Forte Group women answer, "What is it like to be a woman in tech?"
Forte Group currently employs 142 women in different positions and at different levels around the world. Some of them help to perfect our code, some contribute to security, some improve our internal processes, and some are responsible for relationships with our clients. Each Forte woman has her own approach to her tasks and her own work style, but what they all have in common are their talent and dedication. Every day, they contribute to the technological advancement of the modern world.
On the eve of International Women’s Day and to celebrate Women’s History Month, we interviewed eight women from Forte Group about their careers in IT, the challenges they face, and — of course — how they view their work at Forte. Read on for a series of honest reflections on what it’s like to be a woman in tech.
Lilya Volgina, Security Director
What do you like about working in IT?
I can clearly remember the moment I realized that the IT sector was not the center of the universe and that it doesn’t exist on its own. Its purpose is to solve business problems and automate processes. This intersection is what I liked. For me, IT is an extensive field of activity and it offers a wide variety of opportunities for growth.
Have you ever encountered any gender stereotypes in IT?
Not really. And if I ever did, I’m sure it was a good motivator to do a better job. Mostly, I’ve worked with mentors and leaders who appreciated and encouraged quality work done without any regard for gender imbalance. And why should it matter? Just as in any other industry, you need to join IT because you genuinely like it and not because it’s trendy. You need to strive to do something that you like. We spend too much time at work doing something we don’t like.
Katya Turchina, QA manager
What advice would you give to women who want to work in IT?
Invest in your education. Experience still matters, but attending work-related workshops and knowledge sharing sessions once in a while or obtaining new certificates will help you brush up your skills, expand your professional network, and solidify your knowledge. Just know that your mental and physical capabilities have their limits — and for continuous professional growth, you need to allocate your resources wisely and give yourself time to rest as well. Also, consider your current level when choosing a course. Aiming too high or enrolling in a course that is way too easy might take the fun out of learning.
Here are some courses I recommend:
- AgileLAB training on Agile and Lean (ICAgile). I completed several courses there, and I enjoyed them all. The main thing is to choose the right level so that it is interesting and useful.
- IT-Academy courses. From my perspective as a life-long student, it’s also worth looking up reviews on your potential teacher beforehand.
How has working in IT changed your life?
I’m a bug magnet. I’m not joking! No matter what website I go to, everything stops working correctly. And it’s not just websites. My husband calls it “your QA karma.” A couple of days ago, I went to do some blood tests. I received an electronic queue number and I was redirected to the treatment room of the same number. After waiting for 15 minutes, I asked why my number hadn’t appeared on the screen. They told me that they didn’t have my number in the system at all. And that wasn’t their fault. This is how my QA karma strikes sometimes.
Nika Filistochvich, Senior Accountant
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I dreamed of becoming an investigator, but it didn’t work out.
Did it influence your career choices in any way?
Let’s just say that my dream didn’t directly affect my life, but it definitely helps in my line of work.
What do you love most about your job?
I love my job because it not only brings me joy, but also makes other employees happier.
I love it because my daily tasks require me to spend time analyzing something.
Ksenia Ganchuk, Salesforce Developer
What challenges do women face in IT?
In my opinion, the most difficult thing is when your skills and abilities are doubted because of your gender. And when this is what you face every day, it is unlikely that you will ever be able to relax.
Describe your ideal working day.
The ideal working day is when everything is done on time and as planned, and when the client says “Guys, this is awesome! This is exactly what I needed! Thank you.”
What are the pros and cons of working in IT as a woman?
You constantly communicate with very interesting and intelligent people from all around the world. For example, I was lucky enough to meet some cool guys from Germany and Switzerland. We have been communicating for more than four years, and during this time I managed to go to visit them. Thanks to my work, I discovered London and Edinburgh — I’d previously never even thought about spending my vacation there.
Elena Gracheva, Senior Account Manager
Who is your modern-day hero?
My hero is Melinda Gates. She is a powerful woman in philanthropy and founder and co-chair of the world’s largest private charitable foundation, with a $40 billion trust endowment.
Melinda is solving tough global challenges, from education and poverty to contraception and sanitation, and women’s and girls’ rights. A part of her mission is to close the funding gap for female founders, through her investment company, Pivotal Ventures. All of that deeply resonates with me, and this is why I believe Melinda is a brilliant female role model.
Halyna Yakymchuk, QA Engineer
What got you interested in tech?
My route into tech was pretty long. When I was 12, I was just dreaming about getting a PC, and my fascination with tech has only grown since then. During my university years as a philology student, I felt I was missing out. So, I decided to test the waters and started looking for answers to my questions. I wondered what my prospects were in IT, and the direction in which I should channel my efforts. I suppose many beginners ask themselves the same questions. For some time, I stayed in my initial career until I got stuck and felt like there was nothing new for me to discover.
Moving into IT felt like a breath of fresh air. No bureaucracy whatsoever, multiple ways to develop your skills, and no speeches every day in front of an audience. I think that the last point was the determining factor for me. The only thing I regret is not launching my career in tech earlier.
Vasylyna Bryhadyr, Senior QA Engineer
What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?
Even though the IT field has remained predominantly male, don’t let your self-doubt, fears, and other people’s opinions stop you from doing what you like. If you are looking for advice to build your IT career, I would recommend reading the book “The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate” by Fran Hauser. It’ll help you to understand that you don’t need to sacrifice your values or hide your personality to be a woman in tech. Also, it provides detailed wisdom on how to balance being empathetic with being decisive at work.
Iryna Gulevata, QA Engineer
What is your typical day like?
As a working mom, my day is somewhat different to other people’s. I usually get up at 7:30, make breakfast for my son, and get him ready for school. After that, I have an hour or less to myself. Usually, I read articles on specialization. At around 9 a.m., my daughter wakes up, I do exercises for myself and clean up. We have breakfast and go out for a walk. At noon, the nanny or my husband takes over caring for the child, and I start working. After 8 p.m., we have dinner together as a family. I help my son with his homework and then we all spend the evening together, playing, communicating, and watching movies. Somewhere around 11 p.m, when the children are already asleep, I try to find time for myself – though I don’t always find it! I do yoga and beauty treatments, and if I still have the strength, I read again and watch training videos. I usually go to sleep somewhere around 2 a.m.
Olena Kysliuk, Senior QA Engineer
What sources would you recommend reading to stay updated?
One of my most visited resources lately is Medium. I think you can find lots of amazing pieces there, or share your own vision.
Viktoria Kostiuk, QA Engineer
Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
Yes. I became interested in computer technology when I was a kid. My mother was a computer science teacher and often took me to work with her. But, because of my poor eyesight, my parents were against such a profession, so I chose finance as my specialty. However, the dream did not go away. I pursued further education, and it brought me here, to the place where I belong.
Alisa Popova, Java FS Engineer
What does it feel like to be a woman in software development?
Unfortunately, women in software development are still rare. I’ve only encountered other female developers in three projects throughout my career. Being a “woman who codes” means that sometimes you have to deal with assumptions or judgments that women in tech are not good enough — either they don’t have a proper education or they cannot deal with complex tasks.
But what I really love about women in tech is that all of the women I’ve worked with have been smart and confident, as well as brave and ambitious. I’ve certainly learned a lot from them, and hopefully, they learned a thing or two from me as well. As a bonus, I now have a few more good friends.