We love nothing more than celebrating amazing women kicking goals and forging their own paths. Vivian Shen is one of those. While completing her studies at UNSW, Vivian has interned at Google and is the President of UNSW Women in Tech, a student-run society that aims to cultivate future leaders that are prepared to challenge prejudices and bring change into the industry. “I wanted to create an empowering and driven community of females within STEM, that students can look towards for inspiration and support.”
We chatted to Vivian about her passion for tech, overcoming gender bias, and her aspirations for the future.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself. Have you always been interested in tech, and what inspired you to pursue further studies in this field?
I am a third year studying a Bachelor of Data Science and Decisions (Computational Data Science major) at the University of New South Wales. At university I was involved in a number of extracurricular activities which helped me to understand what it means to be a part of a team and what it means to be a part of something greater than yourself. My experiences at university have definitely shaped me to become the person I am today. Today, I am the current President of UNSW Women In Technology (student-run society) and one of the 2020 McKinsey Women Achievement Award recipients.
My tech journey began in high school. I was fortunate to be a student at MLC School, where the teachers understood the importance of upskilling, and being well-versed in technology at a young age. Growing up I was no stranger to technology, but I was inspired to pursue a career in technology in my final year of studies. We had extremely passionate teachers with tech backgrounds who founded the Code Club. There, the teachers took the time to encourage me to be involved in technology and taught me the basics of Java, HTML and CSS. Even though I was just testing the waters, I absolutely loved it and found myself investing hours upon hours of work to create simple programs and websites. This made me realise my calling towards technology and encouraged me to pursue a career in that field.
You are President of UNSW Women in Technology which is an amazing achievement. What do you get out of being a part of this society?
This year, I stepped in as President of UNSW Women In Technology Society (WIT). Like myself, many of us have battled against gender bias and chose to pursue a STEM degree. I wanted to create an empowering and driven community of females within STEM, that students can look towards for inspiration and support.
As President, you get to see your visions for the society become a reality, and it is an absolute honour to be building on top of the WIT mission and seeing myself as part of the change. I take great pride and joy in inspiring others and cultivating future leaders to help build this extraordinarily talented and driven community of women in technology.
Congratulations on your placement as an intern in the Google STEP program. What does this entail and what have you gotten about of the experience so far?
This was my first proper industry experience and I was extremely lucky to receive an internship at such an established and respectable company. As a part of the Google STEP program, I was paired with another STEP intern, and together we both worked on creating customer facing, accessible front-end experiences for Canvas, the Google PWA for digital drawings.
During my time there, we were able to pick up new coding languages, familiarise ourselves with the internal tools as well as practicing industry standard programming and understanding how cross-functional teams collaborate in a professional workplace. We had the absolute pleasure of being mentored by hosts (managers) who were incredibly inspiring and encouraging of our learning at Google.
I found that the best part about being at Google was the incredibly friendly and encouraging environment with a good balance of fun and work. This internship was such a memorable experience for me, and the Google work culture inspired the adjustment of my Women In Technology team in our early stages.
What’s your ambition for the future?
No matter where I go I know I will still be a bit advocate for women in technology. I am extremely passionate about education, tech and supporting women in technology. In the future, I definitely want to create a tech startup for positive social change.
What would you say to other women interested in studying tech?
- Pursue your passion.
- Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people whose goals and values are aligned with yours.
- Be the change you seek.
What are you excited about right now?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She came in as the youngest US congresswoman and in a short time she has managed to achieve a lot. Her speech against gendered power imbalance, has definitely been at the forefront of my mind.
Career Accelerator is a UNSW Business School service that connects students with industry, preparing them for a successful career. Individuals and organisations have the opportunity to support female business students by offering to share their own knowledge and experiences. To learn more about how you can support the next generation of Business Chicks, connect with UNSW or contact [email protected]