Growing up in a family of eight siblings, Carrie Taylor saw heroines like Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, and Dana Sculley as her inspiration. “I knew I wanted to kick butt, and I wanted to help people, just like they did. I have always been tender-hearted by nature and wanted to help those in need.” But Taylor knew it was more expected of her to get married and have children than to go to college. “Fighting against that was a hard battle sometimes,” Taylor shared. “Wanting to go to college at all automatically made me a little odd, and then add in the fact I was interested in STEM.”
Taylor worked while attending classes, paid her own tuition and ultimately completed both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Information Technology at Florida Institute of Technology, a tier 1 ranked university for STEM. Today, she is known as the Data Diva to her peers, with over 25 years of experience in all things data, including being a published author in the field. “Data helps me paint a bigger picture of the world by revealing hidden information,” she explained. “I always want to know more and solve the puzzle. I like figuring out what information truly means.”
She has been excited to see a new focus and emphasis on data in the IT community after her decades of focus in the field. “I have often said data is like oil—you have to mine it, refine it, and use it, but then it can drive everything. And now that is coming to fruition.”
Currently, Taylor works at Eli Lilly & Company as an Execution Lead, where she is also involved with the Women in IT employee resource group. She learned about Women & Hi Tech three years ago through her connection to fellow Lilly employee Karen Harris. “We partnered with Women & Hi Tech to help with Passport to Hi Tech and Ignite Your Superpower, but right away I also saw opportunity to build camaraderie and meet amazing people.” Since then, Taylor has jumped at every opportunity to volunteer, whether it’s working the coat check, getting on the phone to organize, handing out tee shirts, or something new and exciting. She was named the 2019 Volunteer of the Year by Women & Hi Tech. However, this is just one of the many organizations Carrie dedicates her time to, with others including Habitat for Humanity, Girls Inc., and the Mozel Sanders Foundation.
Taylor is married and a mother to two sons. “I got married and had kids to enhance my life, but it was important to me that wasn’t the step to complete my life,” she said. It’s also been important to her to raise her sons as feminists. “They have witnessed me being discriminated against for my gender. I use that as a teachable moment to say, ‘You can be better than such a person. Moving forward, you can make a difference by being an advocate.’”
Carrie says the STEM environment has become more inclusive to women, especially in the field of data. “There have been times I was the only woman at a conference, among thousands of people. Or I would see another woman in a room full of people and get excited to speak with someone who understood my challenges. Now I’m thrilled to see there are so many sharp, driven, quality women coming out of cCarrollege. It’s so fulfilling to me to leave the future in their hands and pass along my learnings through mentorship.”
Though she’s only been involved for three years, she has seen Women & Hi Tech make great strides in modeling this attitude and helping drive the change. “The emphasis on inclusion at Women & Hi Tech is now so much bigger. It’s impossible to feel like an outsider for long because at every event there are more new people attending for the first time.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the work of equality in STEM is done. While Carrie hopes that the next few decades would make Women & Hi Tech’s mission obsolete once the landscape of STEM is truly inclusive to all, she knows it’s a long road ahead. “Latina and Black women are behind on the pay scale and behind in opportunity. I hope in coming years more Women & Hi Tech members are rural women and women of color, because those groups face some of the biggest barriers to access in STEM.” She added, “It’s wonderful to have a community to lean on. I have not experienced that until now and it’s nice to be a part of it. I am honored to participate in making that joy available to everyone.”