Cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Daniela Sfregola, Director at Daniela Tech.
Is tech a boys-only club? So it seems. But the light of smart and powerful women is finally shining bright. We root for excellence and justice and, above all, we want meritocracy to win. This is our way of giving women in tech a shout-out.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Women in Tech — The Survey
We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!
Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.
Without further ado, we would like to introduce Daniela Sfregola, Director at Daniela Tech.
Daniela Sfregola, Director at Daniela Tech
In 1993, Daniela’s parents bought their first family computer: it was a huge desktop machine with a massive screen. She remembers her parents struggling to figure out how to turn “this thing” on and miserably fail. Until Daniela tried (she was just a kid at the time) and she succeeded! It was love at first sight.
At the time, the feature that attracted Daniela the most was the endless choices she had: she could play lots of games (not just one) but she could also do lots of other activities, like writing documents, listening to music, do searches as if she was in the library.
“I quickly realized that I had to deal with being the only woman in the room”
After studying literature and ancient languages, I decided that I wanted to embrace a more “practical” field. I loved spending time on our family computer, so I decided that I wanted to know more and learn how to build software by myself. So I took a degree in Computer Science and I started working as a Software Developer right after. I was quite lucky and I did not have lots of obstacles to overcome in my career path. I quickly realized that I had to deal with being the only woman in the room and that I had to use it as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
My family and friends know how stubborn I can be and they have always been extremely supportive of my choices. I do not have a role model, I have many! Just to name a few: Margherita Hack, Alan Turing, Albert Einstein, Michelle Obama. Anyone that has the courage to stand up and try to do change the society in something better, deserves to be considered a role model.
The only person that tried to stop me was myself. It happens to everybody: sometimes you are tired, you just wanna quit, do something different, take some time off to rethink your choices. Thanks to my family and friends support, I always managed to realize that my willingness to quit was just a phase in life.
A day in Daniela’s life
I am the Director of Daniela Tech LTD (BEST NAME EVER – it took me two months to make a decision). In practice, it means that I advise companies on how to build platforms to fulfill their needs. Currently, I am working closely with PayTouch, a small startup based in NYC, that is building a platform for retailers. My workday is divided between coding (lots of coding) and discussing tech strategies with my clients.
Everything I achieved in my career was due to passion and hard working, nothing was given to me for free or for compassion.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
I believe the main challenge is a cultural one. Women do not think that a career in tech can be an option, they have no idea how fun or rewarding this can be. This is not because the society is evil, it is just the way we think, it’s the same reason why I never thought of becoming a football player when I was younger. Luckily, this cultural perception can be changed by showing women that this career path is indeed a valid option, that women do exist in tech and that it can be really fun!
Being the only woman in the room can be a challenge, but it can be overcome to an advantage by speaking up and being completely honest and transparent. Also, at times, office jokes can go a bit over the line and actually become offensive: if something bothers you, you can simply let them know that the behavior is considered offensive…there is a good chance that they will just stop it! Most people are honestly good and just having a laugh, they mean no harm.
Most people mean no harm.
I believe that cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity. Having people with different views on life, rather that having always people with similar background, encourages new ideas and solutions to common problems.
Women in Tech: Where is the discussion headed?
Things are already changing, I see more and more diverse people at meetups, conferences. It is such an exciting moment to be in the industry! Obviously, the road ahead of us is still long, but we are definitively moving in the right direction.
Tips & tricks
- Speak up: if something bothers you, do not be afraid to let them know, but always respect the people around you.
- Also, local meetups are a great way to meet people with similar tech challenges and expand someone’s career opportunities.
- A tech career can be really rewarding and fun, but it can also being quite challenging as new technologies are created every day and things can evolve really quickly. You need to keep studying every day and always be informed about the latest trends in your field to stay competitive on the market: passion is a great help when doing this.
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- “Technology reflects the people who make it”
- “In the right company, working in tech is a great career”
- Why women fall out of the tech pipeline
- Breaking the mold: ‘It’s not that you’re good — it’s that you’re female’
- How to avoid the culture of male programmers
- Creating an equal playing field is about more than just teaching someone coding skills
- The more women you see in STEM, the less intimidating it is for others to join
- The tech industry tends to lose women along the way. Change is underway
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Tips & tricks for women
- Transitioning into a tech career? Silicon Valley culture is one of the biggest initial obstacles
- Abby Kearns: “Diversity ensures continuous innovation”
- “In technology, you become a lifelong learner — More women should embrace this career”