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Stories from the Blok #6 recap: The current state of WomenInTech

Marketing Ana Ilievska Ana Ilievska
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The 6th edition of Stories from the Blok, held on March 31, 2022, was an event very dear to many of us and one that has and will inspire change in the tech industry. The live event can be found on our YouTube channel. Dedicated to women in tech, it delivered a few key messages for women in the industry:

  • Encourage yourself and others to work in tech despite all myths & challenges.

  • Empower others by pursuing your dream job and career.

  • You can be whoever you want to be!

The event was opened by Storyblok’s own DevRel Engineer, Arisa Fukuzaki, who talked about her tech journey, her role models, and the power of communities.

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In her speech, Arisa told the audience about her journey from a cabin crew to a developer, which was initiated by her desire to have a successful career outside of aviation and to have a skill set that will land her a job that is in high demand. She started her journey by testing the waters to see if the tech industry would be a good match for her. After learning the basics, she realized she loved it, and it was time to make the switch by taking an online programming course, where she met her first mentor and role model.

So, how important is it to have a role model? According to Arisa, finding role models is the key to a successful tech career journey, especially for a woman. Although she wishes to have had a woman as a role model, which was very hard to find as tech is a very male-dominated industry, she was happy to have someone from whom she could learn and be inspired. Having her teacher as her role model encouraged Arisa to believe that she, too, could one day walk in his shoes.

During her schooling, Arisa was able to join tech communities where she found her first clients, unique new role models, friends, and the inspiration and platform to co-fund an online programming school. To give back to the tech community, Arisa started teaching and taught over 50 students. What I found to be most inspiring from Arisa’s speech is that instead of continuing to look for a female role model, Arisa became one herself for her students.

We learned from Arisa that there had been a rise in the number of women in tech in the past 3 years as more and more women join tech channels/communities, especially those dedicated to women in tech. The WomenInTech movement continues to grow and make an impact.

The Current State of WomenInTech by Rita Wachtler, HRIS Specialist at Storyblok

In her presentation, Rita shared the results from a survey Storyblok conducted to find out what it takes for women to enter, build a career, and excel in the tech industry. Open to all women and those who identify as women, the survey represented the answers of women in all spheres of tech as well as women from 19 different countries. Almost 50% of the respondents had a STEM degree.

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To the question: Have you ever felt you were not treated equally at work because of your gender? - we were not surprised to see that 68% said yes, 17% no, and the rest were not sure. When asked if they think tech events targeting women are exclusionary, almost 70% said no.

A few interesting survey observations were brought to our attention. For example, 3 main reasons sparked the respondents’ interest in the tech industry:

  • Childhood activities like video games and home computers, and of course, siblings and parents

  • Remote work opportunities and flexible hours

  • Curiosity and fascination with technology and especially the rise of the Internet

We also learned that what motives the survey participants to keep going/moving every day are the people around them, at work and home, their interest in technology, and the fact that they know young girls are looking up to them as they are their role models.

When asked what they think needs to be done for women to have more opportunities in the tech sphere, women gave many suggestions that included:

  • Exposure and education about technology from a young age and also, as adults, letting women know about intensive coding camps or other programs that would allow them a career in tech.

  • Awareness and representation. Letting young girls and women know that a tech career is a viable option for them. This can be done by natural or fictional means: school textbooks or children’s TV shows showing female programmers or female IT support. In real life, inviting women who work in tech to speak at events or visit school assemblies to explain why working in tech is so great.

Lastly, the survey participants offered some inspiring advice for women in tech:

  • Take action, don’t wait.
    Don’t wait to have 100% of the qualifications for a job; apply anyway. Don’t wait for others to pave the way for women; you do it.

  • Find an ally/advocate.
    This can be a colleague, a mentor, or even a friend or family member that is committed to standing up for you when others doubt you. Or when imposter syndrome set-ins and you are doubting yourself, this person is there to remind you of your talent and skills.

  • Support, Don’t Compete
    Lift each other up. Support women around you.

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