With International Women’s day (or month for us!) happening in March, we would love to be able to share stories of women in tech, in the hope that it will inspire young women thinking of starting out, or women who are trying to find their way against the odds.
In this blog, Andrea Moruno, shares her experience of becoming a software engineer, while at the same time sharing her advice on how women can get into tech, and what can be done to raise awareness and encourage women to this industry.
Andrea mentions how growing up in a country that isn’t exclusive was hard, where she experienced sexism in many areas especially university. Nevertheless, we gathered that despite being judged, discriminated against and called names for liking computer science, she carried on doing what she wanted to do. No one could tell her otherwise, and this should be a lesson for many.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in technology, and why?
When I was in high school, I realized I liked computers and I saw my computer science teacher create a software for generating the best 3 averages from the whole school. I was very impressed with the quick results. Usually that task took a week but he showed us how to do it in seconds!
Where and how did you start?
I started computer science in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2000. I registered at the University (San Simon University) to study computer science. It was hard at the beginning because I didn't have a computer in my house. So I coded on paper (it was a bit common between my mates) and I had access to the computer laboratory for doing some practices. After 2 years, I finally got my first computer :)
Any particular highlights of your career?
I started with Object Oriented Programming, but I didn't like it. When I was in 4th semester I passed Functional Programming and I realized it was going to be my passion. From that time until now I enjoy programming in the functional paradigm.
Are there any challenges you have faced being a woman in tech?
I studied and I live in a Latin America country where sexism is still common. When I was in University there were some mates who said that girls are donkeys for liking and doing computer science, but I thought it wasn't true because some of the best professors in my University were women. Also after I graduated, some mates didn't like to be led by me because I was a woman, but I demonstrated to them that I was able to manage the role.
Is there anything women can do to get started, such as courses, conferences to attend etc?
I would say, just start coding. It is currently easier to get access to any video, course or any topic. We just need curiosity, patience, and discipline.
What can be done to raise awareness and encourage women to work in Tech?
This question is hard to answer. Based on my experience, I would say we need to change a few reasons for motivation. Women in general think that engineering or Tech is boring, cold and hard, but if we change reasons and we highlight achievements and impact, probably we are nearer to feelings. For instance, if we think that we are going to create an application which has to work without understanding the impact, it would be boring, but what happens if we say that we are going to create an application which is going to help people, or a company, the impact changes.Even more, what happens if we say that we are going to create an application which is going to save the children. The more we define the goal, the more we impact, and I think those points are directly associated with how we could encourage women to work in Tech.
Last sample I mentioned was an experience I had when me and my team developed an application for an NGO which was involved with children. So when we were developing it we said all the time: "We have to achieve it because we want to save the children". It's basically magic, you are doing magic with your brain and fingers.
Best piece of advice?
I see Tech as the best opportunity for growing personally and economically. Because I live in Latin America I can see all the problems with women and poverty, but even in other countries in Europe or North America, Tech careers are very hiring and pay well. Also I see you just need to invest in a computer and internet which currently are costing lower and lower. If a woman really wants to be independent, gain her own money, achieve her dreams, choose between a partial or full time job, and even a remote job, then a Tech career is definitely a good path.
We’d like to thank Andrea very much for her contribution. We hope that her story will inspire and motivate many women in tech, or women thinking of joining the tech industry.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and to not give up. For 2 years, Andrea coded on a piece of paper as she didn’t have access to a laptop at home. To pursue her dream, she used the access to her local lab.
It’s okay to change your area of expertise and of interest. Andrea started doing something else than what she ended up with!
Don’t listen to what the society thinks, and just pursue your goal - even with discrimination, name-calling etc, come out the other end stronger.
As to raising awareness, we need to motivate women. Women think that engineering or Tech is boring, cold and hard, but if we change reasons and we highlight achievements and impact, it will change their mind!
At UMATR, we encourage diversity in the workplace, and work with tech companies that share the same values as us. We’re happy to say that we’ve placed several female software engineers across many companies, and we continue to do so.
Are you a female engineer looking for a new Scala role, or a tech company looking for talent? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and work with us today. At UMATR, as tech recruiters, we are committed to helping you find your dream role, or finding your ideal talent Because You Matter.