Why She’s Top 40: She uses her knowledge to encourage women in technical fields to pursue their passions.
Key To Success: “The only way to find out if you’re ready to do something is to just do it.”
When Dana DiTomaso went off to study geography at the University of Western Ontario in 1993, her father built her a computer with a hard drive capable of storing up to 40 megabytes of data. It seemed like more memory than she would ever need.
“Now I could fit that in my smartphone,” she laughs.
Growing up with an engineer father and circuit boards throughout the house obviously inspired DiTomaso’s passion for technology. It was so strong, she abandoned her desire to clean up rivers and natural habitats after finishing a bachelor’s degree in geography and a certificate in ecosystem restoration, opting instead to clean up online marketing techniques.
She worked as a product manager, building software for six years, before becoming a web consultant and, in 2002, creating her own digital marketing company, Liquidesign, originally based out of Hamilton, Ont. In 2010, she moved with her wife-to-be to Edmonton, went to her first networking event two days after arriving, changed the company name to Kick Point and has since been expanding her client base.
But what really drives her is encouraging young women in the tech field to pursue their interests, while challenging gender stereotypes. “Women were instrumental in founding the Internet. But there’s still bias,” says DiTomaso. She adds that women are often their worst critics, and a lack of confidence can stop some from pursuing challenges.
She hasn’t been held back by a lack of confidence, but she admits to having fleeting thoughts of insecurity when asked to host a weekly tech morning radio segment on CBC’s Edmonton AM. “I thought, well, I just do this marketing thing, I don’t know if my knowledge is technical enough,” she says. “Then, I thought: I’ll just go and do it.”
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And that’s exactly what she tells women who aren’t sure they’re ready – they should just try it. DiTomaso encourages women through workshops and seminars, and theInterVivos program, where she mentors a young protg interested in entering a technical field. And she co-organizes Edmonton Girl Geek Dinners, monthly gatherings with speakers on topics ranging from paleontology to nanotechnology.
For DiTomaso, online marketing goes beyond “pay-per-click” or “search engine optimization” or “client engagement.” The only buzzword she’s interested in is “community.”
And, now, the city has a community of women interested in technology and “letting their geek flags fly.”