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Trusty Trailblazer for Women in STEM

May 15, 2017

Tiffany Trusty

Leading The Way: Tiffany Trusty, who runs her own software consulting business, plays an active role in several outreach programs geared toward bringing more women into high-tech careers.

As the second woman ever to graduate from Rose-Hulman, and with 20 years of experience as a successful software architect, Tiffany (Blandin) Trusty knows first-hand the challenges facing women to feel like they belong in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Along the way she’s trying to change a traditionally male-dominated career field in which women make up only 24 percent of STEM careers, while 48 percent of the U.S. work force are women.

“We get in our own way. It’s a lack of confidence,” Trusty says. “It’s the impostor syndrome. Everyone has that little voice in their head that tells you that you’re a fraud and you’re going to be found out. In a woman’s head, it’s louder. I still have it and I’ve been doing this for 20 years. They shouldn’t pay attention to that voice, and must overcome the ingrained gender bias that people don’t even realize they have.”

Trusty is doing her part, playing an active role in several outreach programs geared toward bringing more women into high-tech careers. She has helped Indianapolis’ Women & Hi Tech further its mission to develop, support and promote women in technology fields; speaks regularly at Passport to Hi Tech, an event encouraging young girls toward STEM careers; and has become a mentor for girls participating in the National Center for Women in Technology’s Aspiration in Computing Awards program.

“Tiffany gets it,” says former Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard. One of several people supporting Trusty and her efforts, he was part of several initiatives to bring STEM careers to Indianapolis and to fill them with women. “She has her fingers in all of this,” he remarks. “People like her are the glue that holds all these efforts together. She understands what is needed because she has the technical competence herself.”

Trusty’s advice to women who love STEM: Put yourself out there, be confident in your abilities, and go after what you want. She took her own advice, earning an associate’s degree at Indiana’s Vincennes University before becoming a member of Rose-Hulman’s inaugural incoming first-year class with female students in 1995. She earned a degree in electrical engineering two years later.

Now, she runs her own software consulting business, Trusty Applications, works as director of apprenticeship at an Indianapolis-area coding academy, and is a wife (to Rose-Hulman grad Micah Trusty) and mother. She also earned a master’s degree in engineering management from Rose-Hulman in 2007. Trusty was presented the Rose-Hulman Alumni Association’s Career Achievement Award this spring for her career achievements and commitment to improving diversity in STEM.

“A woman will look at a job that calls for eight different qualifications. If she has only six, she won’t apply because she assumes she isn’t well-qualified enough,” Trusty says. “A male with only four of those qualifications will apply and say, I only have four of these but I am willing to work hard and learn.

“Again, it’s that confidence factor, and the impostor syndrome comes to life. It’s that way both with job applications and with speaking at conferences.

“Women don’t put themselves out there the way men do. They won’t apply. They just need to go for it.”