As technology speeds ahead, careers in science, technology, engineering and math are in high demand. Yet, women in the United States continue to lag behind in such jobs.
A spokeswoman for GoDaddy, she will join San Luis Obispo County resident Blake Irving, chief executive officer of GoDaddy, in a panel discussion from 11 a.m. to noon Jan. 20 at Cal Poly about the importance of STEM careers and women in science and technology fields.
GoDaddy is a privately held company that registers domain names and does Web hosting for businesses.
In recent years Irving, who became CEO in 2013, has shifted the way the company represents women in its brand and advertising and is promoting causes supporting women in technology, according to the company.
GoDaddy has made an effort to put women in top leadership positions, and last year signed veteran executives from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, Cisco, Intuit and eBay. Former Apple executive Betsy Rafael is on its board of directors. Irving and chief technology officer Elissa Murphy created a GoDaddy Women in Technology employee group where the company brings in speakers and provides opportunities for women to network and learn from each other’s experiences.
“Overall, 30 percent of GoDaddy senior leaders are women while it’s not where we want it to be, it’s moving in the right direction,” said Karen Tillman, the company’s chief communications officer.
The Cal Poly panel is the first community-wide event to promote STEM and women in technology that Patrick and Irving have done together, Tillman said.
For Patrick, 32, who displays the hashtag STEM on her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy, her own successful career as a race car driver is proof that women can break barriers.
"For me, it's about talking about my experience as a woman in a male-dominated sport," she said in a telephone interview with The Tribune on Tuesday. "I think that really applies to women in technology, and it's bringing attention to the value of technology across the board."
At the age of 10, Patrick, who grew up in Wisconsin, started racing go-karts.
"I was hooked on performing and setting a goal and accomplishing it," she said of her introduction to racing.
She has come a long way since those early days, becoming the first woman to lead the Indy 500 and the first woman to win the pole position at the Daytona 500, according to Biography.com. Patrick recognizes her part as a role model, and she hopes that her efforts to promote technology will encourage women to think about how technology can be "used in so many different ways."
"They just need to be given the concept and think about it, and start to dream about ways they can make that their reality and their job," Patrick said.
Racing, for example, is very much dependent on technology, she noted.
"You can get into the sport by pursuing a technology-based career," Patrick said. "The two most important people are the driver, and then the crew chief, who is the one that makes all the decisions."
NASCAR has been hiring crew chiefs with a large engineering background, she said, adding that she isn't aware of any female crew chiefs.
Still, there are opportunities, she said, and Patrick wants women to know that their gender shouldn't stand in the way of them chasing their dreams with confidence.
"That's why the GoDaddy slogan, 'It's Go Time,' is so perfect," she said. "Just do something, start somewhere and go. There are so many ways to get to where you want to go. It's not necessarily picking the perfect way to get there; just start the process."