Thieme Shares Her Passion for Technology and for Women in Technology at WCS Banquet
At the Women in Computer Science (WCS) Spring Awards Banquet, the featured speaker was alumna Lynne Thieme (BS Math&CS ’82), whose talk presented an overview of her career history and included a strong message advocating for women in the computer science field.
Thieme is the vice president of engineering at Idealist, a nonprofit technology company that focuses connecting people who want to do good with opportunities for action and collaboration. The mission of Idealist, as given on its website, is to “close the gap between intention and action by connecting people, organizations, ideas, and resources.”
As part of her presentation, Thieme gave an entertaining description of what it was like to be a computer science student during the early 1980s—before the time of laptops, the internet, and the prevalence of computer labs on campus. Students would write their programs onto punch cards, and then have to wait in (often long) lines for a turn at the mainframe to have their programs run. Any errors in a program that required running it again would mean going back to the end of the line for another hours-long wait.
In addition to providing some history to her career, Thieme also encouraged to embrace three key points that she found to be formative in her career: recognize that you can be an agent of change, embrace opportunities as the arise, and recognize that there is strength in numbers for women in technology.
It was in presenting this last key point that Thieme gave a passionate plea to the audience to maintain a focus on promoting women in technology. “I want to recognize that we’re all in this together, and we all need to learn to evangelize and advocate for all women,” she said. “I am passionate about this, and I have found that you have to make a conscious effort to do things like recruiting and to do things like promotions and to do inclusion. Because it doesn’t happen naturally.”
Thieme’s career spans over 30 years of experience in data storage and high-availability software engineering. She worked for such well-known companies as IBM, Oracle, and VMware. At Idealist, Thieme and her team work together to build industry-leading software, and they use that software to enable collaborations among philanthropic communities. Their goal is to make sure that not opportunity is wasted, and that no worthy cause is overlooked.
“It’s fun being in a nonprofit, because we’re focused on the cause, and we’re not revenue driven. I work with a team of people that are passionate and driven,” she said.
In addition to her Illinois CS degree, Thieme has a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Illinois, and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with Cross-Cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate from San Jose State University.