Our Favorite STEMinist
Naomi Thomas - Founder of Boss Business Market
I built my first desktop computer when I was 6 years old (assisted by my dad, of course). I never took my hands and eyes off of that computer. I loved everything about technology and wanted to do more. My parents signed me up for a few women in engineering camps throughout middle school, and I spent my high school summers attending Computer Science Institutes at UC Berkeley and UVA. I declared a double major in CS and business management. When I realized that pursuing both subjects would take 6-7 years, I dropped CS because it was so accessible to learn online. I did an 8-week coding boot camp and graduated with a degree in Business Management from UNC Charlotte.
My first internship was in the IT department at a software development company that created tech for truck maintenance. I had no clue what I was getting into – I’m surprised I even passed the interview because I didn’t have answers to any of the questions the team was asking me. I was honest with them and told them I was willing to learn and they hired me. The first day on the job, I was instructed to create cat5 cables, rewire server rooms and set up workstations for new employees. I now manage the tech operations for Boss Business Market. I am also passionate about encouraging minorities to explore careers in non-traditional fields through my advocacy work at The STEM Station.
Being in the workforce for a while now, I’ve come to realize that the most difficult thing about having a STEM career is the constant battle I have with myself. Dealing with imposter syndrome is challenging and there is a constant feeling of too much competition, and the need to stay on top of fast-changing trends. I also struggle with balancing the “never-ending grind” of being an entrepreneur with my personal life. I take my laptop just about everywhere I go, trying to stay consistent with team management and social media marketing. It’s easy for me to get so involved in my career that I fail to separate time dedicated to personal and family time with business.
If it weren't for constant encouragement from my family, and motivation to teach myself industry practices, I wouldn’t have overcome these challenges. Although our society has improved on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, there is more progress to be made. In male-dominated industries like STEM, the woman's voice is often overlooked. The female gender is associated with biased characteristics such as being emotional and weak, but when in leadership positions, seen as bossy. These stereotypes have generally been accepted by the male perspective, deriving from roles associated with traditional households, the typical hierarchy in schools, and perpetuated throughout media. We must bring more female voices to the table and that is something I hope will open doors for women pursuing careers in non-traditional fields.