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Does your child show interest in STEM? Is s/he naturally inclined in science, technology, engineering and math? Are you looking for ways on how to support your child’s talent and interest? Let’s learn some tips from today’s expert, Niaw de Leon! She is the author of the book, Microcopy (Discover How Tiny Bits of Text Make Tasty Apps and Websites).
Tell us about yourself and what you like to do.
Hello! I’m Niaw deLeon. I make software applications and teach other software developers how to write the right words to make apps that sell.
A lot of apps that are being developed fail miserably at communicating why they’re valuable and how they are to be used. With the skillful use of language, we can make them easier to use and more commercially successful. For example, I’m currently helping an enterprise e-commerce company serving Fortune 500 customers choose the best words to use on their website so they can boost sales and provide a rich digital experience for their clients. I’m also helping a startup build a web application that makes sustainable travel simple.
As you can probably guess from what I’ve told you so far, I’m a huge language nerd. In my spare time, I study linguistics, write puns, and learn East Asian languages. Despite my current focus on language and communication, my formal background is quite technical. I graduated with a B.S. Computer Science from UP Diliman and worked for many years as a programmer. Luckily for me, I’ve found a way to weave both my penchant for solving technical problems and my passion for communication into a fulfilling career and life mission.
How do you know whether a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) career is right for your child?
While I can’t speak as a parent, I can speak from my own experience growing up. At an early age, I displayed an interest in technology by way of my cousin’s computer. I figured out how to code in a pretty early programming language called GW Basic when I was 8 years old. My parents didn’t exactly really steer me in any particular direction, so I suppose just having the freedom to explore my interests and having the room to be curious was a big factor in determining my path.
How can you support your child’s interest in STEM?
I also grew up in a household that greatly valued curiosity and knowledge. We had tons of books at home and had lively intellectual discussions at the dinner table with my dad, a humanities professor, and my mom, who’s a medical doctor and public health advocate. They made sure to nourish my mind with books and science-themed toys as I was growing up. That was great.
Can you tell us more about your advocacy in encouraging young women to pursue a STEM career?
I feel strongly that STEM competency is a way for the Philippines to become competitive on the world stage and provide a better quality of life for a lot of Filipinos. That can’t happen without developing our local talent. However, I believe there’s a lack of support from many sectors of society compared to other professions. The challenge is persuading our nation that STEM careers are something to be emphasized and celebrated for men and women alike. Fortunately, we are seeing an increasing number of groups and events to encourage young women, who, due to many factors, might be discouraged from pursuing STEM careers. I’ve spoken at some of these events, such as GDG’s Women TechMakers, to share my expertise as part of my advocacy.
Congratulations on launching your e-book, Microcopy!
Thank you! I’m truly delighted by the feedback I’ve gotten so far! Business owners, project managers, designers, programmers, and students are looking to create great apps through the skillful use of short texts in their labels. I even got word from a friend in Hong Kong that a fellow conference attendee related how “she’s a fan of the Microcopy author from Manila.”
Hannah Carmela is the author of Bellissimamma. She blogs about beauty, travel, and motherhood. She is a work-at-home mom to Leon and Lucas. She is married to her college sweetheart. Her family is based in Italy.