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Women In Tech Spotlight: Maria Thompson, NC Department of IT

Maria Thompson

What was your childhood dream job?

To travel the world

Who and/or what influenced you most in pursuing a career in technology?

IT Leadership within the Marine Corps

What do you feel is the biggest obstacle for women today who are interested in technology as a profession?

Themselves. Sometimes we tend to get in the way of own path to success. We must continue to strive to embrace our successes, find our voice, so we can get that deserved seat at the table.

What advice would you give to companies looking to increase their own percentage of women in technology roles?

Women bring a lot of inherent capabilities that are not generally looked for in current hiring practices. In addition to critical thinking and problem solving, we are generally also great at performing multitasking activities, as well as being detailed oriented. These are sometimes overlooked in preference to years of experience.

If you could describe your greatest professional success/accomplishment in just one sentence, what would you say?

Retiring from the Marine Corps after 20 years, as the first woman Information Assurance/Cybersecurity Chief for the Marine Corps..

What are some things that your company is already doing in order to encourage the continued growth of the female technology workforce? What are some forward-thinking ideas you have yet to put into action?

We need to establish more concerted efforts around internship and apprenticeship programs focused on training, educating and retaining women in IT.

Currently the State is actively participating for the second year in a row, a SANS program for high school girls, (i.e. Girls Go Cyber). The hope is to be able to plant the seeds of interest at an early age and to build that pipeline of the future.

What books are currently on your nightstand/in your Kindle library that you recommend to women as a must-read?

Sadly, currently there are none. However, I would recommend the following book: “The Confidence Code”, and if they have young ladies in their household, "The Confidence Code for Girls" Too often we struggle with the "Imposter Syndrome" which can be overcome with being more self-aware and confident in our abilities.

If you could switch roles with one other woman in technology for a week, who would choose and why?

Jennifer Salke - Amazon Studios. The reason I chose her was largely due to the fact that she is heading up a division of a company known for its global presence and innovation.

Why will the continued support of women in technology prove to be important throughout the next decade?

One word - Mentoring. The younger generation will need to see women in IT roles, so they can see and embrace the possibilities; and have someone who can provide mentoring opportunities. If not, the IT community will continue to be dominated and viewed as a male only discipline.

Tell us about/brag about any accolades, awards, or recognition you or your company has received around the women in technology movement!

Tracy Doaks - Deputy State Chief Information Officer/ Chief Services Officer was named Public Sector CIO of the Year by NC TECH


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