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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Local mom launches business to help other women pursue tech careers

Posted August 9, 2020 8:48 p.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2020 8:02 a.m. EDT

Ellen Twomey left the workforce in 2009 to raise her four children, never thinking it would be so hard to return to employment.

"When I was ready to reenter the tech workforce, I felt behind the curve despite having worked as a software developer. My confidence was low and my options felt pretty narrow," she says. "It just wasn't what I had envisioned for my life."

Ellen Twomey of You are TechY!

Twomey eventually went back to school to earn a master's degree in learning, design and technology and reentered the workforce as a freelance UX designer, helping to make software intuitive and user-friendly.

She built a successful career, and now she's hoping to help other women like her find success in tech. She recently launched You are Techy!, a technology training and coaching program that's designed to prepare women for a job in UX (or user experience) design.

Right now, just 20% of technology roles are held by women. But with an average salary of $85,000, the industry offers plenty of opportunities for women.

I checked in with Twomey, who lives in Cary, to learn more about her and how she's helping other women pursue careers like hers.

Go Ask Mom: Like many moms do, you spent some time at home raising your young kids and realized how hard it was to return to professional life. What was that experience like in those early days as you looked for a job?

Ellen Twomey: I lost my confidence and would find myself scrolling endlessly through Indeed job postings, thinking I’m not qualified for this, they would never want me. It wasn’t until I decided on a path, took action and decided that I would be a great mom and have a great career that the solutions came to me and I figured out a path that worked for my family. I didn’t want other moms to go through that. I wanted to give them a path and a solution.

GAM: How did You are techY get its start? What was the aha moment?

ET: I was running my UX Consultancy, UX Simplified, and I wanted to be around more women and moms so I started a local Raleigh-based Meetup. I met amazing women who had very technical experiences but wouldn’t identify as techy. They would say, I have a master's degree in computer science or decades of experience, but I’m not really very techy. I would shout across the table - YOU are techY! Hence the name.

GAM: What does You are techY offer?

ET: We offer courses and coaching in getting started in tech, UX design and, coming soon, development. Our current UX Portfolio course is being offered with one free month of weekly group coaching sessions. Our students love the support and ability to customize their track, seamlessly moving roadblocks out of their way so they can get that portfolio completed and get hired!

GAM: Why is tech such an obvious career move for women who are reentering the workforce?

ET: Tech is great for moms because it has everything they are looking for: flexibility, high pay and meaningful work. Technology spans every sector, every industry, every organization. Add to that, within technology there are so many roles. That’s why I can say with such confidence, regardless of your interests or experience, there is a tech job for you.

GAM: A lot of women don't think, for whatever reason, they're cut out for this kind of work. What do you say to those women? What's your pep talk?

ET: If you feel like you aren’t “good” at tech, I want you to ask yourself this question, “was this technology designed for the way I think?” If no, consider there is nothing wrong with you, there’s something wrong with technology. Why doesn’t it work for you the way it should? Maybe it needs your design input so that you can work the technology seamlessly!

GAM: What are your hopes for You are TechY in the future?

ET: Every woman knows that she is techy and believes that tech is an option for her. Crush the 20% of tech roles held by women stat and make it 50%.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.