“We need to increase the awareness of the benefits and challenges of 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 Ix-chel Ruiz of Canoo Engineering.
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 Ix-chel Ruiz of Canoo Engineering.
Ix-chel Ruiz, Senior Software Developer at Canoo Engineering
What got you interested in technology?
I suppose where usually passions begin, at home. I was inspired by my father an Electronics and Communications Engineer. He could pull apart any device and fix it. I was equally amazed and puzzled by that ability. He was a patient teacher, mentor, and coach. I learned from him to imagine how things work, and how should they work. Later on, while still in High School I was lucky enough to work in one of the most advanced computer laboratories in Latin America as part of a Scholarship program. When I had to decide my profession I was torn between designing motherboards, processors, and IC or working with computers. I ended up doing both!
My first role model was my father, but I was inspired by teachers, some female, that were profoundly dedicated to their vocation.
Inevitable bumps in the road
I faced some bias during college. There were not enough women in the program I choose. Some teachers and students were always skeptical about the ability, intelligence or performance of the few women who venture down this path. I have to say, most of the obstacles in my professional career have been in the recent years, they seem to increase proportionally with roles and responsibilities.
Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?
Sadly I have to say yes. Some colleagues and managers had at times misappropriate ideas and/or achievements. I have witnessed, in more than one occasions, the disqualification of an idea due to the gender or personality of the proponent instead of the experience, knowledge of the author or the ideas’ efficiency and value. Ignoring suggestions or comments happen quite often during meetings.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
One evening during a social event at JavaOne, perhaps three or four years ago I was talking to the organizers of QCon Brazil. One of them mentioned that they were actively looking for female speakers because “we all need role models”. He hated that his female colleagues were disregarded, and he wanted to showcase more success stories. At that point in time, I wasn’t in the spotlight. I was happy working behind the scenes and even though plenty of people in the industry knew me, the fact I’m a software developer was not known. Having the support of people like Andres Almiray and Kirk Pepperdine and their constant encouragement to develop a more public image. They nudge me towards sharing knowledge on a bigger scale, not only at UnConferences but also at international conferences.
In my opinion, the most significant challenges women in tech have to face are “impostor syndrome” and “double bind”.
Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success isdismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
The female gender role is based on the stereotype that women are nice and kind and compassionate,” says social psychologist Alice Eagly. By contrast, she says, “in a leadership role, one is expected to take charge and sometimes at least to demonstrate toughness, make tough decisions, be very assertive in bringing an organization forward, sometimes fire people for cause, etc.”So what’s a woman to do? Be nice and kind and friendly, as our gender stereotypes about women require? Or be tough and decisive, as our stereotypes about leadership demand? To be one is to be seen as nice, but weak. To be the other is to be seen as competent, but unlikable.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
In my most recent talk “One size fits all?! Not really!” I discuss diversity. In the study “The mix that matters” by the Boston Consulting Group and the Technical University of Munich, a positive correlation between gender diversity and innovation revenue, is shown. Ideas may be redundant in homogenous teams regardless of how outstanding their academic background is. Innovation requires an extended pool of skill, knowledge, and experience and that could be easily achieved by creating more diverse teams. There will be challenges, but also space for growth and the benefits exceed the effort.
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?
I believe some results are already here! What we still require, is a critical mass. I also think what we need is to increase the awareness of the benefits and challenges of diversity. On the other hand, understanding our personalities, beliefs, and bias will help us expand our perspective. I also believe that by cherishing the differences and building trust in physiologically safe environments, we will build more successful and balanced lives.
Tips & tricks
Never give up! This industry is fun, full of puzzles, challenges and learning opportunities. We need you!
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