Omoju Miller is a technologist, educator, and an advisor who has over a decade of experience in the technology industry. She is currently an interdisciplinary PhD student in computer science and education at the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to her academic pursuits, Miller is interested in pathways of under-represented minority inclusion in technology.
Miller said that she never noticed she was the only person of color and the only female in her major until her friends brought to her attention senior year. This was a turning point for her. As she began to recognize that this diversity pattern continued beyond her academic career to her professional career, too, the realization inspired her to refocus her career path. She wanted to investigate the root cause of these issues and empower women to harness their diversity to achieve greatness.
“By having such a diverse background, I am able to see things that others might not see and see how certain parts of the product might not speak to certain parts of a population,” she said. Through her work with software products, Miller has learned the importance of establishing a diverse product team, especially during development stages. For example, when Microsoft Kinect was first launched, the software was incompatible with users who had dark skin tones. It was an oversight that Miller attributes to a lack of diversity within Microsoft’s product team.
Beyond learning to value what insight their diversity offers, Miller continues to encourage young women to “think big” when considering their future careers and goals. Upon reflection, she says the things that she considered possible when she was 21 were “minuscule” in the scope of the possibilities that were available to her. “I did not know the power that I had because I grew up in an environment where it wasn’t acceptable for a woman to be strong or to have big dreams. But things are changing.”
Having the courage to think big and capitalize on your diversity comes with a certain amount of risk of failure. However, Miller views failure as an indicator to let you know that you’re in an environment where there is some more work to be done. Have faith in yourself and your skills, and you will find success. As Miller asked, “If not now, then when, and if not you, then who?”
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