Women in Tech Week (Coders on Couches Drinking Coffee, Episode 3)
To celebrate Women in Tech (#WinTech) Week, we sat down with a few of Safe Software’s Tech Experts for a new episode of Coders on Couches Drinking Coffee.
We chatted about how we ended up on this awesome career path and were surprised to find a common theme. We also shared thoughts on why we think so few women pursue a career in tech and how that could be changed.
The goal of WinTech is to provide opportunities to women through professional development and mentorship. If there’s a young woman in your life who is planning her future, why not inspire her by showing her all the cool stuff you get to work on every day? One thing stood out to us the most from this chat: we all would have pursued a career in tech a lot sooner if only we’d known what a fun and dynamic industry this is. It all starts with inspiration. You can be that inspiration for the next generation!
Further Girl Power
Last year for Women in IT Week (similar but different), Tiana interviewed several of our software developers about their roles at Safe Software and what they love about working in the tech industry. Read that blog post here:
P.S. We’re hiring. Check out our job openings.
Laura: I never anticipated ending up in software at all actually. I went into university looking for a degree in English Literature, and found myself in computer science actually, so —
Annabelle: I actually went to a liberal arts college in New York state, and I ended up doing Geology and Environmental Geography, and from there I just kind of actually grew to like it more and more — and then I took GIS. And turns out that GIS is actually one of the more practical applications of a Geography degree. So I did a BCIT course. Safe actually has quite a few people working there from that program. And so later on in my life when I was looking for a new opportunity, Safe came up I was like … kinda nervous because there’s so many formats here that I’ve never dealt with before, but it just kind of seemed like a natural choice. And now I know a lot more about everything. Not just GIS, just — crazy stuff I’d never thought I’d — like, the fact that I even know what Docker is really impresses my [laughter]. Like I have a few web developer friends like “you know what Docker is? That’s amazing!” Like, okay let’s not get ahead of ourselves, like I’ve heard of it, I don’t know how to use it, but I know what it is.
Tiana: It is overwhelming coming in. Like when I started here as a co-op in 2009, I didn’t — it took me months to even understand even what FME did. And probably at least a year to be able to explain it to other people. And I think if people just realized going into a tech job that you’re not going to understand it right away, and you will eventually learn through working, then it’ll be less intimidating I think.
Candace: I still find that sometimes, like my friends — I find it very difficult to explain what I do.
Tia: I guess I didn’t see myself working at a software company either. I started off in Earth Sciences, I wanted to do. Then I switched over to Environmental Sciences, so kind of in the same vein — like Annabelle, I went to BCIT and then Safe scooped me up. Yeah, I’m happy I’m at a software company now, because looking back, it’s like — this is more in tune with what I wanted to do.
Natalie: I started in Health Sciences, and then I was interested in GIS, and — but by the time I realized a Software Company might be appealing it was like, oh it’s too late because I can’t become a developer now. Of course it makes sense that they would need say technical support or sales or knowledge or the education side of it, but I didn’t consider that initially, so I also did school at BCIT where they like to teach you a little bit about everything and then that’s how I found out about Safe, and I’m glad I did and can be part of a software company without a developer background.
Candace: Going to university I also found remote sensing imagery. I thought, I love the application of imagery and doing analysis of our world and things like that. And just sort of grew organically into a software company. I didn’t expect to be at a software company.
Atsuko: I went to university for education, so I wanted to be a teacher. I took a 4-year course in Japan, and for some reasons, I decided to apply to computer IT companies in Japan — Tokyo — and since then, for 25 years, since I’m 19 … tech companies. I’m different from everybody because I’m more business / sales side, but I’m always enjoying being at Safe Software working with very friendly people.
Tiana: It’s a good place to work. It’s a lot of fun. I maintain that software jobs are among the most fun work environments — like the culture [murmurs of agreement] — yeah, they’re so much fun.
Tiana: I find that really interesting how many of us never intended to go into computers. I was the same I went to university for psychology. And then I was like you, I was like, oh a computer science course, I guess I’ll take it. Then I was like oh this is awesome so I completely veered off. But I think that kind of points to something wrong with like high school and elementary school education — why are more kids not aware of that? We were all surprised later, like oh computers is fun! This should be happening way sooner.
Natalie: Well I think it’s challenging though because I think there was a study recently that showed girls by the age of — not very old, like 5 or 6 — they had already crossed off that they’d consider certain positions because of them being girls.
Annabelle: It’s not cool to be into programming I guess when you’re a kid. I don’t know, maybe things are different now. I was into math when I was young and it was kind of like oh, ugh, you like math.
Annabelle: Actually it’s only when I — I went to an all-girls school until grade 8 — and I actually didn’t even think about the whole math thing or like computers until I went to a co-ed school.
Tia: I think from an early age women tend to — or I guess girls — tend to shy away from computers and everything like that, because it’s like the boy thing.
Candace: Yeah it’s unfortunate because it totally is not.
Tiana: In university when I started studying computers I really noticed that I was the only girl in the vicinity, but then after a while you don’t notice anymore. And here especially when it is so balanced then it doesn’t really occur to me on a daily basis that there are fewer women in tech.
Candace: I have a little girl and I’m hoping that her seeing me in this field — will realize, yeah, that’s normal. People do this.
Laura: Yeah I think exposure’s a big thing. Like for me, my experience, I’d never seen computers or I never knew what programming was so it’s not something I even thought about. So seeing that more often when I was younger maybe could have influenced me a little bit differently.