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Inclusion Works: Women in Tech - Challenges, Diversity and New Beginnings

Romina G

9 Aug 2022

6 min read

Inclusion Works: Women in Tech - Challenges, Diversity and New Beginnings
  • diversity

How many reasons of why we need Diversity and Inclusion in our workplaces can you think of?

Let us help you with that one.

Having a team of completely diverse individuals, in terms of nationality, age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientations and gender identity helps improve the employee experience, brings diverse viewpoints over the same projects or solutions, and presents new opportunities for the development of the company.

The stats related to the importance and impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace clearly show that when you make offers primarily based on the qualification of the candidate, the benefits conclude in better decision making, equity and equality in terms of access, fair treatment, higher revenue, an increased number of innovations, higher rates of job acceptance and better performance compared to competitor companies in the same industry.

To get more insight into the topic of diversity and inclusion of women in tech, we went straight to the source. We're lucky to be in the position where we have access to reach out and speak to hundreds of women, software development specialists, whom we asked about their pathway in tech, their plans and milestones, the dreams vs the reality of working in IT and an overall picture of their experience.

Below is a selection of responses from three female developers, working in the tech industry for the past few years. Some of them wished to keep their names private due to anonymity concerns.

What originally attracted you to the tech industry?

Mirabela

When I was younger I used to play around with HTML and CSS on blogs. But being a developer always seemed to me like something only geniuses do, or it has to come as a natural talent, something impossible to achieve, unless you are a math genius.

At the university, I tried following different kinds of programming courses. I realized that just like any other skill, programming is something you learn. It's not something that comes necessarily naturally. It's something that can be developed over time. Though I was more interested in the design at first, it turned out I enjoyed having clear tasks and coming up with clear cut solutions.

Thus, software development and tech became an obvious choice. It never really occurred to me that I would end up working in tech as a developer until I did it. So I have been working in tech for about two years now.

Kate

My career choice was essentially arbitrary: I wanted to get a degree with a clear career path and was always good at math and logic puzzles so applied for a computer science degree. At the time, I do remember contemplating accountancy as an alternative, but thought that technology was a rapidly growing industry with good job prospects. One contributing factor was actually the gender gap: I figured universities would be interested in a more equal gender balance, making it easier for me to get onto a good course.

Emma

It may sound funny, but I got into tech by accident. Initially my plan was to go to law school. My family needed money, so I took part time classes in college one semester and got a part-time job, but it fell through. I filled my newfound free time with online classes, and one of those classes was an Introduction to Computer Science. After a few weeks, I was enjoying that class more than the idea of going to law school, so I decided to make a change.

Tell me about your experience beginning your career?

Mirabela

To be honest I thought that the difference would be a lot more noticeable. But as an intern, when I first started at my company, I actually felt a different attitude more from my intern colleagues than from my mentors and managers. From about 10 interns, only two of us were women. But in the end it's all about having a clear goal and shutting down your own insecurities. Sometimes if you're feeling a little bit insecure about your gender and the industry you work in, any little comment, even if it's not necessarily sexist, can sometimes seem like it is. But now, as I'm working, I clearly don’t feel any sort of differences in attitude from my colleagues. That was a pleasant surprise. I know some of my female colleagues that get sexist comments, but I would say it usually is a personal experience and it just depends on people you're working with and their level of understanding and prejudice.

Kate

I got my first programming job while I was still a student and didn't notice being treated differently as the only woman, since I was also the only student. I continued with this team for a while after graduation, still being the only woman for most of that period, which did make me stand out a bit and people would sometimes assume I was from a non-technical department. Management was all male, and I felt very uncomfortable talking feminine medical issues with them.

But later on, I think being female has actually made me more employable as companies are conscious of the need for inclusive hiring, but there are still obstacles on the job. In particular, the "female=junior" mentality has led to me feeling unheard when others make snap judgements based on my appearance. I've also experienced groups of men seeing me as "one of the guys" because I'm a lesbian, when they may treat a straight woman differently.

Emma

It was a little weird. Looking for my first few roles, I ran into two kinds of people - some offered me jobs without even doing an interview and others were dismissive of me just because I'm female. I had one manager that openly told me, at an outing with several members of his team, that when he gets a resume on his desk he asks if the candidate has "the Y chromosome disability", so that job didn't last long.

This doesn't really happen to me anymore, but I'm sure it's still common for fresh graduates from underrepresented backgrounds. There has been a significant focus over the past few years to make the tech world more inclusive to women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. I think that's great!

What was most important to you in terms of company culture?

Mirabela

My company does pride itself in being inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities. During the pandemic and even now they have developed an internal program that specializes in mental health and wellness. And there is a lot of training regarding tolerance and sensitivity regarding diversity issues in the workplace. So I think from that point of view, my company does make an effort to include everyone.

Kate

Every company I've worked for has done their best to make everyone feel included. And now, at the company I am in, the diversity and inclusion is true. They've made it clear that we are all equally valued and have a much higher percentage of women on the team than typically expected. One part of this may be that we work remotely and mostly communicate online, so people don't see gender in the same way. I don't even know what gender, race, or religion some of my colleagues are, so it's not possible to be biased on such grounds.

Emma

With more experience, I've learned to tease out how inclusive an engineering organization is during the hiring process. My last company and my current company do a great job with diversity and inclusion. At my last company, I was one of the engineers interviewing potential new hires. We had specific training to identify and be aware of biases, and the company made a real effort to hire a diverse group of people. I haven't been at my current company long enough yet to be aware of the strategies they've put in place, but I work with a lot of other women and people from different age groups too, so at this point I feel the diversity and inclusion is being valued.

Do you have any advice for young female developers working in / aspiring to get into the tech industry?

Mirabela

I would suggest they focus on their end goal and getting as much knowledge as possible. And even if you have colleagues or people that are making snide comments, which I know it's hard to let go past you, just remember that in the end, your work is your face and your gender, gender identity or sexuality is not relevant to your work. So keep it professionally as much as you can, continue achieving your goals and always keep going!

Kate

Don't be afraid to tell your boss that you're suffering from period pains and need a break, challenge people who use "he" as the default pronoun, or point out "brogrammer" culture in your workplace: any employer worth working for will respect you for these. When you're interviewing for a new job or promotion, ask to see the company's salary band policy: most employers don't deliberately pay women less than men, but salary negotiations can be influenced by social factors so it's essential to know what your pay is and why.

Emma

Figure out exactly what you enjoy working on and stick with it. Women hired into engineering positions, especially at the junior level, are often pushed to do front-end work for some reason. If that's what you love, perfect! If not, communicate regularly with your manager about what kind of experience you're looking for. Be opinionated about this when talking to recruiters as well. You're laying down the foundation for the rest of your career; the better your foundation aligns with your long-term goals the easier your path will be.

We are always delighted to have such open and straightforward chats with women working in the tech industry, sharing their experiences. Thank you for inspiring us to make a change, for being a part of this change, and representing the voices of the women in the tech industry. We strive to bring more awareness and openness on the topic, and with your help, to lead by example.

If you are a woman who has been or is working in the tech industry, and would like to share your experience - we would love to hear from you!

Get in contact via email: community@works-hub.com.

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Romina G

Fond of marketing, new challenges and old school rock hits 🤘

See other articles by Romina

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