Rosemary Kaskowitz

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How many years have you been in tech?

35

Tell me about your background. What were your early years like?

I grew up in the 60’s when science was both cool and scary. Space was the future, it was inspiring to lay out on a blanket at night in the front yard and look at the stars. (There was a lot less light pollution and you can actually see them). It was remarkable and awesome to see a satellite in its orbit passing and think about what mankind could accomplish. I grew up in St Louis with some time spent away for my Dad’s work.

How were you exposed to tech?

My Dad was an electrical and civil engineer, my Mom a nurse. I enjoy science, nature, the arts as well as many other subjects, but finding out how things work drew me towards engineering at a time when women were just beginning to do it.

What is your current role?

I am currently an Agile Quality Assurance Engineer on an iOS software development team. This is a great role in that on an agile software team everyone is responsible for the whole process and product.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Being part of teams who deliver products that help clients grow and sustain their businesses is a great feeling. I particularly like it when they are local clients, given the decline in St Louis headquartered businesses.

Getting my engineering degree after changing majors a couple of times was a great sense of completion for me.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Tell us about a time that this applied to you.

For a few years I tried a couple of college majors that didn’t seem to be good fits.  I was inspired by Gloria Steinem’s “some of us have become the men we wanted to marry”. I asked my Dad, who hired engineers at his work and was one himself if I was smart enough to become an engineer, and he said yes, but it is hard work, lots of homework that progresses rapidly and builds on previous work and I would probably be the only “girl” in the class and treated differently, and not always kindly by teachers and fellow students.   This wasn’t meant to dissuade, only give a realistic view of what I would be in for so that I knew before making the commitment.  It was hard but I didn’t give up on the commitment.

What are you learning right now?

iOS testing, nuances of xCode, Swift

What was the last fear that you faced? How did you feel after you conquered it?

As an older techie I was fearful when the financial crisis in 2008 caused the company I worked for to go into a meltdown and I lost my job. While interviewing I could tell that age discrimination is a real thing, even if people don’t do it on purpose.  Finding a place to work that values diversity and that can overlook an overly long resume, and adjusting expectations of salary is the way forward, and I feel good about giving up some baggage.

What advice do you wish someone had given to you? What advice would you give to others starting out?

I got a great bit of advice on choosing a college plan. Even if you don’t know what you “want” to do forever just choose a thing that you “will” do, and then stick to it. Think about generally where you will go, but don’t be too rigid in following a plan and enjoy the road you are traveling and the people you meet along the way.

What are your hobbies?

Horseback riding, cooking, gardening, reading, watching movies

What do you like about St. Louis? The midwest? Why do you live here?

St. Louis is where I grew up. I like the history and architecture. The location is central to everything, the cultural and recreational amenities available to all and publicly funded libraries, music, arts, science center, zoo.

Who inspires you?

Gloria Steinem was breakout example of feminism in the 60s.  Lawdan Shojaee and Tania Katan sho started “It was never a dress” movement to include and empower women around the world.  Elon Musk who persists and innovates like crazy and works on solar energy, which is my all time favorite tech.  Neem Serra who has energy and ambition to create our own Stl Tech community.

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