Highlighting Women’s Impact in Software Engineering cover

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Highlighting Women’s Impact in Software Engineering

On this International Women's Day, we delve into the world of software engineering – a domain still dominated by men but now witnessing a steady influx of talented women. However, the journey towards parity is far from over. According to a study by the National Center for Women & Information Technology in 2020, only 26% of professional computing occupations in the U.S. were held by women.

This article intends to not only recognize and celebrate the women who have made strides in this arena but also to underscore the importance of continuing to bridge this gap. We will shed light on the achievements of women in software engineering, their challenges, and the significance of their increased participation in this sector.

At Abusix, we’re on a mission to provide a fresh perspective on email protection, network security, and reporting network abuse. Together, we’re working to make the internet safer for everyone, offering innovative solutions that protect your organization while contributing to a more secure digital world.

Our female software engineers play a key factor in our remote teams spread all over the world. They take over ownership in projects and bring our products to the next level. Let’s hear some insights:

Floy, working student in Software Engineering

I'm Floy, and I've been working at Abusix for over 5 years and studying for my bachelor's on the side. I mostly work on microservices and APIs written in typescript, doing data-intensive work with Postgres and Kafka. I enjoy designing and developing software that is stable enough to run for long stretches of time without intervention, but that is also easily extendable if requirements change.

As a woman in software engineering, you are a role model for other women who want to go that route. What tips can you give them to achieve their goal?

Try to find a support network that includes other underrepresented people in tech who believe in you, who have your back and who are there for you when you face pushback or discrimination. Don't let yourself be pushed into fields that are perceived as 'more feminine' like UI or design if that's not what you want to do. But if that is something you want to do, don't let that perception hold you back.

Who is a female role model for you, and why?

Margaret Hamilton was the Director of Software Engineering for the Apollo Guidance Computer and absolutely instrumental in getting humans to the moon. Actually, she also arguably coined and definitely popularized the term Software Engineering in the first place. Her focus on software reliability and error detection and recovery techniques are something we, as a discipline, still have a lot to learn from. Also, her approach to understanding and analyzing systems is timeless: looking at software is never enough, you always also have to consider the hardware and the human who's in the loop. If you haven't seen it, look up the 1969 photo of her next to a stack of Apollo listings. I don't think I'll ever look that cool while doing software engineering.

Did you encounter any challenges throughout your career?

As a transfeminine person, I face a slightly different set of privileges and challenges than most people. As I started out doing stuff with computers before coming out, I probably had an easier time entering the field compared to many cis women. I've been somewhat lucky so far, but having the topic of my gender, questions about pronouns, and in the worst case, anti-trans and sexist talking points eclipse my skills in some people's perception is very frustrating and demoralizing.

Celine, Data Services Analyst

My name is Celine, I´m from the Philippines and I´ve been working at Abusix for one year. I'm a walking contradiction. I love all things dark and melancholic, but personality-wise, I'm a mildly crazy, cheerful & positive person who likes puzzles, problem-solving, and over-analyzing anything.

As a woman in software engineering, you are a role model for other women who want to go that route. What tips can you give them to achieve their goal?

The first tip would be… go for it! Don't dwell too much on hesitating and concentrating on what you lack or how you think you don't fit. There are awesome people and companies out there who are willing to give a chance and to teach you and guide you to succeed. Second would be to find the role in software engineering you think you would most enjoy then build up your knowledge and skills on it. A job doesn't feel like a job if you like what you do. Lastly, keep learning!

Who is a female role model for you, and why?

No one in particular. I admire everyone who is passionate about improving and making things better whether it be products, how things are done, or how to better collaborate and work together.

Did you encounter any challenges throughout your career?

Yes, lots! Getting into cybersecurity & software engineering began with luck and a lot of determination. Staying in it involved a lot of learning, adapting and keeping up with trends. Working with people from many different countries is chaotic and anxiety-inducing prior to finding out and being able to properly pronounce co-worker's names!

Juliana, Software Engineer

My name is Juliana. I'm from Brazil, but currently live in Belgium. I came to study at KU Leuven, where I got my Bsc and Msc in Electronics & ICT Engineering. Currently I work as a Fullstack Engineer at Abusix. In my free time, I enjoy reading, learning languages, and playing the guitar.

As a woman in software engineering, you are a role model for other women who want to go that route. What tips can you give them to achieve their goal?

Be truthful to what you like: figure out what you enjoy in software engineering and give it a try. Don't specialize in something just because of the demand it might have, because ultimately it is not a sustainable life decision in the long run. The point is, find what you like to work on (trial and error) so that you have an intrinsic drive to do it, and not purely external motivations – which are ok, but should ideally not be everything motivating you to get into a specific career or specialization. Keep your curiosity alive: an openness to learning as well as a critical sense of what you need to improve on, both in hard and soft skills, is what keeps you getting better, not only at the start but throughout your whole career. Keep reading about what interests you, build things on your own to make sure you get it, listen to your peers and be open to (reasonable) feedback. Find opportunities with a healthy work culture: look for opportunities where you can put your knowledge to use to build cool and impactful products, where you enjoy collaborating with others, feel heard and can take initiative. I think part of figuring out the type of work culture that helps you foster your talents best inevitably comes from work experience/trial and error, so be observant of what you like, what you don't, and why, so that you're better able to find a good fit taking that into consideration.

Who is a female role model for you and why?

This might be a bit of a cliche answer, but my mom. She's clever, hard working, and has a great sense of humor. I think a lot of my drive in life was instilled in me by her, which I'm grateful for. I also have peers in the field I look up to, not only because of how much they know, but also the constant effort they put into their work, as well as the easeness when it comes to communicating and collaborating with them.

Did you encounter any challenges throughout your career?

I have been in situations in the past that were challenging, such as being assigned to a project outside of my technical scope, having to work alone on it, and having a tight deadline to complete it (not fun), but I think that goes back to how important work culture is, which you really learn from experience.

Sewmi, Senior Site Reliability Engineer

I originate from a small town in Sri Lanka, where it was quite rare for a woman to succeed in IT, particularly in DevOps. Over the 8 years in the industry, I was honored to be a finalist in the Woman in IT Asia Awards 2021 in the category of Outstanding Contribution of the Year, acknowledging my work in the industry. I am naturally inquisitive and sociable, and I express myself openly. In my leisure time, I enjoy reading and listening to music.

As a woman in software engineering, you are a role model for other women who want to go that route. What tips can you give them to achieve their goal?

You may not know how to do something now, but you will eventually. Believe in yourself; you are your own guide. Avoid toxic environments where possible, or find your own way of not being affected by them. Find time to stay in line with changing industry standards and technologies.

Who is a female role model for you, and why?

My role model has always been my mother. I believe any woman who strives to do her best, irrespective of background, situation, or occupation, should be viewed as a role model. They need to be someone who encourages and inspires fellow women and men alike, and someone who doesn’t know how to give up, but tries to make the best of the situation to leave their mark on society.

Did you encounter any challenges throughout your career?

Yes. However, I've also been fortunate enough to come across remarkable individuals who saw potential in me and provided the encouragement to help me become the best version of myself.

Charlotte, working student in Software Engineering

I am Charlotte and I'm currently studying computer science for my master's degree at the KIT. I have been working at Abusix as a working student for a little bit over one and a half years in the Data services team. In my free time, I like to go sailing.

As a woman in software engineering, you are a role model for other women who want to go that route. What tips can you give them to achieve their goal?

At university, I connected myself with other female students and formed study groups with them. For my seminars and bachelor thesis, I chose professors and mentors who were known to support female students. I also got inspiration from elder female students and asked them for advice.

Who is a female role model for you, and why?

In my family, there are a couple of women who already studied maths and computer science successfully to whom I look up. Because of this it always was normal to talk about these topics in my family.

Did you encounter any challenges throughout your career?

At university, I did encounter a few lecturers who made jokes about „stupid females“. Gladly I can tell that at Abusix this never was an issue.

In conclusion, this article highlights the growing presence and significant contributions of women in the field of software engineering. Despite challenges, their resilience and prowess have not only enhanced the sector but also paved the way for future generations of women. As we celebrate International Women's Day, let's continue to advocate for gender parity in all fields, recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion for a more innovative and balanced world.

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