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Women in Tech

In June 2012, several global technology companies, including Twitter, GE, and Google, joined a new nonprofit called Girls Who Code. Established with the goal of increasing the number of women pursuing careers in computer technology and engineering, the initiative is thriving, much like the interactive media (formerly multimedia) program at Bradley has for more than a decade.

Officially introduced as a major in 2000, components of the multimedia curriculum were in place for years. In 2009, it was revamped and renamed to better reflect the latest industry trends — interactive media. Today, women account for nearly 30 percent of the program’s majors. 

Susan Monce ’98, convergence lead for digital platforms and production at Cisco, was in on the early stages of the program, technically graduating with a degree in communication. “I was initially focused on a radio/TV major as a way to use my creativity and work with technology and tools,” she noted. “The multimedia program at Bradley was just forming, and I was immediately drawn to the new media which changed the audience experience from that of a viewer to a more interactive experience.”

In her position at Cisco, Susan is working with the user experience, change management, and IT teams to develop a convergence strategy for all the company’s digital platforms.

“I can’t say the gender issue has been a challenge in my career growth,” she reported, adding that she “has been surrounded by a good balance of men and women.”

Susan attributes her skills and success to her time on the Hilltop. “To this day, everything I learned at Bradley helps me,” she said. “While the technology and production classes gave me the tactical skill to launch my career, the communication theory classes set a foundation of knowledge that I leverage today with the convergence of Web, TV, social and mobile technologies.”

Susan has filled several roles at Cisco, including business development manager, video producer, content operations manager and media strategy. She lives in Mountain View, Calif., with her partner, Christian Grossmann ’98, a senior manager in U.S. service provider operations at Cisco.

Diana Hughes ’06 is a senior designer/producer at Psychic Bunny, a production studio for projects ranging from card games and infographics to video games and feature films. Originally a business computer systems major, Diana “missed doing creative work.” When she learned about the multimedia option, she thought it “seemed like a nice mix of tech and art.”

In addition to overseeing her team, Diana also meets with clients, works on game design, and plays the company’s games. “I play a lot to check for bugs, performance issues and fun,” she said. 

At the beginning of her career, Diana found her gender to be a liability. “I was actually told once that my bosses wanted to keep me on a producer track and not let me move into creative work because ‘women make good producers,’” she recalled. However, that stigma does not exist at Psychic Bunny, where her team is 60 percent female (the larger studio is about 30 percent). “I was lucky to find Psychic Bunny,” she noted. “There are seriously talented women here, and I doubt our male co-workers have an ounce of sexism among them.”

Reflecting on her time as a student, Diana remarked, “I had a really diverse course load at Bradley. There wasn’t any part of digital content creation that I hadn’t at least tried by the time I graduated.”

She holds a master’s degree in interactive media from the University of Southern California (USC) and lives in Los Angeles.

Renae Radford ’06, an After Effects compositor at DisneyToon Studios and DreamWorks Animation, entered Bradley intent on learning about digital art creation. “The multimedia major seemed like a great fit for me,” she said. “Because I didn’t know what area I wanted to go into, the program helped by letting me sample several different digital media courses.” Through those experiences, she found her calling — animation.

Since being hired while she was a second-year graduate student, Renae has been involved in the creation of several DreamWorks features and TV specials, including Scared Shrekless and Rise of the Guardians. Most recently, she worked on the end title sequence for DisneyToon’s Planes, a Cars spinoff released last August.

Although Renae noted the animation field is “still very much a boys’ club,” she acknowledged that gender isn’t everything: “I believe that experience, skill, and who you know speak louder in this industry.”

Renae said it was her Bradley education that equipped her with the experience and skill she needed to thrive in her chosen field. “Our digital media projects allowed me to create a solid portfolio for graduate school submissions, and I was able to get into the school of my choice to further specialize in the field of animation — my ultimate career goal,” she explained. Renae also credits an independent study project for teaching her how to collaborate with a team to produce a quality final product.

Renae earned a master’s degree in animation and digital arts from USC and lives in Los Angeles.

— C.M.