Women in Tech: “The IT sector requires a lot of energy and will”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Three years ago, 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 Nune Darbinyan, technical team lead at VOLO.
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?
Three years ago, 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 Nune Darbinyan, technical team lead at VOLO.
Today’s Woman in Tech: Nune Darbinyan, technical team lead at VOLO
Technical team lead at VOLO, already sharing my professional life with VOLO for almost 10 years. Delivering successful projects, mentoring, and helping teammates’ professional growth, staying together in the worst situations is what matters to me most at work. As a former chess-player, I believe that people who think a few steps ahead always own the current situation.
What first got you interested in tech?
I come from a family of chess players and programmers. During my school years, I always had chess training and tournaments along with my extracurricular programming lessons – one complemented the other. I wrote my first program in C++ at the age of 12. This is when my love and passion towards programming started to grow and eventually didn’t leave room for anything else.
I ended up graduating from the National Polytechnic University of Armenia, where I studied in the Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Informatics.
Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?
I was lucky in that I always felt the support of my family. They were able to convey to me that, in this sector, the sky is the limit when it comes to growing and personal achievements. Since early childhood, my father used to teach us that only hard-work can produce successful results – luck and talent are only a small part of it.
My role models are Elon Musk and Alexis Ohanian. To be honest, right now I can’t recall a woman in tech whom I consider a role model (I guess this already says a lot about the role of women in tech). But I want to be like Elon Musk. Definitely.
Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?
I can’t recall anything like that, or maybe I was too determined to notice. I simply decided to a pursue career in the field I loved, which turned out to be one where women are a minority. The truth is, this made it even more desirable.
A day in Nune’s life
My job as Technical Team Lead in Volo requires not only solid professional competence, but also quite a strong EQ. You are the person who leads the team not only in technical questions, but also in questions of working together efficiently, creating a healthy team atmosphere, and making sure each team member is on the path to personal growth.
I know that many people have to change job places in order to do something new and learn new things, but I was lucky enough to have all that in one company, for which I am very grateful.
A typical day for me is meetings, technical discussions, those inevitable emotional arguments (sometimes with yourself), problem solving, and trying to joke my way out of the most stressful situations.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve chosen a profession with limitless possibilities – you can always keep moving forward if you have the will and the spirit. VOLO is the first and only company I’ve worked in, and my professional growth here has been constant right from the start. I know that many people have to change job places in order to do something new and learn new things, but I was lucky enough to have all that in one company, for which I am very grateful.
The reason is that VOLO is always taking on new challenges and delegating them to the team, so you deal with new things and new problems all the time. I’m proud of being a part of the path that VOLO has taken.
Why aren’t there more women in tech? What’s your take on that?
In my opinion the biggest challenge for a woman to enter the IT sector is mentality. Many people still do not consider this field appropriate for a girl, rather associating it with some super-clever, geeky boys. With glasses. And untamed beards.
The other reason is that studying in a field like this is not easy and requires strong analytical thinking skills, and a strong will, which, historically, was better developed and cultivated in men.
Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?
It is harder to gain respect and authority when you are a woman, which I think applies not only to this field, but everywhere else.
Being a tech lead, I can say that it’s a job that comes with many challenges and difficulties in and of itself. You should excel both technically and soft skills-wise.
For women, achieving technical skills isn’t particularly more difficult than it is for men. Even if we assume that men have more advantages when it comes to analytical thinking, women tend to be more hard working. So, in the end, they are able to achieve the same skill level – it all balances out.
It’s a whole other thing when it comes to soft skills. Managing a team, especially a team mostly made of up grown-up men, needs to be done very carefully. It is harder to gain respect and authority when you are a woman, which I think applies not only to this field, but everywhere else. You just have to stay professional. In cases where we lack the abilities that men have, we use the weapons that only we have, which usually allow us to achieve the same results as men. On the whole, I see no particular difficulties for women tech leads as compared to men.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
Having more women in STEM would, in turn, inspire even more women to follow the example and pursue STEM. Eventually, it will become so normal, that questions like these would be deprecated and unnecessary.
Globally speaking, I don’t think that there will be any breaking changes, though we can’t be sure what women’s imagination is yet to bring to some end-products. I can, however, definitely say that, with more women in STEM, it would be a more empathetic world. While men generally tend to be more stoic and pragmatic, women bring more energy and emotions to this world. We are a great influence on teamwork, which is mostly one of the main requirements for a project’s success anyway. And we bring sweets.
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?
Hopefully not long! My personal opinion is that diversity makes things better because it makes the whole team dynamic more interesting and the work they do more adventurous. For me, that’s what makes people want to go to work every day.
And actually, the results are already noticeable. Whenever we see some amazing ideas or products, there is almost always a team behind it which consists of very different people. Diversity can produce unexpected and out-of-the-box results.
What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?
The IT sector requires a lot of energy and will – it is not a place to kill time and run back home as soon as the workday is over. If you are passionate about your career, then I see no reason big enough to stop you from entering this field.
And for the women who are concerned about maintaining a work/life balance or who are worried about starting families, rest assured – there are a lot of women who combine their families and careers perfectly here.
More Women in Tech:
- Women in Tech: “I got to be a self-taught, self-managed, problem solver”
- Women in Tech: “Don’t let irrational advice keep you from tech!”
- Women in Tech: “Don’t be afraid – bite your way through!”
- Women in Tech: “Women empowering other women is a spectacular thing”
- Women in Tech: “Unconscious bias is a real, continuous problem.”