Women are contributing to software development now more than ever, especially in Ukraine. Today it’s a growing profession amongst women. Natalia, a 58 year ‘babushka’ recently surprised the country after she mastered programming on her own, without any prior serious computer experience. She took online lessons in c#, java, PHP, Ruby and Ruby on Rails, and got a full time job as a software developer, after she decided to “try something new in her life.” Not bad for a retiree!
This is just one story amongst many others that is a real testament to the human capacity which challenges all gender stereotypes. The fact that Natalia succeeded so rapidly is also a sign that the Ukrainian IT market is thriving. Even though Ukraine’s gender ratio is skewed to the advantage of male developers like in the rest of the world, it boasts some pretty inspiring statistics when it comes to the share of women among software developers. In the global survey on female developers, Ukraine ranks 18th, with 12.6% of developers being female coders. As a comparison, Canada has 11%, the United Kingdom and Poland 10%, and Hungary and Austria 5%. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest software development city boasts 15% female coders amongst the IT community. In other, non-technical fields of IT, such as management and recruitment, the share of female employees is even higher: about 45% of managers are women, up 6 percentage points from 2011.
What can explain these statistics? Ukrainian women have for a long time been highly advanced in matters of STEM. Kateryna Yushchenko, for example, was one of the leading scientists at the Kyiv Institute of Mathematics of the Ukrainian SSR Academy of Sciences. Yushchenko also participated in the development of the first programmable computer in Europe (MESM) in 1950 as well as producing numerous textbooks and establishing a series of national standards in the country.
Apart from the general welcoming attitude toward women in STEM, the variety of good university courses that result in a job in software development as well as the accessibility to online courses can play an explanatory part in the popularity of coding as a career choice amongst women. Good coders in Ukraine are almost guaranteed a full time position with a very good salary, which allows most young Ukrainians to travel, support dependents and elderly parents and save for a future home.
Being a software developer is a very lucrative career choice.
The fact that online courses are a legitimate way of becoming a successful software engineer serves women who may wish to spend time with their kids at home whilst studying, very well and adds to a flexible lifestyle.
In short, women are doing quite well in the Ukrainian software development industry and in general they receive equal respect and salary as their male colleagues, which is encouraging. All signs point towards continued strong growth in female representation amongst coders in Ukraine. Nonprofit organisations like Women Who Code and IT services companies like Houston strive toward making sure the gap continues shrinking and the value of female developers is appreciated.