Marianna Budnikova, Driving STEM at MetaGeek and the Community

Marianna Budnikova is one of our rockstar programmers here at MetaGeek. She works on our  inSSIDer 4 and inSSIDer Office product range, and is not only an awesome asset to us, but to the Boise community and women in tech as a whole.

Marianna at her internship at Google in Mountain View, California.

Marianna at her internship at Google in Mountain View, California.

Marianna understands the real life challenges of being a woman in the technology field. While she made it through the difficulties of dealing with gender differences and stereotypes growing up in Russia, she realized what she missed out on was another woman to look up to. She explains, “having a woman to look up to, so that you’re not alone is very important. I needed it when I was younger and now I want to provide that to others.”

While attending Boise State University for a degree in Computer Science, Marianna goes on to explain that the retention of female students for that major was less than 40 percent. As a result, she founded the Association for Computing Machinery chapter for women (ACM-W). Since the founding of ACM-W in 2012, the retention of BSU female students in computer science has gone up to 100 percent as has now been seen as a great success story in the school.

Many organizations in the tech industry are however not doing much to improve upon gender discrimination. Over the years MetaGeek has taken active steps to close the gender gap, with half of their organization being female. They have women in roles such as Engineering, Marketing, Sales and Accounting.

Marianna continues to be a driving force for this gender gap in the community as she is actively involved in Boise Code Camp, Hackfort, Girls in Tech, and Develop Idaho. She also co-founded and became the president of Girl Develop It, Boise Chapter, which is a national, non-profit organization with a purpose to provide affordable tech classes to women. For more information and upcoming events for the local chapter, visit Girl Develop it, Boise.

Due to Marianna’s success with encouraging and speaking out about women in tech, she has been mentioned and written about in the Idaho Statesman multiple times. One article about Women in Tech and another about Engineering and Computer Science Needn’t be a Boys Club mention Marianna’s efforts in this field. She has also been mentioned in Boise State University’s newspaper, the Arbiter, Treefort, and hosted on Boise State Public Radio. Not too long ago, Marianna even met President Obama while he was on the campus of Boise State University. In Marianna’s homeland of Russia, she says she would have never been able to meet the president, “meeting the president here means I am able to make a difference on a national level”.

Women in tech: Boise immigrant fights the perception that computer science is a man's game. Idaho Statesman, March 4, 2015.

Women in tech: Boise immigrant fights the perception that computer science is a man’s game. Idaho Statesman, March 4, 2015.

Marianna has truly become an influential part of the women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math.) community. When asked what she is working on next, Marianna replies; “I want to help build a community and ecosystem for women in tech. From ACM-W to Girls in Tech to Girl Develop it, there should be continued support and higher leadership for women to stay in tech.”

In the end, Marianna wants women to be seen as “techy”. Even if women aren’t directly in a technology profession, they most likely use it daily. Marianna hopes to encourage women to be excited about technology. Her two pieces of advice to women who want to pursue a career or even an interest in the tech field is “Don’t give up or let anyone stop you from achieving your dreams, and find a sponsor who can help you along the way.”

Marianna hopes that she can begin planning more events and programs to keep the female tech community growing. She hopes to develop more of a leader in herself by serving on boards of directors and more panels. Upcoming events to look out for include a Hackathon for women sometime in September or October, and the Andrus Center Conference on Women and Leadership that Marianna will be a part of. Details on this event can be found here.

More information on the entire team at MetaGeek can be found on our website.