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Profile: Ana Cidre, developer advocate and engineer at Ultimate Angular

How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Ana Cidre shares her tips & tricks

Gabriela Motroc
diversity
© Shutterstock /Lamina2014

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Last year, we 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 Ana Cidre, developer advocate and engineer at Ultimate Angular.

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 Ana Cidre, developer advocate and engineer at Ultimate Angular.

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Ana Cidre, developer advocate and engineer at Ultimate Angular

Ana Cidre is a developer advocate and engineer at Ultimate Angular. However, she is not your usual software developer, as she has a degree in Fine Arts and a Master in International Business Economics and Management. She has been named Women Techmaker Lead by Google, is the founder of “GalsTech”, a local group for women in tech in Galicia (Spain), and an organizer of the GDG Vigo chapter.

What got you interested in technology?

I remember when I was about five years old, my parents got my sister a computer. Since then, computers have fascinated me, to such an extent that I built my own by the time I was 12 (with the help of my sister) and always helped others “fix” their personal computers and laptops.

However, I never really thought about working in technology as a professional. This, more than likely, had to do with the image society has created of developers and anything tech related.

I don’t have a degree in anything technology related. I actually have a degree in Fine Art and a Master in International Business Economics and Management.

Let’s take a step back and see what happened here.

When I was 14 years old, we moved from London to Spain and settled in a small, rural town named Lalín. As you can imagine, Lalín is radically different from a city like London and it was a challenge to learn about technology there. I was the first in my class to have a computer, and later, a laptop. I was also the only student to hand in work that was done using a computer (although later they would prohibit this) and I was the only one who got a grade of 11/10 in a computer science test.

At first, I couldn’t choose my subjects (except in one case between either religion or ethics) and I felt it was very restrictive. When we got to an age where we finally had a little more freedom of choice, what was being offered in technology and computer science wasn’t really of interest to me. I chose humanities so I could take a course in art history because I also loved art. The freedom to create fascinated me.

Later, I studied Fine Art at the University of Vigo and while I was there, I did an Erasmus in Brussels. During that time in Brussels, I had a strong influence from the European Parliament which led me to do my Master of Business Economics and Management.

During my Master’s degree, I worked for a small startup which got me back into technology. From there on, I decided that programming was what I wanted to do. I taught myself how to code, and with the help of a few amazing mentors, I am where I am today.

Role models

Back when I was a teenager, peer pressure was strong in London. It wasn’t “cool” to do anything technology related but if I had stayed in England, I’m not sure if that would have influenced me enough to take another path. Also, my sister was very discouraging because, just like me, society had heavily influenced her.

My parents, however, were fully supportive of all my choices, I cannot recall a moment where they discouraged me of anything I wanted to study.

I have many role models and it is difficult to point out just one right now, so I’ll limit it to two: Paola Garcia and Tracy Lee. Paola Garcia because she’s an excellent software developer and because she takes her toddler everywhere with her. Every conference she goes to, she takes her daughter and she has inspired me more than once. She shows other women that you can be a developer and a mum at the same time.

There is still a lot of work to do so that women are accepted as professional developers.

Tracy Lee because she’s one of the best Angular developers I know and she’s just awesome. She really does a lot for the Angular community. She forms part of the RxJS core team and she’s a Google Developer Expert.

I work with a framework called Angular and I must say that the Angular community has helped and supported me all the way. I cannot be thankful enough for all their help and encouragement.

However, I have heard from friends that they haven’t been so lucky. I have heard of all sorts of problems they have encountered within the workforce and outside of it. There is still a lot of work to do so that women are accepted as professional developers.

A day in Ana’s life

I recently started working as a developer advocate for Ultimate Angular. It’s a platform with expert-led online Angular training courses. I get to do everything that I love: I get to code, speak at conferences and network with people.

A typical workday starts at 9:00 a.m. just after dropping my daughter off at school (during this time of the year it’s summer camp) and I will either help write content, improve the platform or do any tasks that need to be done until 14:00. About once a month I will go and give a talk at a conference with my very good friend and amazing developer Sherry List.

I met my boss Todd Motto in 2017 at a conference. Since then, we have been in touch and bumped into each other at conferences. When he heard that I was looking for a job he offered me this position and it was an amazing moment for me because I actually learned Angular thanks to his courses!

I am happy with my professional progress but most of all I am happy with my community work. I help a lot with diversity in my local region in Spain (Galicia). I founded a Women in Tech group called GalsTech, which I started because whenever I would attend a tech event here, I would be the only women and I always thought to myself… I cannot be the only woman in the whole of Galicia that works with technology.

Nowadays, when I go to a tech-related event there are at least 10 of us, so I can really see how the community is getting more diverse and welcoming! It’s a beautiful thing to see.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

This is by far the toughest question and if you were to ask every woman in tech this question, you would probably get a different response each time.

In my personal opinion, I think that it has to do with the stereotype of a programmer. Girls see on television, in books, etc. a programmer who is male, sitting in front of a black screen and with no social life. I currently know 0 programmers like that.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?

Well, according to the World Economic Forum it will take 217 years to close the pay gap.

Currently, the numbers of women in tech are decreasing, not increasing. So I do not think that we will see any improvement in the next years, but the amazing thing is that there are many, many groups and initiatives trying to change this. I think it will take a lot of work and time but we will get there.

Women in STEM

Women and men have different views which means that when creating a product, you need to consider these views because your users are going to be men and women (it obviously depends on the product). To be able to gain these insights you need a diverse team.

Socially, there would be amazing products. Economically, there are so many vacant developer jobs that need to be filled, so by filling these, we can boost the economy to its full potential. And finally culturally, men and women in tech would be treated the same and the pay gap would be less.

Women in tech: Obstacles

From real-life scenarios I have heard from friends and women from GalsTech, they are not treated as equals. They are seen as inferior to their male colleagues by their colleagues and bosses. Credibility is an issue too, they have to prove themselves capable whereas men might not. Also, maternity leave (however this is not only an issue in tech) and recruiters asking if the women are planning on having a family whereas men do not get asked these questions because here in Spain paternity leave is almost non-existent.

There are many issues in this scenario and I have only mentioned three… But these three are the ones that are recurring in many conversations.

Tips & tricks

  • Just do it. There are hundreds of women (and men) out there to help. We have a great online Women Techmakers community. It’s a safe place for women who are either beginners, mid-level or seniors. There are thousands of us in the community and we have a Slack channel where we help each other out.
  • Do not be afraid to ask. This is one of the things I love most about the developer community: There is always someone around to answer a question. I suggest that you start using Twitter, you can follow many people in tech and learn every day. Lots of developers also have the direct messages open just so that they can help out when somebody has a question. I am one of those developers so please feel free to reach out to me.
  • Also, we are not a bunch of freaks who sit at their computers all day long, look at black screens and eat crisps. Each one of us is different and although the majority of us do this as a job, it’s a job we absolutely love.

 

Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:

Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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