Seton Hall University alum Barbara Mucha (’05), has shattered the glass ceiling in her career as a computer scientist.
Reminiscing about her childhood spent playing Nintendo with her older brother as he taught her how to create her own SimCity on their very first computer, she said she felt computer science was her destiny. Growing up in Poland, Mucha was aware of her talents in math at a young age.
She moved to the United States and eventually enrolled at Seton Hall with a focus on becoming a teacher or an accountant.
However, her fate changed after taking a computer programming class.
“Prof. Marco Morazán saw my undeniable talent and encouraged me to continue in computer science,” she said.
It was this same professor who served as Mucha’s most influential mentor throughout her time at SHU.
“My most significant lessons came from the original research done with my advisor, Prof. Marco Morazán,” she said. “I learned from him how to stay committed to a large project, how to deal with failures along the way, and how to think by bringing all my CS education to bear.”
From then on she forged a new career path with a major in computer science.
Starting in automations at the brewing company Anheuser-Busch, Mucha quickly progressed to the frontline as a lead engineer for Goldman Sachs. She later managed customer management relationship software for Starwood hotels.
Mucha has rounded out her array of positions now as the Director of Engineering for the start-up company PlaceIQ, where she equates her role to that of a teacher.
“I spend most of my day consulting other computer scientists,” she said. “We brainstorm about new products and ways to enhance our current offerings. I also review code design (like how teachers review homework) which might sound boring but I actually find it very therapeutic.”
Mucha had little hesitation when deciding to go into a male dominated field.
“I believe anyone can do anything,” she said.
However, her success has not come without opposition.
Being a woman in a predominantly male profession she constantly has “to prove [her] solution to a problem is correct.”
The absence of women in high ranking leadership positions occurs in many industries.
The glass ceiling is “a limit to how far a woman can advance in a career or job tract because she is a woman,” said Dr. Karen Gevirts, co-director of the Women and Gender Studies program.
Gevirts explained that when women work to get to a place that they are not expected to go they experience hostility.
“I think women have a harder time being taken seriously,” said Dr. Angela Weisl, an English professor.
Dr. Cecilia Marzabadi, director of Graduate Studies and professor for the department of chemistry and biochemistry, was the only woman in her department for 14 years.
She said that many women feel isolated in male dominated industries because there is a lack of resources for women. Mucha advised young women following in her footsteps to “not sit quiet; be defiant by continuously asking questions and learning. The satisfaction at the end is very rewarding.”
She does not neglect the sacrifices that may have to be made and said, “Every woman in a successful career may put their life on hold. However, as long as we are happy with the choices it should not matter.”
Payton Seda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org