On April 26, 2022, the Built In online community for startups and tech companies introduced the winners of the 2022 Moxie Award. The award recognizes “women rising in their careers who are creating change from the ground floor of tech [and] who have broken barriers to shape a bright future of technical excellence and inclusivity [in] this industry.” Of the nearly 1,000 nominations submitted, 100 women in tech were selected, including Alegria Baquero, who earned her Ph.D. in informatics from UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) in 2014.
Baquero is now a senior software engineer at Zocdoc, a digital healthcare marketplace, and according to her nomination letter, she “rises to meet all challenges [and is] also a superhero outside of work.” The three words used to describe her were passionate, resourceful and courageous.
“I was incredibly honored to receive Built In’s Moxie award, which promotes women in our field and highlights the importance of diversity,” says Baquero. “It is also very humbling as there are so many women in technology doing amazing work.”
At Zocdoc, Baquero is one of the leads of the Women in Tech Employee Resource Group (ERG) and has worked with the recruiting team to help build more diverse teams within technology. “With my Women in Tech ERG co-leads, we have achieved a strong branding by organizing internal events and by promoting our members and strengthening the network among us,” she says. “It has also been fundamental to have leaders and allies supporting us; in my case, my manager has played a role in my success through his encouragement and mentorship. Together, we have made a cultural impact where diversity is top of mind and where women have a stronger presence.”
Outside of work, Baquero is co-chair of Latinas in Computing, an organization that works to inspire and support Latinas at different stages in their careers, both in academia and industry. “We work mainly toward strengthening our Latinas network — also bringing together Latinas from all over the world at our networking event at the Grace Hopper Celebration,” she says, recalling how she attended the Latinas in Computing networking session at GHC 2014 as a UCI student. “Meeting all these Latinas in technology was incredibly impactful, as it gave me the grit and the strength to complete my degree, and I felt a strong sense of belonging in this field, a feeling which carries me forward to this day,” she says. “I want to pay it forward with my work within Latinas in Computing by promoting and supporting my fellow Latinas. We are many and yet not enough.”
Baquero says her ICS education has been instrumental to her career. “The mentorship that I received from my advisor, Professor Richard N. Taylor; from Professor André van der Hoek; and from all my professors has opened many doors and given me a path forward in this industry,” she says. “My peers from UC Irvine have become lifelong friends and continue to be a source of inspiration and support.”
Her advice to UCI students hoping to follow in her footsteps is to never give in to self-doubt. “When you are lacking confidence, when you feel defeated, or when you feel like you don’t belong, that is when you need to keep in mind that nobody defines your future but yourself. Perseverance, hard work and taking advantage of opportunities that come up, no matter how intimidating they might be, are key to making a space for yourself in technology,” she stresses. “And when you get there, don’t forget to uplift other women and to contribute, to any extent that you can, to make your workplace or community more inclusive.”
— Shani Murray