Breaking the wall of stereotypes – about women in IT
We invite you to read an inspirational interview with Wiola Świrska, Edyta Barnaś, Monika Targońska, Aniela Kącka and Agnieszka Znosko-Kupiec – IT experts at Edge One Solutions, in which we raise key issues related to IT careers from a woman’s point of view.
- Are there not enough women in technology and IT sector?
Edyta (RPA Developer): Yes, my current team is a good example. Only 10% of the few dozen people in the team are women. In RPA (Robotic Process Automation) – my area of expertise – I am the only woman.
Monika (Tester): Are there not enough? There are certainly fewer of them…
Agnieszka (Tester): At a glance you can see that there are fewer of them, which is surprising, because the way I see it, in technology and IT there is equally as much room for both men and women to work and thrive.
Aniela (Java Developer): I hear there are female backend programmers… I haven’t met any yet :). Women coding in Java represent a negligible percentage, yet more and more of them are being hired to IT projects in the role of analysts and testers.
- Why is that?
Wiola (Delivery Manager): Some women are afraid. There are certain preconceived ideas in the society that some occupations are reserved for women, while others are only for men. Personally, I do not agree with such a division. If it were the case, I wouldn’t be in IT today. If a person, regardless of gender, feels comfortable with what they are doing, why shouldn’t they?
Monika: Women are concerned that men know their way around technical issues better. I did not have such fears, everything can be learned.
Edyta: We should look for the cause at source. A lower presence of women is visible already at the stage of technical studies. I did not graduate from such a faculty myself. I didn’t even think that I could choose such studies. There was a conviction that they are for men. I see particular value in initiatives such as the Women in Tech conference which tries to change stereotypical thinking of this kind, and where future female students may find out that technical studies are also for them. At the age of 30 it’s harder to change careers to IT, although that’s not impossible. IT is not quantum physics, and gradually you can learn everything. It is our attitude that matters.
- How did your adventure with IT actually start?
Monika: The idea came up already in high school. I was attending a class with an extended curriculum in mathematics. Computers seemed interesting to me, especially creating websites. During my studies I started to learn programming languages seriously and I realized I really liked it. My first professional experience was working in PHP language in a small Lublin company.
Aniela: In high school, I liked math, I went to computer science faculty. There I got to know software programming. After the first semester of Java I started looking for an IT-related job. I applied for the position of a receptionist in an IT company and during the recruitment process, regarding my field of study, I was offered the job of a tester. During the technical interview I pointed out that I would like to become a programmer in the future. A year later I was already a junior developer :). During the past 10 years I was lucky enough to meet a few mentors, both men and women, who showed me what I can achieve in this industry.
Edyta: My work in IT started quite accidentally. My previous work experience was related to finance. At some point in the company where I was working at that time, my tasks had to be improved by automating a part of the work by members of the Continuous Improvement department. I was already well established in finance, it was getting a little boring and I decided to take a closer look at what the CI team was doing. Out of curiosity, as a grassroots initiative, I started to browse and write macros myself in my spare time. After a few months, the company opened an internal recruitment process for the newly formed Robotics team, which was part of the CI department. They needed people like me.
- Did you have any concerns about starting work in this industry?
Wiola: I wasn’t really worried, I was curious about what the work looks like in practice. The studies don’t reflect the actual project work. In the IT environment, however, I met with great acceptance, help and support in gaining knowledge. There were few opinions that since I’m a woman, I won’t know how to do certain things. It didn’t affect me much, I assume that if I want to do something, I will do it.
Agnieszka: I was not sure if I could handle it technologically, but my male colleagues in college had similar concerns as well. Such feelings are normal at the beginning of the road.
Edyta: I had practically no worries about moving away from finance and switching to IT. Maybe I was a little afraid of lacking some technological terminology. I was certainly very excited and couldn’t wait for new challenges to come up. As a result of internal recruitment, the change of career path in my case did not entail reduced earnings. They stayed the same for quite a while, but then they started to grow pretty rapidly.
- Looking back, what does working in IT give you?
Wiola: A lot of opportunities, it’s an interesting industry where you can learn a lot. IT is also an employee market, and this translates into a large number of non-wage benefits, satisfactory salaries, continuous development. Working in IT is ideal for people who like to learn.
Monika: Flexibility, a real possibility to change programming languages, technologies, projects, roles in a team, especially in an outsourcing company. It is hard to get bored with your work. Another advantage is the financial side of it – IT is one of the best paid industries.
Agnieszka: Working in IT gives me great satisfaction, I can create a product that works, functions and is used by others. Flexible working hours and the possibility to work remotely make everyday life much easier. Especially important for me is also the opportunity to work in a team.
Aniela: On the one hand, a feeling of internal satisfaction that I’ve managed to go down the path that many people think is only for men, on the other hand, it is of course the financial benefit, flexibility, constant learning of new things, trainings, a relaxed working atmosphere. I also appreciate the industry’s characteristic openness to learning and making mistakes. Error is a way of learning, it is inscribed in the process of software development.
- Do you think gender plays a role in the IT industry?
Wiola: When performing tasks, gender does not matter. Knowledge is what counts. Knowledge is the key. The most important thing is how you execute your tasks, not who executes them.
Monika: What is key are the qualifications, teamwork, and information acquisition skills – and these are gender-independent competences.
Agnieszka: People differ along gender lines, but we are not the same within the one gender either. The IT industry needs employees with different predispositions and preferences, it offers jobs in different capacities: analytical, testing, programming, project management.
Aniela: Little differences help to build better teams.
- Would you recommend IT jobs to other women?
Wioleta: Absolutely. 😊
Monika: I would recommend it to anyone ready to update their knowledge on regular basis.
Edyta: Yes, I’m quite jealous of the girls who are currently facing the choice of a faculty. The sooner your adventure with IT starts, the better. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t remodel you career path later. Sometimes we are afraid of something unknown, but it’s like learning a foreign language. At first we don’t understand anything, but as time goes by everything seems to become clearer.
Aniela: In the case of programming, to see whether it will actually be interesting for you, all you need to do is have a look at any free of charge tutorial widely available on the web, which will familiarize you with the specifics of the job.
HR MANAGER, EDGE ONE SOLUTIONS