Diversity talk: The biggest obstacle we currently face is the idea that equality is here already
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 Erica Tanti, Software Engineer and a speaker at JAX London 2018.
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 Erica Tanti, Software Engineer and a speaker at JAX London 2018.
Erica Tanti will deliver one talk at JAX London 2018, in which she will teach attendees how to improve your speaking skills, how to build up your confidence, how to prepare presentations and more.
Erica Tanti, Software Engineer and a speaker at JAX London 2018
Erica Tanti is a software engineer at a Fintech company in Malta. Additionally, she is a committee member of the Malta Toastmasters Club which has opened doors to a number of other speaking engagements, the highlight last year being representing Malta at the JCI Public Speaking European Committee in Basel, Switzerland.
What got you interested in technology?
When I was a kid I loved playing games on my father’s commodore 64. However for most of my childhood I had always looked at computers as a thing with applications in it I could use. Aged 14 during the summer I decided to pick up my computer studies text book and learn how to code ahead of learning programming at school. I was instantly hooked and told everyone I knew I wanted to be a programmer when I grew up. They told me I might change my mind as I grew older but I haven’t turned back since.
From that moment on I studied for a B.Sc., then a M.Sc. in computer science from the University of Malta. Whilst doing my B.Sc. I got an internship at Ixaris, a Fintech company with offices in Malta. I have been there ever since.
Role models and obstacles
My family was always super supportive and I also had a super supportive Computer Studies teacher at school, Ms. Pam, who put up with my million and one questions and was always there to help. As for role models, I distinctly remember the first time I read an article on Ada Lovelace. I remember being so surprised that the “first computer programmer” was a woman. Before, I had always seen and heard of men pioneering the computing industry. Now that I’ve educated myself a lot more on the history of software development, I realize the irony of that statement but back then I had no idea.
Regarding obstacles, earlier this year I attended and spoke at a career day for young girls which focused on STEM careers. The career day had a panel (which I wasn’t on) where a number of women spoke about their experience being a woman in the STEM industry. I was dismayed to hear the number of stories of difficult situations these women had to encounter because of their gender. I am not one of those stories. I know that I am in a position of great privilege to have had such an easy time in the industry. However it is important for me to tell my story as it happened. I think that if I had been an attendee at that career day I would have felt discouraged rather than filled with enthusiasm. So I hope that my story of “actually not that bad” fills people with hope that a STEM career doesn’t necessarily have to be one filled with a lot of obstacles.
A day in Erica’s life
I’m currently a Software Engineer at Ixaris, a Business to Business payments solutions company, at their offices in Malta. At Ixaris, I work on a variety of technologies and systems, from front end to deep within our transactions engine.
On a typical day, I am building new features with my team, alone or pair programming or working on initiatives like improving performance or code quality. I also organize weekly tech talks giving everyone an opportunity to share new and exciting knowledge.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
This is a really difficult question as a woman who is in tech and has always liked tech and wanted to be part of this world! I think the problem starts with young girls (and their parents, teachers etc.) seeing past the stereotypes and seeing tech as something which could be a good fit for them. I can honestly count the times that people have been negative about my being a software engineer on one hand. Out in the industry, I’ve found a supportive community which believes in my abilities (sometimes more than even I do) and pushes me to grow and be better year on year.
I think the biggest obstacle we currently face is the idea that equality is here already. The fact that we’ve come so far in the past few decades doesn’t negate the fact that equality isn’t here yet. Yes, it might be true that, in Europe at least, girls have an equal opportunity to education and women are treated well in the workforce. However, women are still underrepresented in STEM and leadership positions and we need to actively help change that. This isn’t something which will just magically happen overnight without lifting a finger. I’ve had to explain this more times than I can count.
The benefits of diversity
I believe that STEM in general, and software development in particular, is the future. I believe that because of this it is of vital importance that there is equal representation of women and other marginalized groups in STEM in the same way there should be equal representation of women and marginalized groups in politics. Knowing how to use computers and code already holds a certain power and will continue holding more power in the future. That might seem excessive, and if so I suggest you read the following article as I have very similar thoughts on the subject.
Change is slow. I don’t know when we’ll see results but I know we’re not there yet and the next generation won’t be there either, despite the increased awareness on the importance of STEM. I say this from my experience participating in career days for the 16-18 age groups where we are still far off from an even split.
Tips and tricks
If you’re just starting out: There are many career options in tech so make sure to see what your options are and what sounds interesting for you! If you’re interested in being a software engineer specifically, then start coding – practice is the key.
If you’re in the industry already: My motto is: “Do no harm, but take no shit” – There’s nothing special needed to be a woman in tech and don’t let anyone tell you differently. At times I will suffer from impostor syndrome and I counteract this by pushing myself to try things out and I believe this technique has opened the door to many opportunities.
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”
- Cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity
- Everyday superheroes: “I don’t have a role model, my career was based on my mistakes”
- Diversity talk: For tech, it’s less about a pipeline problem and more of a marketing problem
- Diversity talk: It’s important to receive support from tech communities
- Everyday superheroes: Women just need to see more of us — techie women
- Anyone who wants to learn and grow won’t continue in an industry that tells them they are stupid
- There is too much allowance for tolerating toxic people in tech
- Coding myths and how finding communities like Hear Me Code helps you learn best
- 3 strategies to try out if you want to support women in tech
- Young women carry less career gender bias and more media influence
- Women are often pigeonholed into “soft skill” roles and pushed away from engineering
- Diversity talk: Many women suffer from the impostor syndrome
- How to succeed in tech: Shutterstock’s Rashi Khurana gives her tips
- Diversity talk: Using lingo is making tech sound harder than it really is
- Diversity talk: “We can’t expect men to hand us equality on a silver platter”
- How to succeed in tech: Agnès Crepet gives her tips
- “Many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend”
- “Many companies lack the infrastructure & career growth opportunities to support female employees”
- “Diverse teams can help prevent unhealthy competition that occurs sometimes in male-dominated teams”
- How to succeed in tech: Testlio’s Kristel Kruustük shares her tips
- “As the tech field becomes cloud-based, the flexibility and remote work culture will grow”
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from Atlassian’s Molly Hellerman
- Diversity talk: “Women should not be herded into a career to meet quotas”
- “The tech industry can move even faster by increasing the diversity of talent”
- Diversity talk: Even if your team is not very diverse, what matters is that they value you
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Always be curious
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from GitLab’s Barbie Brewer
- Diversity talk: Tips from Lisk’s Gina Contrino on how to succeed in tech
- “The combination of tech IQ and people EQ can set you apart in the tech world”
- “Mentorship, acceptance, and trust are really important in fostering gender diversity in the workplace”
- The tech industry is not solely responsible for pushing gender diversity
- “There isn’t enough clarity on what it means to work in tech and to be a woman in tech”
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Become comfortable with change
- Diversity in the AI world & how imposter syndrome is vital!
- “Even if women decide to work as developers because they are passionate and qualified, they are sometimes treated like diversity hires”
- “We need fewer WiT luncheons and more women coding & deploying projects side by side with men”
- Diversity talk: How to overcome challenges in the workplace
- “We need to increase the awareness of the benefits and challenges of diversity”