How to succeed in tech: Katerina Skroumpelou gives her tips
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 Katerina Skroumpelou, front-end developer at Upstream.
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 Katerina Skroumpelou, front-end developer at Upstream.
Katerina Skroumpelou, front-end developer at Upstream
Katerina is a front-end developer at Upstream, Greece. In the past, she worked with web maps at the National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos”. In her free time, she is all web, speaking at international conferences, experimenting with the new web and co-organizing the AngularAthens meetup. She likes to mix and match web technologies. Before diving into web development, she studied Architectural Engineering and Spatial Analysis at UCL. She is indigenous to the internet, and she loves web development. So much that she does not understand the distinction between work and life sometimes. Or so her friends say. She lives with her Maine Coon in Athens, Greece.
What got you interested in technology?
I was quite young when I first became interested in technology. I remember my parents bought me toys where you had to connect and create circuits. And in 1997, my father bought me my first computer, running Windows 95. But I was most influenced at school. I went to a private primary school (Hill Memorial School) which used to experiment with new ways and subjects of teaching. So, by 3rd-4th grade, we were experimenting during physics class with electricity and circuits, and by 5th grade, we had a computer class where we were taught Logo (which was a big deal in Greece of 1998).
My dream, since the early years of high school, was to study computers and electronic engineering. Even though I finally chose not to get a degree in electronic engineering, I relied mostly on my devotion to learn to code and heavily to the people who believed in me and supported me during my first attempts at a career in technology and programming.
The greatest challenge was to believe in myself and have a specific and clear goal to keep me going. Once I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve (and that was to become a programmer), there was nothing that could stop me, at least from putting all my efforts into it.
A strong support system
My parents supported me and continue to support me, ceaselessly. Financially, of course, but most of all, psychologically because I have sacrificed many things to be here today. Also, I have met people along the way who have believed in me and given me the chance (and the right position) to prove my capabilities. My role models are my parents, in the sense that, despite the difficulties they have coped with during their life (and the difficulties they still face every day), they manage to be happy and never give up on their dreams.
I was lucky to have positive people as professors, teachers, instructors, co-workers, who would always believe in me and support my efforts. I do not like the “Whiplash” model, where someone has to be put down heavily in order to try and be good at something.
A day in Katerina’s life
I am a front end web developer at Upstream, a mobile commerce company in Athens, Greece. My typical workday begins with a short meeting where the tasks of the week are briefly discussed. I then turn on my computer and I check the news and put some music on (usually a soundtrack, or one song that will play on repeat for the whole day, so that I can phase out and focus on my work). I launch my IDE and Chrome. I go to Jira to check my tasks and I decide which one I will start working on. Then I start working.
If it’s a new thing, I first do a bit of research on MDN Web Docs and forums, and then I get coding. I regularly interact with the UX designer who gives me mockups which I have to turn into pixel-perfect screens, the back end developers with whom I discuss the API and the DevOps. We take a break as a team to eat lunch together by the middle of the day, and in the afternoon we usually do a second small break where we stroll around a bit to clear our heads. After around 8-9 hours, I leave work (usually by public transport) and I go about my after work activities (either workout or preparing a talk for my next conference).
I am most proud of going through the last year, where I overworked myself so much that I almost burnt out.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
That’s an interesting question. I think that women’s history will have to speak for me, this time. My take on that is that women are not brought up with the right role models. And it’s not always their families to blame for that. It rarely is, to be honest. If you take a look at the media, the movies, all mass produced culture and products, at least up until the previous decade, women there played a very specific role. This role tends to be changing as the years go by. And it will be reflected in our field, eventually. It just takes some time!
I am very positive that this change will even out sooner than we think! I believe (and hope) that I am doing my bit, being active as I am, hoping that I will encourage more to come into our field. I and any other woman like me. Because, sometimes, we need to see paradigms to believe and imitate.
I believe that there is a global shift taking place, reflected in art, media, culture and products, where the position and role of women is becoming less and less stereotypical. I want to hope that in the near future we will stop talking about “that’s a man’s job” and “that’s a woman’s job”, therefore refraining from affecting the professional orientation of kids from a much too early age, where role models are set.
I know that there is still discrimination against hiring women in some companies, in some countries or in some positions. So, this is a stand-out obstacle, of course. Other obstacles might be more discreet. Like, being in a team where your voice is not heard because you are a woman. Or being considered less able. Also, working in mostly male environments, us women usually have to put up with sexists jokes, not necessarily addressed to us, but offensive and annoying all the same. Other than that, I cannot think of any tech-specific challenges.
Tips & tricks
It is a great career if you’re into it of course. Because, like all careers, it needs devotion and hard work. Do not be put down by obstacles and failures, just keep going until you achieve your dream.
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”
- Diversity talk: The biggest obstacle we currently face is the idea that equality is here already
- How to succeed in tech: “Go ahead and do it. This is a great option for women”
- “I think the topic of diversity is viewed very narrowly to only mean race or gender”
- Breaking the mold: “Women are not solely responsible for solving the diversity challenge”