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Profile: Alisa Dammer, backend developer and data scientist

Transitioning into a tech career? Go to meetups and participate in hackathons

Gabriela Motroc
diversity
© Shutterstock /Lamina2014

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 Alisa Dammer, backend developer and data scientist.

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 Alisa Dammer, backend developer and data scientist.

Alisa Dammer, backend developer and data scientist

My single biggest interest is data analysis. Most of all I am fascinated by neural networks and their usage in different spheres like image recognition, text classification and of course financial markets.

During my first bachelor, I have gained a sufficient theoretical background in mathematics and statistics which allows me to work in scientific contexts without difficulties. During my second bachelor, I have gained a solid set of programming skills.

In my spare time, I continue to learn new things: online courses (from technical courses to neurobiology, cause it’s cool), new languages and tech (blockchain and solidity were my recent adventure). I take part in GameJams quite frequently. I do not forget about the body and soul: sport, meditation and all in all healthy lifestyle is a must.

What got you interested in technology?

I developed a deeper interest in tech, probably, during the first-second year of my second study, when I saw the real use-cases for an intersection of tech and non-tech skill sets.

After getting my first B.Sc. in economics and mathematics I wanted to do something less abstract (math is pretty cool, but still a bit abstract). I started my second B.Sc. in informational systems (economics and informatics) where I have noticed a strong interest in actual programming (game development and data analysis applications were my first experience). As an obstacle, I can call the fact that I never got a programming training prior to my second study and the courses were more for students with at least some background in programming or a good understanding of low-level concepts, additionally the study was in German, which by the time I didn’t understand 100%.

My family thought that I will be more successful in management or some other economical branch. My boyfriend is somewhat my role model if we’re talking about skills and knowledge. They [my family] haven’t seen a strong interest in technology from my side, so I was forced to study economics and mathematics at first. After I got my second degree in Informational System and scored a backend engineering job, no one held me down.

A day in Alisa’s life

I work as a software engineer in a small startup called Joblift. A typical day would start at around 9:15 AM checking Slack channels for any urgent news or bugs. At around 10:15 smaller teams have standups where we report on progress or some issues or whatever makes sense and is within the scope of the project.

Our daily work is a mixture of actual programming and a lot of remote communication with the sales/management department from another city (the whole team is split in two: tech and non-tech team). Lunch at 12:30, then work continues until around 18.00+.

I’m proud of being able to create simple yet powerful tools and programs (EtE of course) that can help my colleagues and our end-users. Basically, I am most proud of my hard skills.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

This is not exactly the case for our tech team (40% of the team consists of women) but I think that women can’t always keep up with the expected dedication to the profession. What I mean is that women tend to have more tasks than just acquiring new hard skills (housekeeping, children, other hobbies, women are more social, etc.) It’s not bad. But the end result is that a person investing more time into something will be better at it. Men have (at least I have the feeling they do, and it is probably very specific for this domain) more freedom with their time.

The number of women in the tech scene has increased. It is also very hard to connect the debates and the statistics directly. Debates are only the first step, what happens afterwards is way more important, we’ll see.

Obstacles

Stereotypes and low expectations (low expectations are bad in this case because a person will be devalued up front and it will be hard to prove the actual skill and knowledge).

Tips & tricks

I can offer a few pieces of advice:

  1. be stubborn
  2. don’t be shy and get to know more folks
  3. go to meetups even if you have no idea what this technology is all about
  4. participate in hackathons
  5. play video games
  6. try not to follow the stereotypes immediately

 

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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