InterviewIT Industry

Women in Technology: An honest interview with the ladies at Houston

How do women in tech really feel?

As part of our article ‘Women in Software Development in Ukraine’ I sat down with Marina and Kate over a delicious Ukrainian lunch during my recent visit and asked a few honest questions. 

Marina is a .NET, C# and Angular developer at Houston and serves a client in Australia, building software for various Australian businesses. Kate runs the technical customer support for a London based payments company.

Carmen: Marina, how old are you and when and where did you learn to code?

Marina: I am 21 now and I studied computer science here in Kharkiv when I finished school at 18.  

Carmen: Why did you choose software development as a career? 

Marina: My mum wanted me to become an economist, but I didn’t want to, it sounded boring to me, so I tried to find anything else to study. One day, a university representative came to my high school to show us how they teach students programming languages to build robots and AI. I thought it was very interesting.

I saved their contacts, and I went to their open door day, where I really liked the robots I saw (laughs). The robots essentially convinced me to enrol for computer science.

During my studies I realised how much I enjoyed IT and programming in general and that I loved doing research and business analyses. So whilst I was still studying, I went on to find full time employment as a programmer. 

Carmen: Kate, you’ve been running customer support at a FinTech for 18 months now. How long have you been in customer support in general?

Kate: For 6 years now.

Carmen: Why did you choose to do customer support for tech products rather than let’s say customer support for online retail?

Kate: To be honest, I just fell into it. I was at Uni for economics, and I didn’t enjoy it very much, it was actually my parents’ decision – similar to Marina’s experience (laughs). After I graduated, I told my parents there would not be one day where I’d work as an economist. So I didn’t know what to do, I needed a job. I’ve always loved speaking English and was really good at it. So I went online and looked for jobs that needed English speakers, and I had a job 2 days later in customer support for a big IT company.

As I had hoped, I really liked the IT guys, because they are logical, and I can understand them, I myself am a very logical and organised person. Now I am of those ‘guys’ and I am happy about it.

Carmen: What do you both think women bring to the IT scene?

Kate: Gender equality 😉 I think women are very reliable. Let’s look at history, for centuries women have been the ones keeping the house and children in order, a task that demands reliability without fail.

Marina: I think most women are very detailed. Guys often focus on the task itself and don’t ask many questions they want to show that they can do it. Whereas women want to really understand the details before executing, they are not afraid of asking questions.

Kate: I also believe women are great at thinking ahead. Women think about the effect of a completed task, how will it impact this and that in the future. Also, women are naturally great managers. Int Ukraine this is really evident because 50% of most managerial positions in IT are occupied by women. I think, if we go back to the traditional family setting again, women had to think about ‘everything’ at all times: what does the husband need to wear for his job and how does that impact my washing and ironing? What about the kids, what will they eat, when will they need to go to school, are they learning and growing? Women have always managed: time, people and outcomes. 

Carmen: At Houston, the majority of our coders are male. Honest question: how do you find it working amongst men?

Marina: I don’t see developers being divided into men and women, we are all just developers. I like working with my male colleagues at Houston. They are calm and very respectful. 

Kate: I don’t differentiate by gender, if you’re a good person, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.  

Carmen: What are your goals for your career in the next 5 years?

Kate: On the one hand I’d like to be a manager of a team, because it inspires me to help other people grow and I believe I am good at it. But now that I am working with this complex payments software, I am wondering if I should learn more coding, so I can understand my tech team even more. If I would succeed in programming, I would want to create my own App, something in regards to productivity and time management. 

Marina: I don’t want to build robots anymore (laughs). Besides being a great developer, I want to be a speaker at IT conferences, because I’ve noticed that most speakers at conferences in Ukraine are male and I’ve been wondering why women can’t also be on stage sharing their knowledge?  

Carmen: It is clear that the demand of Ukrainian software developers is getting higher and higher and Ukraine needs to produce more programmers to service the demand. How do you think we can attract more women to IT in Ukraine?

Marina: I believe the best way is to openly share our own experience with other women. How we feel in IT and what’s great about it, it will inspire others. For a long time women were told IT is ‘too complicated for girls’, but they are old stereotypes.

If we share from our personal journey we can give other women understanding that this career path is not only for men. Let’s tell society that women can do this.

Kate: I heard about a project at a coding school where they only teach women. It is a safe environment for women where no one tells them they can’t, but where they’re told that they can. IT courses at uni are still full of men and it can easily be overwhelming or intimidating for women. Maybe more companies could also make a point of hiring only female trainees and investing in training and teaching them for the future.

Carmen: Any last remarks?

Marina: We must not to be afraid of trying.

Kate: I would actually say let’s not just try, but let’s do it. Because we can. I wish every woman to find her personal journey in this world and believe that the path ahead is for her.

Carmen: Thanks ladies, this was a very insightful interview, you’ve been very generous. I am proud that Houston is an employer that is passionate about bringing more women into IT and I believe we have a bright future ahead.

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