SALT LAKE CITY—Men currently dominate the rapidly growing field of technology but a local woman is working to change that.
“There are only 10 to 12 percent of women in technology in the United States,” said Tina Van Riper-Krantz a software engineer 3 in the Davis County Information Systems department. “I’m one of only two women here. So many girls see only men in this field so they think they can’t do it. That is totally false.”
Van Riper-Krantz was recently selected by the Women Tech Council for the 2014 Women Tech Awards. The annual award is given to women with ties to Utah who are “changing the face of technology.”
She was honored for her research in developing a computer-aided prototype used by a medical device company to test ostomy catheters.
“It took about one and a half years,” she said. “I did it while I was studying computer science at Weber State. The company had been testing the catheter in pigs or on humans who had volunteered. They asked if I could make the prototype into a 3D model on the computer to simulate the way it worked instead of using it on pigs. They funded the project.”
Her department chair nominated her for the award in the fall of 2014 she said. “I had to interview with three women. I was surprised when they called me up during the awards ceremony. I didn’t expect it at all. When I saw the other recipients I just felt like such a loser and thought, ‘I don’t belong in this group.’ But I guess they saw I had potential.”
The project is on display at the new Women Innovators exhibit that just opened at the Leonardo in Salt Lake.
“It’s on the third floor,” Van Riper-Krantz said. “There are about 160 women highlighted there. It’s meant to target young women who are looking to get into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field.”
This field is not new to her. “I’ve always been into technology,” she said. “When I was little I had a radio or Atari and I would take it apart and see how it worked inside then put it back together again. My father bought our first computer when I was 8 and he said, ‘here you go Tina, learn it.’”
In her position with the county, she’s writing software for several different applications. “I’m creating an app for a central supply store and an interactive map for the recorder’s office. I’m also doing a mobile phone app so if you’re out of the office you can find all the phone numbers of employees in the company.”
She said the work is fun but some of the more complex apps can take up to a year to complete. “I’m on a team with two others,” she said. “We have good people here. Sometimes I think I need to show up the men. You have to be really good at what you do.”
She also mentors high school students through the MentorStudents.org program. “There’s a widget they can click on if they want to talk to a student about the tech field,” she said. “If anybody has questions they can give me a call.”
Although the field seems intimidating, Van Riper-Krantz said it doesn’t need to be. “Before I started college I thought ‘no way I can do that, it’s for smart people,’” she said. “I struggle with math. I saved it to the end (of college). If you’re passionate about something it’s a lot easier to learn and understand it. It’s not how smart you are but how determined you are. Perseverance and determination – that’s all you need.”