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She blinded me with science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Advice & tips for all

JAX Editorial Team
women
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February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Computer science has traditionally been a field dominated by men, however women around the world are making strides to close the gender gap. Let’s look at some of the advice and stories we have heard over the years about how to succeed as a woman in STEM.

Today, February 11, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Let’s celebrate all of the women around the world who are furthering scientific knowledge!

Time and time again, we look at the demographics of women in STEM and the imbalance is obvious. However, the gender gap is slowly beginning to close. In 2017 we surveyed our women readers about their current position, how many women work in their company, and challenges that they faced because of gender discrimination.

Our Women in Tech series highlights just some of the incredible women in the tech and STEM sector. We explore their stories, influences, and advice they have for other women in the field or looking to get into tech.

Let’s take a look at some of the great minds we have met throughout the years and share some of their wisdom.

Words of wisdom

SEE ALSO: Know your history – STEM’s diverse roots

One of the most common pieces of advice that we hear for women is to find good role models and mentors. Latch onto other intelligent and well-rounded women, diversify your outlooks, and help each other!

If more women worked in STEM, there would certainly be more ideas on the table and a different perspective to approach any given problem. There would be more social equality in the society I think. As I mentioned before, breaking that standard responsibility roles for each gender is necessary, and involving more women in tech is one of the ways to bring that change. The economic health of the family would be better. Technology can start addressing social issues specific to women if more women were available to give a helping hand in the industry.

Anjali Doneria, Computer Science grad student

The world as we know it, impacted informed by technology as it is, would be vastly different if they were more women who created that technology. Absolutely. And that also holds true for people from other underrepresented communities, people of color certainly, and LGBTQ folks. For example, I doubt that online forums like YouTube or Twitter would be such rampant tools for harassment and threats if women had formed core parts of the teams that built them. Or people of color, or anyone else from a marginalized group for that matter.

Sara Inés Calderón, Women Who Code Austin

Facing challenges

SEE ALSO: How to succeed in IT: Tips for students & recent graduates

Even the best of the best face some challenges. What about when those challenges are based on gender discrimination?

It is an irony that there are very few women in tech considering the fact that in the early days of computers, building software was often seen as a woman’s job. Heck, the world’s first programmer was a woman. One major problem is the historical narrative that says technology is a man’s job. This idea is prevalent in many parts of the world today. We need to correct this idea to bring more women into tech.

Odion Olumhense, Ellcrys

I remember the first developer conference I attended. It was supposed to be a warm and welcoming open source event. The engineer who came up to introduce himself from one of the most prominent browser company looked me up and down and said with all seriousness: “Do you even belong here?” I want to share this moment because I know that many, many people have experienced this moment.

Sandra Persing, Mozilla

There was one guy I saw a few times at local trade shows who always treated me like I’d never get anywhere in websites because that’s a man’s business and he’ll recommend some books I can read about glass ceilings. He never told me the titles and I never pursued books on the topic.

The last time I saw him, he said his usual crap, and after he was done, I pointed at my trade show wall of logos of some very nationally-famous clients I had picked up since I last saw him. I said, “If I’ll never get anywhere, how did I get these clients?” I never saw him again.

Debbie Levitt, Ptype UX

Take this advice!

SEE ALSO: Women supporting other women: How GirlCrew & Techtonia help diversify STEM

Looking for guidance? Heed these words and shoot for the moon.

My advice for anyone who wants a career in the tech industry is:

Be curious. Stay current, be open to change, explore the new thing.
Share generously. It’s not who knows the most but who shares the most.
Add breadth. Understand adjoining products, business, industries. It all adds relevance.
Have fun. There’s a lot of it to be had!
For women specifically, support each other. Be a mentor or coach for others, get a mentor to help you.

Joanna Hodgson, Red Hat

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.

Erica Tanti, software engineer

My first bit of advice is to do it!!! It’s not easy and one needs to put in a lot of effort. But it’s rewarding. Don’t stop until you find a place that matches best with your real-life needs and aspirations and then put your heart and passion into it, and learn, as that will be the only way to succeed.

My second piece of advice is to surround yourself with good, intelligent people who add value to what you do. Choose people you can trust and welcome their different points of view. Learn from them and let them learn from you.

My third recommendation is don’t be afraid of failure. Embrace it and learn from it.
My final bit of advice is to have fun!

Did I mention “learn”?

María Robledo, Babbel

Who are your women in STEM role models?

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