Coming from a modest household in Brazil, with a very traditional father and a mother who hoped for me to work in a bank, I was brought up being told my working life would begin at the age of 16. In preparation for this, my parents enrolled me in a typewriting course when I was just 13 years old.
I started the typewriting course, but it was the building next to it that really caught my attention – called SOS Computers, it offered courses in Clipper programming.
As soon as I’d completed my typewriter training, I began learning how to do the same on a computer and learnt Clipper as my first programming tool. I fell instantly in love with programming and decided, at the age of 14, that I wanted to pursue an education in STEM.
I was a diligent student, enamoured with all things STEM, learning how things work, how to solve problems and get exact answers through science and maths. I read about women like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Janelle Monáe – better known today as the NASA women in the film, Hidden Figures. I was inspired by them to think like an engineer and how these fields can really make the world better through improved processes and efficiencies.
At that time, only private schools offered STEM classes, which my family could not afford. So, I attended a public college and took courses in science, technology and engineering; and from there I went to university to study engineering at the age of 17.
Through hard work, and navigating a difficult path of being a woman in a predominantly male field, I became a technology director by 26 and co-founded Pismo by the age of 40.
When we launched Pismo, I had the word “resilience” tattooed on my arm and – when we went through hyper-growth in 2021 – the word “gratitude” tattooed on the other. These are constant reminders for me to be resilient during the difficult times, and grateful in the good times.
My advice to women and girls wanting to follow a career in science: make use of the infinite resources now available online. Learn whatever topic you are interested in – there are often free training courses available, and companies dedicated to helping women transition to these fields.
Stay curious, be inspired and don’t worry if you find yourself on a typewriting course – you never know where it might take you!