This is part two in a two-part series with Alisha Moore. She is a visual designer for IBM, and she talks about some of the struggles women and minorities deal with in the tech industry and her work to address them outside of the day-to-day.
How do you feel about our careers considering the ever-changing technology we work with?
Even with AI, we (designers) will never go away. AI still needs to have some sort of personality. It’s gonna have some sort of user interface. The best way that I can think of it is with Rosie on the Jetsons. She does have an interface in her stomach.
What are some of the things you’re doing outside of the day-to-day?
I really have a focus on women and minority women when they are in school. Recruiting really starts before they enter high school. When you started off, you thought that you wanted to be a doctor or lawyer. Did anyone want to be software designer?
What are the issues or obstacles you have to address for women and minorities in tech?
There’s a lot of fear around being the only woman and not being viewed as intelligent as my male counterparts. A lot of women and young girls are scared about being successful and then having to take maternity leave.
You thought that you wanted to be a doctor or lawyer. Did anyone want to be software designer?
(Women) struggle with how do I have a voice. This is a big issue. Then bring in imposter syndrome, we all feel like oh my god I don’t know what I’m doing. None of us know what we’re doing!
And about Social Pressures for Starting a Family?
It plays a big factor. I’ve heard from several women that they were doing really well in the early part of their careers. Then they got married and had kids. When they came back, things were just not what it was.
It is really hard to be a mom and a career professional. I don’t have kids I’m just making assumptions on trying to balance those two.
What is that project you’re doing with Stanford University?
It’s a disrupt Diabetes project. At Stanford, they have teams. I call them little pockets of people that include a researcher, a designer, and a diabetic patient. It is interesting because the scope of the project is to think of an innovative technology that can address the needs of a diabetic patient.
It’s really hard but a good challenge. It’s taught me that a lot of people have diabetes. But as a society, we are not addressing the underlying causes (i.e. obesity and the quality of food). We don’t have resources that are readily available for people under a certain income bracket. This includes apps and sensors for glucose monitoring. These are all things that are available but they’re not readily available to someone under certain income brackets.
What advice would you give someone starting out in design?
Be humble. You start to develop your skill sets and move on. Avoid getting a big head. You may be good, but someone is always better.
Also, ask lots of questions. Not just for learning about your craft, but for job satisfaction. If you find yourself at a job where you’re not happy, ask yourself why you’re not happy. Is it the company culture, is it that you just don’t wanna be doing that type of work.