‘Not all we are’: Local moms learn tech skills to launch new careers

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s an uphill battle to get more women in tech jobs. There’s already a gender gap, and the pandemic hasn’t made it any easier. Local moms are sharpening computer skills to start better careers for their families.

“I’ve always just taken whatever job is there, and I really want to do something that I am proud to go to work and do,” said Paige Damaskos. She is a mom who wants to own her own coffee shop and salon one day.

She has twin boys and wants to feel confident using technology so she can teach her sons. She’s taking an “Essential Skills” class at the Northeast Community Center with other moms to learn what she needs to set herself up for success to employers — everything from soft skills, to communication and stress management. She’s also getting some hands-on tech training to help her gain more confidence.

“I want to break that stereotype,” she added. “I want to be able to say ‘No, I can do a lot of things on the computer.'”

Jene Ray is the Associate Director of The ZoNE, which is a community organization inside the Northeast Community Center. She’s offering these classes because more people have come to her saying they need some extra help making a resume or maneuvering online job applications. She knows tech is a growing field that pays well and can help women find paths to a longterm careers.

“I.T. is one of those things that’s needed in every single company,” Ray said.

They’re not only learning important career skills but also creating work examples they can take to employers, like a website made from scratch.

“To have that experience and to have that portfolio piece as they go forward, it’s something that they literally have done,” Ray said.

For Damaskos, taking this free class is an investment in herself she can use to let her talents shine.

“We’re all moms, but that’s not all we are, so I’m trying to bring out that other side of me that I know is there,” Damaskos said. “I just need to give it a little nudge.”

She wants more moms to believe they can go into tech careers and do something they’re passionate about.

“Its’ interesting. It’s something that’s possible to learn,” she said. “It’s not all online shopping. There’s a lot more with computers that I know I can do and other women can do, too.”

The Zone has other classes for Northeast moms who want to learn more about careers and are ready to set themselves up for the workforce. They’re still taking registrations for a two-day tech course at the end of October. They’re also hosting an I.T. Career Presentation in November for anyone who wants to get connected with local job openings.

You can learn more and sign up for these opportunities here.