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, we have two perspectives - Kseniia’s, as a software engineer, and Ashtynn’s, as a tech recruiter. Both from Crunchbase - a platform for finding business information about private and public companies. Kseniia and Ashtynn discuss how they knew they wanted to pursue their chosen career in tech, and any career highlights and challenges. With experience, Ashtynn and Kseniia share their advice on how women can get into the industry, and what can be done to raise awareness to encourage more women.
How did you know you wanted to pursue your career in tech?
Kseniia, as a software engineer says:
“I always wanted to be an engineer. Maybe, since I was 8 or 9 years old. Even when I didn’t know about software engineering, I was always interested in exact sciences and technologies, I loved to build and design something. When the time came to make a decision about the future, I just felt that my way is the Tech.
I started to learn software engineering at school, when I was 15. But I didn’t think seriously about being a programmer, I was supposed to be an engineer. My mind changed when I was graduating school and was thinking deeply about my future. So, eventually I started learning computer science at University.
In the third grade of University I started my career as Intern java developer.”
On the other hand, Ashtynn on becoming a tech recruiter says:
“I never realized that I could actually work at a tech company. My parents both worked at UPS as a driver and a clerk, so I wasn't as familiar with the corporate world early on. After high school, I went to community college where I didn't know what jobs existed that I would want to aim for or what sort of degree would be best for me, so I studied anything that sounded interesting. After graduating college, tech sort of found me. Many of my friends were recruiters in different industries and seemed to enjoy it so I applied to any recruiting firm I could and ended up at an agency that just so happened to focus on hiring senior software engineers in the Bay Area.
I’ve started working at a recruiting agency where I worked to find Senior Software Engineers jobs at SaaS startups. Funnily enough, I used Crunchbase every day at the time for prospecting potential clients and now work at Crunchbase.”
Any particular highlights in your career?
Kseniia says every product release. “My little personal highlight in my career. But actually, here I would like to highlight one thing: my work at Crunchbase.”
Ashtynn discusseshow she’s most proud of the small things that seemed huge at the time like talking to the first real engineer, her first hire, the first time she risked quitting - with very little saved - in the hopes of something greater. She’s proud of the relationships she has formed and the people she has been fortunate to learn from. Ashtynn says these seemingly small highlights of every day have led her to where she is now and she hopes to continue learning and getting the chance to try new things.
Are there any challenges you have faced being a woman in tech?
As a software engineer, Kseniia says "Unfortunately my answer is “Yes”. I grew up in a patriarchal society, where women are supposed to be a wife, mother, but not a career-oriented person, especially in Tech. Tech - is not for girls, as I heard when I was in school. Some of my teachers told me that I have a “boy’s brain” because I’m good at mathematics sciences.
Luckily my family has never told me something like that and I was equal with my brothers in choice of what I want to learn, and what I want to do.
During building my career I have faced a few sexist comments due to my appearance. I was asked if I could do something, I was asked if I was going to get married and have kids during my first two years in the company.
I always had to prove that I am a professional, software engineer. I believe that in professional life, people are not women or men. They’re specialists, and there is no place for gender stereotypes."
Is there anything a woman can do to get started, such as courses, conferences to attend etc?
Both Kseniia and Ashtynnmention meetups and conferences.Ashtynn says“Women in Tech is a great conference to attend. There are also many groups where women looking for mentorship can turn. I've also found success in simply reaching out to people in fields you admire and asking for advice. In terms of courses, I think it's important to figure out what you actually enjoy doing and learn more in that field. To work in tech does not only mean you need to be a software engineer who codes, although if this is your passion that's great! You can also work in sales, marketing, product, ux, or other disciplines and be extremely impactful.”
Kseniia goes further to discussa few other ways like ensuring you start from basics of Computer science: data types and structures, algorithms, databases, etc. There are a lot of different courses on Coursera, Udemy, etc. Similarly, it’s worth trying bootcamp or software engineering courses (which have a program “from beginning” if it’s necessary).
But most importantly…practice! More practice. Do code, solve problems (leetcode, hackerrank), design databases and systems. Do own pet projects.
What can be done to raise awareness and encourage women to work in Tech?
Between Ashtynn and Kseniia, we have gathered three ways to raise awareness and encourage women to work in tech. Changes in society, organisations supporting women, and changes in the workplace.
Kseniia says “I would say we need to have changes in basics: society. While people believe that Tech is not for women then there will be situations when girls will not want to work in Tech. We have to get rid of stereotypes and let everybody understand: there are no limitations by gender.”
Ashtynn looks at it from a different perspective, yet equally as good and says“ I'm inspired by organizations like Girls Who Code which is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. I think companies see the value women add and the tech industry as a whole needs more women. There are many companies, like Crunchbase, that regularly donate to non-profits that help women enter the tech industry and encourage their employees to volunteer to help break the barriers to entry. I think it's also important for companies to create inclusive cultures where diverse perspectives are valued and women and all minorities feel supported, included, and are able to make an impact.”
Best piece of advice?
Kseniia:“Be confident and don’t allow anything or anybody to confuse you and impact on your plans and dreams. You can do whatever you want.”
Ashtynn: “Follow your instincts and give yourself a chance at doing those things that seem impossible. “
We’d like to say a big thank you to Kseniia and Ashtynn for sharing their experience. We are sure their journey and advice will help many women across the globe who are thinking of starting out, or are trying to find their way against the odds. Likewise, it’s as important for everyone including men to understand the journey, and reflect upon their actions too to prevent discrimination and general comments as seen in Kseniia’s experience.
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.