at 38. I worked first as a technical instructor, started with the most basic technologies but I quickly discovered a love of databases. I worked in the Microsoft ecosystem (instructor, partner, employee) for over 10 years and wrote three books on SQL Server.

I started my own company in 2011 and I haven’t looked back since then. I moved from Microsoft / database into Cloud and expanded my knowledge to include data pipeline architectures. I work with all public cloud vendors – AWS, GCP, Azure and Alibaba and I split my time 50/50 between creating and delivering technical education and building solutions. I am also an AWS Community Hero and GCP Cloud Developer Expert.

I resumed my math education at 51, when I did 500 lessons in Khan Academy over a one year period, culminating in finally learning calculus!  My daughter (who is now a first-year university student) has promised to teach me differential equations this summer – I can’t wait! 

I am currently working on democratizing machine learning with customers and courses.  My latest course at Lynda.com is ‘AWS Machine Learning Essential Training‘.

A strong support system

My mother was an amazing support, helping me to raise my daughter while I switched careers (from business to tech) as a single mom.  

I have a fantastic circle of friends worldwide. Rather than any one role model, I continually learn from a number of top technical people.  Work presented in talks by Katrina Owen, Jessica Kerr and Danielle Leong have been particularly inspiring.  

Along the way there are many advocates (both male and female) who have been instrumental in my career growth.  In particular, Sam Newman, Martin Thompson and Adrian Cockcroft have made a number of key introductions that have been instrumental in moving my career forward.

Inevitable bumps in the road

That math teacher did slow things down a bit.  

Also, I had a corporate job with a toxic boss.  The experience caused me to leave that company and to start my own business so that, ultimately turned out for the best.

A day in Lynn’s life

I am an independent Cloud Architect and Developer.  Every day is a new and different challenge. Sometimes I work from home for weeks, or even months, on end, working with a variety of customers on everything from architecting, coding and deploying solutions to testing new cloud services.

I work with as few as 5 and as many as 30 customers per year. At other times I am somewhere in the world, working with a customer or delivering a technical talk or keynote.  In fact, I will be in Germany to keynote GOTO:Berlin this fall.

I devote around 25% of my time to professional technical volunteering.  I’ve done this for many years.

SmartCare Electronic Medical System in Zambia – 5 years – work on the HIV and TB healthcare issues, via side-by-side work with local developers and DBAs  in Lusaka on technical capacity building and system optimization.

Teaching Kids Programming – 10 years – work on the ‘pipeline’ problem of girls not learning tech in middle school, via leading the development effort for the OSS TKPJava courseware library. The library consists of 80 coding lessons & teacher preparation materials and is designed to be used by teachers with students ages 10+

CSIRO Bioinformatics team in Sydney, Australia – recent work –  work on the problem of expensive and slow feedback cycles for cancer genomic research for CRISPR-CaS9 immunotherapy research, via scaling genomic research tools (GT-Scan2 and VariantSpark) effectively on the public cloud

Also, over 3 million people have watched one or more of my Lynda.com courses on cloud and big data topics.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

  • Too many unchecked vocal assholes.  
  • Limiting assumptions about interest and capabilities of women – particularly problematic during adolescence (unfortunately often reinforced by some teachers and even parents).
  • Unequal pay. Lack of access to capital for women-run startups.

An obstacle women in tech usually face is imposter syndrome.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?

To get results, define measurable goals, such as the number of women working in an area, pay for women vs. men, etc… and act accordingly.  Prefer enforcing the law, by all means needed. Measure access to education and capital (from VCs).

Fewer weekend events (parties with pink shirts) and WiT luncheons, more women coding and deploying actual projects side-by-side with men.

I don’t know when it’s going to get better.  My own daughter, now 19, will not be a developer  (even though she’s been coding since she was 10) because of what she’s seen of my work life.

Tips & tricks

You and only you define your technical capabilities. It’s never too late to learn anything. Ask for and get paid what you are worth. Ask for what you want – time off, benefits, preferred clients, etc…Amplify the work of other technical women. Thank male advocates.

Build tech that matters.

 

Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:

Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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