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A male dominated field? One woman’s take

This story is completed in partnership with Temple University’s journalism capstone class Philadelphia Neighborhoods. Students Tracy Galloway and Maria Zankey will cover technology issues through December. Nancy Massey says she’s from “the DOS-based world.”  She says that in the 1980s, when the Disk Operating System was still widely used, working in technology was “so much […]

This story is completed in partnership with Temple University’s journalism capstone class Philadelphia Neighborhoods. Students Tracy Galloway and Maria Zankey will cover technology issues through December.

Nancy Massey says she’s from “the DOS-based world.”  She says that in the 1980s, when the Disk Operating System was still widely used, working in technology was “so much simpler” in comparison to the work she’s used to doing now.

But a little complexity has never stopped her.

“I love a mystery, and I love a challenge,” Massey says. “Even today, [working in technology] is like solving a mystery, a puzzle.”

Massey, who currently works as a Web consultant for her namesake business, MasseyNet.com, has been working for more than 30 years in Philadelphia’s technology industry – a field largely dominated by men.

“I’ve been on my own since I was in my late twenties, and back then, there was a belief that women couldn’t be taken seriously till they’re 30. So, I was 30 for about five years,” Massey says with a laugh.

In a recent post in the Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch, Dow Jones VentureSource reported women only make up 11 percent of tech start-up founders of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing.

Massey isn’t surprised. She says she’s experienced an occasional “pushback” from male colleagues throughout the years, often having her opinion or authority dismissed.

“That happens in technology, but I’d guess that pretty much happens in any field,” Massey says.

Our story continues after a video about Massey…

When Massey first set foot in the industry, she worked as a computer and management consultant to small business and law firms. She then moved on to work with LibertyNet, one of Philadelphia’s first Web servers.

In 2001, she began working as the vice president of technology for the National Constitution Center during its initial planning and construction, managing 16 proprietary databases, designing the server room and organizing miles of cables that were distributed throughout the new building.

Through the years, Massey says one of her most valued accomplishments was becoming a member of the World Wide Web Consortium, blazing the trail to make the Internet accessible for users with disabilities.

“What kept me going is that I could feel that the work I was doing was leaving the world a better place,” Massey says.

She said areas like technology accessibility are full of possibilities for women.

“The idea of being locked away in a room just doesn’t appeal to me. I want to look at technology and say, ‘How can we use this to improve our life, improve the world?” Massey says. “I think that women have skills and abilities to communicate in ways that many men do not and can probably be just as successful if they just look at it differently.”

Currently, Massey serves as president of MasseyNet.com, where she works as a Web consultant specializing in organizations, federal agencies and businesses related to or dealing with disabilities.

“Philadelphia is an amazing place, and I’ve watched Philadelphia put itself on the map,” Massey says. “There are a lot of really talented bright people here, and I think [the city] needs our help and could truly benefit from what the technology field has to offer.”

She says young women who aspire to work in the tech industry should “identify your passion, whatever that subject is, and put yourself in the middle of it.

As for the potential “pushback” from male colleagues, she says women should simply not let it happen.

“You just have to move forward. In technology, we just have got to move even if we’re not quite ready,” Massey says. “Amazing things can happen if you just let them.”

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