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Profile: Emily Jiang, Java Champion and Senior MicroProfile lead

Women in Tech: “Your track record of successful delivery is enough to show the truth.”

Madeleine Domogalla
women in tech

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Two 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 Emily Jiang, Java Champion and Senior MicroProfile lead.

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?

Two 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 Emily Jiang, Java Champion and Senior MicroProfile lead.

Today’s woman in tech: Emily Jiang, Java Champion and Senior MicroProfile lead

Emily Jiang is a Java Champion. She is Senior MicroProfile lead and has been working on MicroProfile since 2016 and leads the specifications of MicroProfile Config, Fault Tolerance and Service

women in tech

Mesh. She is Config JSR co-spec lead and CDI Expert Group member.

She works for IBM as Liberty Architect for MicroProfile and CDI. Based at IBM’s Hursley laboratory in the UK, she has worked on the WebSphere Application Server since 2006 and is heavily involved in Java EE implementation in Liberty releases.

She regularly speaks at conferences, such as Code One, DevNexus, JAX London, Voxxed, Devoxx US, Devoxx Belgium, Devoxx UK, Devoxx France, EclipseCon, etc. Follow her on Twitter @emilyfhjiang.

What got you interested in technology?

I was interested in technology since I was at Junior school. I did very well academically especially in Math, and I was confident in technology. From an early age, I was fascinated by computers, so I chose Computer Science to study at University. I have been focusing on Computing since, and I am still enjoying it.

How did you end up in your career path? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

After I graduated from the University of Shanghai Finance and Economics in China, I got a job as a lecturer in another University, where I taught computing and programming languages, such as C, Visual Basic, Pascal, etc. After a couple of years of teaching, I decided to go abroad to further my studies. I came to the UK in 2000 and studied at Reading University, where I learned Java, Object-Oriented concepts, virtual reality, etc. I found Java to be the most powerful and simplest language. When I joined IBM in 2006, I had been working with Java daily. I am so pleased that I was nominated as a Java Champion in 2009.

As for my career path, I was so happy to learn at IBM I can go quite far in the technical career path without being a manager. Due to my significant technical contributions towards the projects I have been working on, I was put on a special Advanced Technical Eminence programme, which I was assigned two high achievers for my mentors to help me along the journey. Last year I was promoted to Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM), which is a significant technical title. I am quite pleased with the appointment.

As for obstacles I have to overcome, I think a lot of women face something similar: some biased opinions such as women are not techy, women cannot code as well as men do, etc. Don’t let this discourage you and your career progression. You don’t need to explain it over and over again. Your track record of successful delivery is enough to show the truth.

The message I want to pass to my readers: Don’t let the obstacles stop you, make it an opportunity/energy for advancing yourself.

Did you receive support from family and friends? Do you have a role model?

Yes, my family support me tremendously. I am a frequent conference speaker, so I travel a fair amount. My husband was always willing to take over the childcare so that I can travel to different conferences. My children were pretty much understanding. One day I asked my 13-year-old daughter, Emma, whether she would like a stay-at-home mum. Emma said she is happy with a successful and happy mum, which gives her courage and inspiration to go far. Both my daughter Emma and my son Adam love technology and they would like to follow my career path. I started taking them to kids’ conference sessions. I plan to enroll them in Devoxx UK for 4kids.

As for a role model, I have quite a few role models and I chat with them from time to time. In IBM, I have very supportive managers, a few of them are female. I am so lucky to be surrounded by upper-level supportive female managers.

The message I want to pass to my readers: Don’t let the obstacles stop you, make it an opportunity/energy for advancing yourself.

Did anyone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?

I won’t allow others to stop me. Set a clear goal yourself and work out a plan. Don’t be discouraged! Always believe in yourself.

I want to say no one can stop you except yourself. There is no gender difference when it comes to technology. Women can achieve as much as men do. Don’t let other people stop you from learning and advancing your professional career.

A day in Emily’s life

I am a Liberty Microservice Architect and Developer Advocate. I am also a Java Champion. I work for IBM. My main focus is on MicroProfile and Open Liberty. Both of them are Open Source projects. MicroProfile is to evolve the best programming model for developing microservices. Open Liberty is an open source lightweight application server, which supports both MicroProfile and Jakarta EE technology. Open Liberty is very fast and can start up at around 1 second. I strongly advise you to go to https://openliberty.io to learn more.

My typical workday is to work on issues and come up with solutions with the community in MicroProfile specifications. I also design the implementation and ensure Open Liberty is easy to use and have a great user experience. I am a frequent international conference speaker, so each month I might travel to various conferences. As a consequence, I spent some considerable time preparing talks and writing blogs about the technology I am passionate about and engaged in.

Check out a couple of them below:

What are you most proud of in your career?

Last year I was awarded as a Java Champion in Oracle Java Community and I was also appointed as Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM) in IBM. Both of the achievements are very significant, and I am so pleased with the acknowledgment of my contributions.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

Girls were thought to be less techy from a young age. They are classified as not as good as boys. This biased conception discourages girls from choosing technology-related subjects, etc.

What challenges do women in tech face?

At a young age, girls are given less techy toys. At schools, girls are branded as less techy. When they go to University, they are expected of less. At work, again, they are a minority and it is difficult to make a real impact. As time goes by, women enter management careers.

The other obstacle is that women have maternity break and child care responsibilities. Some women invited themselves out of the tech table and would rather downgrade to do something less challenging. The other thing is that there are fewer supportive programmes such as back to work programmes after maternity leave. Maybe their hard-earned position has been handed over to someone else.

Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?

The world will be different if more women work in STEM. Society will be more balanced and the workforce will be more efficient.

There is no gender difference when it comes to technology.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?

More and more companies realised the diversity issue. It is a real problem with the severely unbalanced workforce in IT. Fewer and fewer women came to IT. More and more women leave IT due to limited career progression.

Talking about it helps but it won’t change much unless a practical programme is in place. For instance, female IT professions might be able to establish a supportive network so that they can help each other. In companies, some special programme should be in place to help their technical career.

Any advice for women who want a tech career?

Don’t let other people limit you. Believe in yourself. You can be as good as men. Women can achieve as much as men technically. Build a supportive network with your female colleagues. Find a female role model and ask her to be your mentor.

Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:

For even more Women in Tech, click here.

Author
Madeleine Domogalla

Madeleine Domogalla

All Posts by Madeleine Domogalla

Madeleine Domogalla has been an editor at S&S-Media since 2018. Previously she studied German Language and Literature at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.

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