Interview with Heather Kozak
Starting a career can be difficult, but it can be even more challenging as a woman working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) fields. Women make up just under a third of the workforce in these industries and, as a result, struggle to navigate and succeed in STEM fields. Despite numerous studies that found greater diversity strengthens innovation and performance in business, these industries continue to struggle with women being underrepresented in the workforce.
We sat down with Heather Kozak, a junior Software Developer who was hired during the pandemic, to discuss some of the challenges, experiences, and advice that she has for young women entering STEM.
Job title: Jr. Software Developer
Years working in STEM fields: 2 years
Years working at Alithya: 1 year
Degrees/Education: B.Sc. in Computer Science
Fun Fact: I played flute in a marching band in university, and I got to play at the Juno Awards one year.
When did you first become interested in working in STEM? What influenced your interest in and decision to work in STEM?
Why did you choose to work for Alithya? What are some of the ways Alithya has helped your career in STEM?
What advice would you give to women who are starting their careers in STEM?
What are some unique challenges as a female leader in the STEM industry? Are there any special skills or perspectives that you rely on to navigate through challenges that arise?
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to skills is to take time to research and then just be confident in your answer. It’s better to show your work and have an opinion on the matter than to just go in and say I don’t know. At the same time, however, you are never expected to know everything, and when you don’t know something, show that you are willing to learn. In all circumstances, confidence is key.
At Alithya, diversity and inclusion are engrained in the company’s corporate culture, and numerous initiatives have been implemented in recent years to address a wide range of much-needed discussions and actions. One such initiative has been ensuring that we are actively supporting and engaging with women and diversity activities outside of our company. One such activity is the upcoming Women for STEM Summit held by the Ontario Tech University, as well as the Women in Nuclear Annual Global Conference that Alithya will be attending.
This is the first installment of a series where we sit down with Alithya coworkers to discuss some of the challenges, experiences, and advice for young women who are interested in entering STEM. To read more, you will find Brandy and Dipti’s interviews posted soon.