Kristin Wagner Steinmetz

Tell us your story.

My father was a career Army officer. He and my mother raised their three daughters without gender stereotypes and with an expectation that, by 18, we would be truly independent and prepared for our adult lives.

Right after I graduated from high school in California, my family moved to Washington, DC. I knew I’d be expected to put myself through college, but state residency is a tricky thing when you grow up living everywhere but your official “home state.” Because my family no longer lived in California, I couldn’t receive in-state tuition there. Because my family chose to settle on the Virginia side of the DC Metro area, I couldn’t receive in-state tuition there because Virginia is one of the few states which doesn’t extend in-state tuition to military dependents. That left my “home state” of Kansas, a state I hadn’t lived in since I was a baby. So we packed up our house in California and caravanned to DC, my parents dropping me off at K-State in Manhattan, KS. I didn’t know a soul there.

Now this was back in the late 1980s. Long distance phone calls home were insanely expensive and personal computers were novelties. However, before the caravan continued on to DC, my Dad took me to the computer lab and showed me how to contact him via email. The computers at the time were big and clunky. Monitors only displayed text in either green or amber text, and they harnessed less power than most cell phones do today. I was the only non-IT major (and the only female) in the computer lab, but I had a free way to communicate almost instantly with my family back east.

This first interaction with the digital world, roughly 25 years ago, was the seed that grew into a career focused on the way the digital world has transformed business for both customers and organizations.

What advice to you have to share with other women and young girls?

My dad remains one of the biggest feminists I know, and had the beliefs he holds dearly a generation before his time. He always told us, "Girls can do anything boys can do, except grow up to be Daddies." My sisters and I never once considered that being female would limit us, and it hasn't.

The Women in Tech campaign exists to help redefine what women in technology means in the 21st century. Started independently by a group of professional women who, after many impassioned discussions about women in tech knew we wanted to expand this definition beyond 'traditional' technology skills. To us, it includes most every current, emerging or evolving role within an organization. By featuring leaders and emerging leaders across industries who embody this we hope to collectively 'stand up', be proud of our place in the digital world and inspire young women or those new to the 'tech space' to get involved.