It all comes down to individual effort, affinities, and willingness to commit
Women in the IT industry − this is a topic discussed more frequently lately, but it seems, still not enough. We give our contribution, in collaboration with IT Girls, by promoting some topics of interest, by pointing out certain issues and, maybe most importantly, by providing support to women.
We believe that this is an important issue, that we need to encourage girls to choose this route, and what better way to do that then by giving an example. For that reason we are talking to Nevena Sofranić.
Tell us something about IT Girls: Who you are? What is the goal of the platform? What inspired you to start this type of promotion for women/girls in IT?
The idea behind the IT Girls project was to get more girls and women interested in this field, and to motivate and encourage those who are familiar with it, and those who are knee-deep in it. Our goal is to write about the latest developments, events, meetups, and to share stories of women and girls who have achieved their professional goals in this field, or are on their way of achieving them. This would serve to address some questions and concerns that inevitably arise in the learning process, to share useful advice and experiences from people who are well versed in IT industry, and to show all the benefits of exploring this filed and working in it.
Women/girls in the IT sector − is that still an exception, here in our country, that confirms the rule or stereotype that IT is still a „male“ profession?
There is a growing interest for jobs in this field, from both genders. In previous generations, there was this gap between genders, and technology was viewed as a field designated primarily for men. I believe that this division is fading over time, but it remains ingrained in people’s minds. It’s a model that has been cultivated for so long that it is necessary to support girls by giving them an extra push. In general, I believe that gender is irrelevant when it comes to predicting a person’s success in any field. It all comes down to individual effort, affinities, and willingness to commit. Of course, being in a stimulating environment can only help, regardless of gender.
Serbia – our surroundings – the world? What are the current trends and how far behind are we?
Data gathered from college entrance exams shows that the interest is growing, and that trend is going to continue, which is encouraging. When it comes to organizations such as IT Girls, that is where we lag behind, because the companies in the world work internally to increase the number of women on their tech teams. I believe that with this project we have helped raise awareness in local IT companies. One thing that girls have to learn, if they want to be equal, is that they have to act accordingly when faced with obstacles. I believe there are a lot of things that need to change in the way that the female gender often thinks.
Your activities, projects and events… what have they shown you and how much have they contributed to empowerment of women in this field?
First event that we organized was a hackathon, where the youngest participant was a sixteen-year-old girl. I feel that the first obstacle every female needs to overcome is − confidence. These types of events help them do just that, and the biggest contributors in that regard are the mentors. The participants have the chance to meet people who are just like them, and see that they could do the same, or they can use the opportunity to simply showcase their skills. We were impressed by a freshman from the Faculty of Mathematics, because, in a few hours, she managed to create an entire game, which I myself was eager to play, on Unity.
Our plans for the future involve developing mentoring support, writing a column about hacks and tricks in programming, and collaborating with different companies to help organize events. The first thing, though, will be to redesign our website.
Can women/girls expect an equal treatment, and how well are they accepted in the IT profession in general? How often is the high income an extra incentive for them to choose IT?
It’s a fact that the IT community needs more qualified and dedicated people. Those from the field can recognize knowledge, skill and talent, regardless of gender, social status or other determinants. Inequality, if it exists, is a difficult and serious issue that requires a studied approach. As far as financial compensation is concerned, it is one of the factors that can attract people to IT. However, it can not and should not be the deciding factor. A person’s job is a big part of their life and it should bring deeper satisfaction then purely material gain.
Can you share a success story that best describes how much women can be and already are successful in this domain (a local example would be great)?
There are many examples of women worldwide who have achieved outstanding results in their profession, or are successful entrepreneurs, and we write about them in our column World. On our portal we periodically publish interviews with women from different industry fields. I would like to single out one local representative, and I believe many will agree with me. Milica Ostojić is a software engineer and an active member of local IT community. We often collaborate with her, because she actively supports women in this industry, most often through mentoring workshops for Rails Girls. Apart from that, she organizes meetups for the PHP Serbia association. She is a genuine supporter of girls in this field.
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