Women in Tech: “It is a difficult industry, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle”
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 Milecia McGregor, Senior UI Engineer at Mediavine.
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 the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Milecia McGregor, senior software engineer at Flipped Coding.
Today’s woman in tech: Milecia McGregor, Senior UI Engineer at Mediavine
Milecia is a Senior UI Engineer at Mediavine and has a master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. She has published research in machine learning and robotics. She started Flipped Coding to teach people how to code with real-world projects and she publishes articles covering all aspects of software.
What first got you interested in tech?
I actually became interested in tech on accident. I used to work on cars with my grandpa when I was growing up and I thought being a mechanical engineer was like being a fancy mechanic. So I started studying to become a mechanical engineer and found out it had absolutely nothing to do with working on cars. By then I figured out that I was good at it so I just stuck with it! Then I got into robotics and programming and made a career change into tech. I kind of tinkered my way into the tech industry and the path wasn’t clear cut at all.
Tech isn’t even presented as an option to most girls growing up so many of us don’t know that it even exists.
How did you end up in your career path and what obstacles did you have to overcome?
I ended up in my current career path after I switched from mechanical and aerospace engineering. I got to a point in my old career where I had to make some personal choices and it led to my transition to tech. I started teaching myself how to program and then I did some freelance work to gain some experience and then I made the move to my first full time job! The main thing I had to overcome was feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing. It took years for me to overcome this and I’m just now starting to really get past it.
Do you have any role models or supporters?
My family had no idea what I was doing and I’m still not quite sure they do, but they were always behind me every step of the way. Whether it was understanding I had to work super late to learn how to code or just giving me encouragement when things weren’t working out, they were and still are there for me.
Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?
There have been people that have made snide comments or tried to discourage me from moving forward, but no one has ever tried to stop me. Overall, I’ve encountered a lot of people who genuinely want to help others.
There are way more people willing to help you than there are people who are trying to impede you.
A day in Milecia’s life
I actually just started a new job as a Senior UI Engineer at Mediavine! I work in the React ecosystem with my remote team. My typical day is working through my task list, trying not to get lost in debugging, and trying to improve my gif game because my coworkers are impressive.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Last year was my first year really learning about tech conferences and I was able to speak at 6!
It is a difficult industry and there are some crazy expectations, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
I think it’s because we’re usually steered towards other careers. Tech isn’t even presented as an option to most girls growing up so many of us don’t know that it even exists. I know I didn’t.
Could you name a few challenges women in tech face?
A lot of women feel like they aren’t welcome in tech and that they don’t have the same opportunities as men once they are in tech.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
From things as simple as designing a faucet that actually reaches over the edge of a sink to more women being in decision-making positions, having more women in STEM would change a lot of things. There are so many things that are designed with only men in mind, mainly because there aren’t any women in the room. Things would be a lot friendlier to use.
There are so many things that are designed with only men in mind, mainly because there aren’t any women in the room.
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results?
It’s going to take years to see the results from the diversity discussion. The issue is much deeper than diversity and inclusion in tech because the problems start with other parts of society. I’m really glad to see that there has been an increase in awareness about the lack of diversity in tech and it’s a great start. It’s just going to take time for it to become less of a discussion and turn into something that has a real impact.
What advice would you give to women who want a career in tech?
Just do it. You might feel alone, but you aren’t. It is a difficult industry and there are some crazy expectations, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle. If you’re trying to get into tech, start making little creative projects and put them on GitHub. It’ll give you practice with coding and practice using GitHub and maybe the command line. The last two skills are things that no one teaches you, but you’re expected to know. Another thing you should know is that there are way more people willing to help you than there are people who are trying to impede you. You just can’t give up. It can be a bit of a grind, but it’s so worth all of the work!
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- Women in Tech: Emily Jiang – “Your track record of successful delivery is enough to show the truth.”
- Women in Tech: Ina Einemann – “Women and men must be equally represented”
- Women in Tech: Stefanie Langner – “Diversity still has a long way to go”
- Women in Tech: Grace Jansen – “We desperately need people who think differently in this industry”
- Women in Tech: Birgit Krenn – “Stop telling women what they are doing wrong”