Women in tech—Birmingham’s Ellen Thompson won’t be “counted out”

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Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

Although there are more and more women working in tech every day, it’s still a predominantly male field. Ellen Thompson was the first Birmingham hire for a Prepaid2Cash, a tech startup that received funding from the Alabama Futures Fund.

Read on to find out what it’s like being a female tech professional in Birmingham!

Meet Ellen

Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

Ellen Thompson has lived in Birmingham since 2015, though she’s originally from North Carolina and Mississippi.

She has a background in the tech scene and she’s currently working as the Customer Success Associate at Prepaid2Cash. This Silicon Valley startup is in the middle of a move to Birmingham, and Ellen was their first local hire.

She’s a big fan of working at a startup, and in Birmingham, there’s certainly no shortage. She loves how startups let you learn, grow and discover what you’re interested in. As a startup employee myself, I agree with Ellen.

From BFA to STEM

Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

When you work at a startup, you get to have your hand in a lot of pots. Although Ellen heads up customer success, she juggles a lot of other tasks. Her passion is UI/UX design, which is tech jargon for user interface and user experience design. Basically, how websites and apps work and look.

Since Prepaid2Cash is an app, UI/UX design skills can come in quite handy in any job title. It’s a common assumption that STEM careers and artistic ability rarely overlap—Ellen is a living contradiction of this idea.

She holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts and now uses those skills in technical design, which is an art in and of itself.

Being a Woman in Tech

Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

Ellen claims that she went into tech by accident. Her first job after undergrad provided her with the opportunity to learn and then teach a new software to which her company was transitioning.

Taking on this challenge helped her find a love for tech, and she moved into a full-time software training job shortly after.

However, pursuing a career in a STEM field can, even now, present additional barriers to women.

“In the past, I have been in situations where I’ve felt like I wasn’t taken seriously because of my gender, and I’ve seen other women experience the same thing.

I have been fortunate enough to know many talented women in tech in Birmingham and love seeing the positive, inclusive and supportive culture we are building here.”

Co-founder of Mixtroz Ashlee Ammons poses for a #selfie with coding students from Stream Innovations. This group was hanging out at Sloss Tech—the Southeast’s premier tech conference that happens every year right here in Birmingham. Photo via Facebook

I asked Ellen about women in the Birmingham tech scene, and she reflected that all of the women she’s met are quite encouraging and supportive of one another.

Ellen specifically mentioned Kirsten Winkle, a Birmingham native and Visual Designer and Developer at Keysys. Ellen remarked that when she first became interested in UI/UX work, Kirsten invited Ellen to come and shadow her, as well as assisting Ellen as she furthered her career.

We love seeing women supporting women, especially in Birmingham tech.

The Coolest Way to De-Stress

Ellen’s degree is in Fiber Design, which was fascinating to me. Although she works in STEM now, Ellen still puts her degree to good use. One of the rooms in her home is dedicated to her loom (pictured above).

She weaves, knits, paints and is currently working on an app with her husband who is a developer. Talk about making good use of your free time.

We love seeing women leave their mark on the tech scene in Birmingham. Be sure to let us know who’s out there killing it by tagging us on social @BhamNow.

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  • A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.