Hi Ursula, what has your personal career journey into the tech industry been like?
When I was a kid, I was fascinated with science fiction films where robots were powered by artificial intelligence. I have wanted to be part of that ever since, I just wasn’t sure how exactly.
When I was 16 years old, my father taught me how to code. He showed me how to use conditionals, loops and how to read and write in the terminal. That was it. So simple yet so fun. I was amazed by the fact that I was able to tell the computer what to do. That is when I realised that I wanted to become a Software Engineer.
Now I work as a Web Engineer. This allows me to explore and use my creative side building web applications, taking care of little details and thinking about what is the best way to build a feature that a lot of people will use.
What do you think leaders could do to help support gender equality within their teams?
I think leaders can take different initiatives within their own companies to foster gender equality.
Mentoring. I would not be where I am today without the support and mentorship of many people (teachers, friends, family, co-workers, bosses) from whom I learned from their successes and failures, who encouraged me when my confidence waned. I think it is important to promote having mentors.
Promote equality. Is not about just focusing on women, but about ensuring that everyone in the company has the same opportunities to grow and succeed. It is also important to make this transparent and visible to anyone in the company.
Communication. There are different styles of communication. Some people use a more dominated style during discussions while others a less dominated style but with equally strong ideas. I think leaders should ensure that everyone has the opportunity to speak without being constantly interrupted. That way they can recognise and support all styles of communication, generate opportunities for all and acknowledge the participation and good ideas.
Widening that point, how can businesses adapt to ensure they are enhancing women with their careers?
To promote equality in the workplace, it is important to be transparent about the current status of the company and what they want to achieve. Being aware of how many women are employed, for which roles and if they are being paid equally to a man in the same role is crucial for future improvement.
The recruiting process is also very important. To avoid any bias, you can remove names and photos from the resume during the selection process. That way you give everyone the same opportunity and select a candidate based on their experience and skills. When you make an offer, avoid the pay gap between women and men by having a salary range for the role.
Work-life balance should be a priority for all employees in the company. Working mothers need extra support. Promoting parental leave for fathers can help women to invest more time in their careers. Plus, offering flexibility and the option to work remotely can help them to increase their productivity.
What are your top 3 tips for women looking to break into tech and design, or progress from their current position into a more senior role?
Apply for that job. You might think you are not qualified for that position, but what if instead you think “Wow, I’m really going to learn a lot!”
Make your work visible. Is not about bragging, but about sharing what you are working on or what you are learning. This will help you to maintain a strong presence on your team and could lead you to become an expert in industry knowledge.
Know your strengths, use them wisely. People have different abilities and strengths. That is good because that is how you complement each other on a team. Different perspectives lead to innovation. Your strengths are important and you need to make the most of them. It may be that you are a good listener, that you keep calm under stressful situations and provide that calm to your team, your curiosity, your creativity, etc.
In tribute to IWD’s 2021 campaign, what do you choose to challenge?
I choose to challenge the imposter syndrome. I will encourage women to take more chances and go for opportunities they desire.
Fancy joining the discussion?
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