We spoke with SK’s Director of I.T. Melissa Stone. Learn more about her experience as a woman in science as we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science this February 11th.
Have you always loved science?
MS: I’ve always had a curiosity for how things worked and never shied away from trying to fix something or make it better.
How do you leverage science in your position?
MS: All IT systems are designed with the intent to make a task, process, or job easier some are better than others. Where science can come in is determining the best tool rather it be a device, program, or something yet to be developed. There is always a lot of trial and error and research involved in solving challenges.
Is it fun?
MS: Yes, but like any job/career it has its challenges. In the last 30 years, Technology has grown so much and created so many different opportunities and career types, if you get tired of one aspect of it you can try another as the base principles are the same. There are plenty of avenues to specialize in and there is always a need for someone who is well-rounded enough to understand all aspects of IT and find a way to lead a company through its needs.
Did you think as a child that you would pursue the sciences and use them in your job?
MS: As a child I wanted to be all kinds of things from an Architect to a Park Ranger, I even wanted to join the Air Force at one point. I landed in technology because I was struggling in school with math of all things. My parents put me in a somewhat experimental tutoring program that involved computers when they first came out. I was hooked from there. I built my first computer my senior year in high school and took it to college.
Were you ever the only female in a class or meeting, and how did you approach that?
MS: Often. Growing up in a ranching community I had all kinds of practice in male male-dominated environment, but I also had good role models that were both male and female. In the business world, I try to approach every situation with no preconceived notions and willingness to work through problems. When you come in with a chip on your shoulder regardless of your background you get nowhere quick as people shut you down with their own preconceived notion.
What would you tell a little girl who loves science?
MS: Do what makes you happy, there is a reason why they call it work so pursuing a career that makes you happy, keeps you engaged and challenged is going to make the time you spend working much more enjoyable. You also must be willing to put in the time and work required to excel in the field you choose. There will always be obstacles, both physical and mental but I’ve often found that the only person that truly holds you back is yourself and its ok if once you are there you change your mind about what you want in life. No matter what always do your best.