A woman who codes

I’ve had the opportunity to work remotely for software development companies in Latin America as well as other countries. However, most of the time I’m the only female member of the team, and in some cases, the entire company.

In my 10 year career, I’ve worked with a maximum of two female developers, at a company where about 30 male developers worked at the time.

At one of the companies for which I worked remotely, a rumor spread throughout the other development teams that there was a female developer working with them and that, “she was very good." When my team told me that story, it sounded like a myth. For them, it was really amazing and actually unusual for them to meet a woman who codes.


We need to have more female developers, so why doesn’t this happen?

There are several stereotypes related to the area of technology:

  • It's a career for men

  • Being a woman will elicit different treatment from male coworkers

  • Female programmers are nerds or unattractive

  • The opinions of women are less likely to be taken into account

  • A woman's salary is lower than that of a man

  • To be a developer you must be extremely intelligent

Let's debunk these one by one.

It's a career for men

Wrong. It’s a career for curious people and tech lovers who like to create and solve problems. It’s a career for people who like to communicate and, above all things, learn and teach. Computer engineering is a career of consistency and perseverance that requires practice until you reach perfection. However, this stereotype is quite strong, promoting a lack of confidence in women because it’s seen as not "normal" to be interested in an area "that is not meant for women."

So which area is meant for women? Ballet, modeling, being a secretary? The same stereotype affects men who are interested in an area that is "not meant for men." In my opinion,  this is a cultural issue and has a lot to do with parenting.There are parents who motivate their daughters to conquer the world, while others tell them to be pretty and settle in order to find a good husband.

Being a woman will elicit different treatment from male coworkers

Throughout my career I have never felt disliked, mistreated or harassed. In fact, it has been the opposite. I’ve always felt that I’ve been treated the same way as my male colleagues, with a lot of respect and open doors. I’ve had the same opportunities, technical interviews and learning processes that a man would have.

Female programmers are nerds or unattractive

There is a widely held stereotype that intelligent women neglect their physical appearance. This is false. The female developers I’ve had the opportunity of working with are beautiful, intelligent entrepreneurs who most definitely care about taking care of themselves. In my opinion, those who are careless with their appearance are a minority and can be either men or women in any field of study.

The opinions of women are less likely to be taken into account

From my point of view, whether you are a man or a woman, your opinion is valued. As a woman you have the same opportunity of a man to voice your opinion and create the necessary arguments for it. It is possible that you will meet someone who is reluctant to accept your opinion, in which case everything depends on how you demonstrate your experience, respect is earned.

A woman’s salary is lower than that of a man

In my experience this is something that has not happened. I have met female developers, team leaders and architects with very competitive salaries, some even better than other men in the company. However, the percentage of female developers earning less than men is quite high, below is an interesting link related to this: http://www.siliconbeat.com/2017/04/05/women-in-tech-offered-lower-salaries-than-men-often-because-they-asked-for-less-report/

To be a developer you must be extremely intelligent

You can make the decision to study any career without being extremely intelligent, it’s a matter of passion, consistency and perseverance. Yes, there is level of complexity to being a software developer. Technology is a very dynamic field and there’s always some cutting edge tech to catch up to, so it’s necessary to constantly study and keep up. However, there are hundreds of tools that can help you study and practice whether you’re  learning a new language or just trying to  improve some techniques. The tools are a click away, you just have to try.


So, how can we motivate women to become interested in tech?

A good idea is to have more programs in schools that create and solve real-life problems with software. Women's groups should be encouraged to participate in a competition to solve a real problem with an application. Once they see it’s not so difficult and that they can contribute something to their community they might change their expectations and realize  they just have to try. Being female doesn’t mean that they are lesser than a male developer.

For women it’s important to understand how programming can reach people, how it can influence their day to day. We should all take part in waking up that curiosity.