“I think women in tech should try to step out of their comfort zone more, speak up more without having imposter syndrome.”
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 Swarali Karkhani, a software engineer intern at Exoscale.
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?
Two years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in tech to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Swarali Karkhani, a software engineer intern at Exoscale.
Swarali Karkhani, software engineer intern at Exoscale
What got you interested in tech?
It was through a workshop in school when I first played around with Alice. Alice is a programmable platform for kids for storytelling. We would have computer lessons in school but nothing quite captured my intrigue as being able to see logical implementation of your idea turn into a tangible form.
A day in Swarali’s life
I’m currently a software engineering intern at Exoscale. I’m working on developing an orchestration service for managing Kubernetes cluster. Typically my workday starts with a one-liner status update on IRC, then depending upon the stage of the task at hand. It could either be a meeting to discuss the task detail, or coding (according to the details discussed), or reviewing other team-mates work. We have weekly reviews to us up-to-date about each other’s work. All my team-mates work mostly remotely, so we really emphasize on communicating well and not waste too much time in meetings.
A strong support system
I have always received tremendous support from my family and friends. My parents especially made sure I was never held back in any way. They are both definitely my role-models.
Any obstacles along the way?
No one openly tried to stop me from learning and advancing my professional life. But I’ve had instances of people (some of them even teachers) discouraging me from pursuing higher education while encouraging my male peers.
Being in the minority can cause you to feel isolated sometimes which can lead to some spaces, both physical and online, being not very welcoming to women. Not consciously, but online communities sometimes might not take you as seriously if you’re a woman. This could be detrimental for your career, especially in a field like technology where the internet is an influential tool.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
I think there is still a bit of unconscious bias among people, even women themselves against women’s aptitude in the STEM fields.
This prevents more women from entering the field and thus feeding into the bias itself.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I’m most proud of two things in my career:
1. Designing and delivering a major feature that improved the run-time and efficiency of cluster health monitoring during my last job.
2. Deciding to take a leap in my career by leaving my current job and enrolling into a masters program.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
I think a diversified field can bring light to different problems, different outlooks, and ultimately different solutions. And that is the end-goal of technology after all, isn’t it?
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?
Although not fast enough, I think we’re already seeing some positive effects in the industry.
Every time a minority joins the workforce, it paves a path for more minorities to join in. I hope to see diversity gain traction in the coming decade.
Tips & tricks
I think women in tech should try to step out of their comfort zone more, speak up more without having imposter syndrome. Once they get in the field, they will realize that it’s not just them, everyone is trying to figure it out.
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
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- 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
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