Women Can Change Career and Work In Tech
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From Teacher To Developer
Interview with Shannone Controu, Fullstack Developer at Danae.
- Tell us a bit more about your professional background.
I started out studying microbiology at university in order to become a teacher, which I knew would be quite a complicated path because of the exams you needed to pass. However, after completing a Master of Education, I finally became a teacher. After two years working in the field, I realised that this wasn’t the career I wanted to pursue.
I decided to completely change my career path and started a short training program in web development and now I'm in the same company since my internship! I am the only technical person working in the team and I have been managing the whole activity for nearly a year now.
- How did you come to work in the software development industry?
When you are considering changing your professional path, the possibilities are endless! What helped me in making the decision to start web development was meeting some developers within my network who gave me a pretty accurate insight into the job. Moreover, I also had a friend teaching in the program I eventually followed who encouraged me to take the exams even though I knew nothing about coding. And it went very well! The fact that most of the work resides in trying to solve a problem really intrigued me and played a big role in convincing me to choose this path.
As a teacher living with a developer friend, I could see the whole lifestyle, he was working a lot of course - but you end up doing the same as a teacher - and always on his computer, only remotely. He could organise his work days as he wanted and I quite liked this lifestyle and so I became a nomad myself.
- In what way do you think women bring something different to the profession?
Firstly, I would like to say that women have their place in the tech industry simply because we are needed in the job. There are biased products because of the lack of women in tech positions. For example, Sat Nav software was only trained on male voices, consequently when a woman was saying her destination, the device could not recognise it. So it's not because women are not good enough in tech positions, it is because the industry is not taking them into account and this is why we have a role to play as women in technology.
Gender equality, in an industry that is everywhere and impacts the lives of so many people today - like technology - is paramount in order to avoid such bias like mentioned above.
- Have you experienced any difficulties finding your place in the tech world? Or ever thought it was not for you, maybe?
I would not say that I have had a hard time finding my place, although I have definitely faced some challenges at times due to being one of the few women in the job. I am happy to show that women deserve to be here, even though some may think differently.
I have noticed that there are more and more women in the web development course which I took. In some intakes there are even as many women as men. I believe it is due to the incredible support and the kindness provided during the training; no one learns if all circumstances are not taken into consideration and if you are finding yourself failing - this would discourage anyone.
- Is inclusion and diversity a topic in your company? Are there any actions taken to address it?
The current company I am working for was founded by a married couple, so you could say that in terms of gender equality, we haven't been bad from the start. The fact that the company is cofounded by a woman raises awareness on the topic earlier on. Today, there are more women than men for one simple reason: there are as many women as men applying for a job in the company.
There is one concrete action that we can take: changing the job descriptions — in one episode of Le Clan Podcast, Kevin Duchier from Germinal tells how more women applied when they changed their job descriptions. According to an internal Hewlett Packard report, most women won’t apply to a job unless they check all of the job description requirements, whereas men will apply even when they only check 60% of them. So, if you remove these long lists of skill requirements, more women will apply.
- How do you explain the scarce presence of women in the industry?
The answer is pretty plain to me. Firstly, the job is seen as a male job - as is anything that involves science. Secondly is our education; girls are rarely encouraged to take an interest in subjects like science. Plus, computer science is seen as complicated and something difficult to grasp. The UX is also not seen as particularly attractive.
- What would you say to a woman wishing to work within the tech industry and culture?
While changing my career path, I created an Instagram account on the topic; firstly because the role of women in our societies is central to me, and then to show to other women that it is possible to start a new job, even in the technology industry. I would like to start a new project and write an e-book to encourage and support women in their career change.
My message is quite simple: the only barrier is you. So, if you wish to start a career in tech - do it! Simply because it is such a dynamic industry and there is a place for you in this job and on this market.