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Women in tech – ignore stereotypes

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I’m a software developer, I love it, I’m proud of it. I’m a woman.

As you already know there are plenty of stereotypes in our cruel world. One of them is that women shouldn’t code. So if you are a woman who wants to start her career in IT you might be afraid that people will not accept you there. Or maybe you are already working in a place where women in tech are treated unfair, with distance, etc.

Good news! It is not an IT-world attribute, it is just close-minded people that happened to share their thoughts too often. My friends also didn’t believe me when I told them that IT-world stereotypes are simply made up. In fact, there is not a single drop of the truth in them.

If you are curious about how I’ve learned that not every workplace is free of stereotypes, and which aspects are worth focusing on when searching for a job, then keep reading.

First steps as a woman in tech

My first job had found me. I’ve studied Applied Mathematics for a bachelor’s degree and Electronic Data Processing for a master’s degree. It taught me the basics of programming and showed how people process natural language. Thanks to that I’ve landed in the IT startup, where they were using an in-house programming language for Natural Language Processing. It was the best job to start the journey in IT – great coworkers sharing their knowledge all the time, no possibility to use the StackOverflow so I really needed to understand what I was doing, and what turned out to be the greatest value – people. More about it later on.

Finally, the time had come – I decided to move on, find a job in some more mainstream programming language. After some time I got the position. I knew nothing, I was only after one JS course on the Codecademy, but my unique way of thinking made me a valuable asset for the company. I truly appreciate that they had given me the chance to learn and being paid for it. When I had been working there, I finally understood why my friends hadn’t believed me when I was only speaking well of my previous employer.

Adolescence

Shifting from startup to a corporation was a huge change. More people, more opinions, more paperwork, more everything. And also… different recruitment process, which resulted in coworkers that I personally didn’t like. The recruiters in that company were choosing people that were meant to be good at their job and didn’t care too much about their personalities.

Working in that company helped me understand that people are the factor that turns your project, company or workplace into something that can bring joy to your life. When you want to come to work every morning and you feel good there-you feel better. When you go to work because you have to earn money, each day your life becomes more and more miserable.

What exactly made me feel bad in that place? Besides the things that I could get used to, like equipment different than promised, or too many security restrictions in a project: THE PEOPLE. More conceited folks per sqm than I’ve ever seen in my entire life! People weren’t treated equally there. My words were often ignored, less valuable or appreciated-sometimes it was only because I was a junior, and sometimes, sadly, because I’m a woman.

Violent collision with reality

I’d heard plenty of times that as a woman I shouldn’t ask for a raise and shouldn’t earn as much as a man in the same position. One of the explanations was “you can find a husband that will earn more than you so you will have money for your clothes and shoes”, another one: “woman programmer is like a guinea pig-neither a woman nor a programmer”. I needed to prove my value and fight for myself, yet in a previous job there had been no need to do so.

I had a feeling that we, women in tech, were treated differently. I’ve started with the same salary as another Junior Developer, who was a man. I had 1-year experience as a programmer, he hadn’t been working in this position at all. After a 3-month trial, he had been given a raise, at the same time when my trial was ending 2 weeks after his, the manager told me that there was no money for pay increases, but he will ask for one. Try to imagine how bad I felt when my colleague told me that he got a 54% raise and I had only about 10% more money than before.

When I spoke to people partner in our project about how unfairly treated I’ve been feeling every day I was told that we shouldn’t discuss our personal opinions and salaries, because it leads to anger. People, come on! The atmosphere, my coworkers, the process made me change my job again. But this time I knew what I wanted.

Entering adulthood

Having gathered experience from my first and second job I had a strict list of what I want from my next workplace:

  • People – I’m looking for a place where people I’ll meet during the recruitment process will be someone I want to work with, I can learn from and who will reduce my stress level.
  • Office atmosphere – if I feel at least as good as during my first job interview, I should consider this offer even if something else from this list is not included.
  • Trial day or task – my next employer should know how I code.
  • Good opinions about the company.
  • More money.
  • System of sports benefits, eg. Multisport card – if not possible, then at least salary that will cover my fitness club pass.

At this point in my career, people are the most important for me, I want to learn, and to be able to make mistakes which someone will help me understand and fix. I want to feel good at the workplace because it motivates me to grow in every direction of my life. I want people to judge me as a coder by my code and process behind it and not by my gender or years of my experience.

That’s why I’ve chosen Pragmatic Coders, and what is also important, they’ve chosen me as well.
I’ve found a place where I can grow, learn, teach, be myself, feel secure and be treated equally. At PC people support each other at work and they are honest, here you just simply enjoy coming to work.

Note to you

So don’t be afraid and be patient. Your ideal workplace is right there waiting for you. You might find it yourself or, maybe it will find you first. So please don’t give up: learn and grow! No matter who you are, if you want to work with open-minded, helpful, creative, constantly improving themselves professionals, who know what and why they do, maybe you’ll find something for yourself at Pragmatic Coders (see our job offers).

Do not forget, it is not IT-world characteristics to underestimate women, juniors etc. -it’s just some people’s opinions. Remember that you can choose a place like the Pragmatic Coders, where you may forget about the stereotypes.

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