Unstoppable is the Future: Celebrating International Day of the Girl
Henry Oyuela, VP of Engineering
Today is International Day of the Girl, a day which aims to highlight the needs and challenges faced by girls everywhere while promoting the empowerment and fulfillment of girls’ human rights. This year’s theme? “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable”. 🙌
From our female engineers at Solstice to the leaders we look up to who identify as women, we have an incredible amount of inspiration when it comes to unstoppable women making an impact. It’s our focus to ensure equal opportunities for women within technology both as employees of Solstice and within our communities, as we volunteer with partners who champion the same efforts. Today, though, we wanted to flip the script a bit and take time to speak with our VP of Engineering, Henry Oyuela. Not only a Solstie who advocates and empowers the women he works alongside everyday, but Henry is also a father of two girls who he works to equip with knowledge, power, and a space for their voices, empowered by celebrations like today.
As a parent of two girls, what does Day of the Girl mean to you?
As a society, we continue to evolve and have made some good progress on creating equality for women in the workplace. In 2018, 5% of CEO’s are women, 11% of top earners, 21% have board seat holders, 26.5% executive positions, and 36% of manager positions. For us to continue to move in the right direction and increase these percentages we need to continue the conversation and remove some of the unconscious biases that have been created in the past through education and awareness.
As a father of two strong, capable, and intelligent girls, Day of the Girl means an opportunity to take a moment to affirm my own commitment to inspire the next generation of women.
What's it been like to show your daughters what working in tech is like?
Technology has become so ubiquitous from when I was their age. It’s is all around us, everywhere we go. The way we experience technology has evolved just as much: it has become embedded in everything that we do something we often take for granted. I come from a time where the most memory a computer had was 64 KB, which is significantly less than what a photo takes up on a phone today.
In 2019, we have the ability to teach a five year old how to program a computer. By age eight, they are able to write their own mobile application. Kids can do today what we wouldn’t have thought possible when I was growing up. I would describe teaching my daughters about technology as humbling, fun, and inspiring. What we’re teaching them now seems cutting edge, but tomorrow it will be history — a mere fraction of what they’ll be able to do in the future. What we dream of today is what they can make a reality tomorrow.
I would describe teaching my daughters about technology as humbling, fun, and inspiring.
Why is supporting women in technology so important to you?
There are two main reasons why I’m driven to empower women in technology: my past and the future.
Most of my success today can be traced back to the women in my past who have influenced and impacted my life. My life’s biggest lessons began with the resilience of my mother who migrated to the United States in 1974. Even without family and friends in this new country, she was able to build both herself and her family up by creating her own business. She dedicated her life working to ensure that I had opportunities she wasn’t afforded while also instilling in me her resilience. My aunt, who mentored me in college, helped me understand all that women are often juggling as she managed her work, her family, and her night school, eventually becoming a top executive for a multi-national bank. Throughout all of her struggles, her optimism and determination never faltered.
After graduating from college, the tenacity of my mentor at my first engineering job was eye-opening. She was quickly advancing in her career while raising three children on her own and navigating the otherwise 100% male executive leadership team. Her commitment and drive to her work, her family, and the community made a lasting impression on me.
Today my two daughters are the purpose and meaning of my life. I’m always mindful in how I impact their self confidence, awareness, and strength. It is my job to ensure that they believe that they are capable of anything.
So, why is supporting women in technology so important to me?
It is because of a woman that I am here on this earth; it is because of various resilient, strong, capable women that I am who I am today; and it is because of the two young women that I have a purpose in life. I owe much to these women.
As a technologist, I can offer my knowledge and support to help build an environment where women — like those who have influenced me — can thrive. Just as they have guided and supported me, I, too, can help others by advocating for women within my own field.
What is a dream that you have for your daughters and for girls everywhere?
My dream for my daughters — and all our daughters — is for them to live a happy and fulfilled life: to live with kindness, empathy, strength, willingness, and the ability to do whatever they feel passionate without fear of any barriers.