Girls Code: What is it like to be a woman in the tech industry?

by Koree S. Monteloyola

 

girls code icon

This week I'm sharing the email I received from another Filipina who has recently developed an interest in coding.

Although it is true that there is gendar gap in computer courses and the I.T. workplace, that is slowly changing. I'm happy to tell you (in case you haven't heard of it) that women outnumber men in an introductory computer course at Berkeley.

Sweet.

Now let's read May's email.

 

"Hi there :) I can't tell you how glad I felt when I stumbled upon your website. I'm a Filipina myself and I recently cultivated an interest for tech (I'm currently playing around with scripting languages). With that in mind, I'd just like to ask you a question :) What is it like to be a woman in the (currently male-dominated) tech industry? I'm only about to start college and already I've seen hints that women aren't very much welcomed in the field. Also, what sparked your interest in tech? :D"

-May
(Sent on April 29, 2014 9:42AM)

Hi May, I am also glad that another Filipina has enjoyed coding, welcome to the jungle. Thank you for asking these beautiful questions, I’m pleased to answer them. I apologize if it’s too long for you, hopefully these words would guide you in your chosen career.

What is it like to be a woman in the (currently male-dominated) tech industry? 

All is well, as long as you can deliver what is expected of you in the workplace. From the start when I decided that I want to be in this field, I knew that being a woman has nothing to do with my chosen profession. My mind is free. I’m lucky that I was born in a democratic country wherein women enjoy equal rights with men.  I’m actually surprised, until now, why girls don’t enroll in computer courses, and go on to be successful I.T professionals?

Although it is true that men outnumber women in every technological gathering I have been to, to me, it is just an observation, and it ends there. I don’t let that bother me. Contrary to some sexist articles against men (in the Philippines), you can’t compare a group of male nerds to a pack of hungry wolves. Oh no, that would be very wrong my dear. In a tech conference, such as ComiCon, a girl would probably be the last to get a nerd’s attention.

But men being men have their own brand of humor, and you can’t change this and it will never change. I have to admit that sometimes it gets awkward when they share stories about personal stuff that only other men should hear. When you experience this and feel uncomfortable, you can leave the area or inform them that they are not in the proper place to discuss these kinds of things. If you feel violated as a woman, stand firm and remember your rights as a woman in your school and in the workplace.

I'm only about to start college and already I've seen hints that women aren't very much welcomed in the field. 

I would like to know more about your experience on this. What prompted you to say that?

Also, what sparked your interest in tech? :D

It all started because of a Power Point project in highschool. It allowed me to be creative and technical at the same time. After being an expert in PowerPoint (hahaha!), I got addicted in creating webpages (using HTML), again it is a medium that allows me to be artistic and use other media.

However, my interest in programming was triggered by an embarrassing feedback from my professor in my freshman year in college. I remember that I approached him to check my seatwork, but he said in a loud voice, “Ano ‘to?!” (“What is this?!”). My other classmates heard it and I was really humiliated. BUT, I didn’t let it end negatively; I took it as a challenge. I went to a bookstore and bought a programming book about Pascal programming and studied it by myself, ahead of our lessons, and from there it was history.

 

P.S.

Did you know that the first computer programmer is a woman? Her name is Lady Lovelace. So be cool and humble about yourself, you are (just) another woman who apparently enjoys coding. Remember, a woman who has the right amount of self-respect doesn’t need to feel awkward or be overwhelmed when surrounded by men.

Code away, May. ☺

Girls Code: My tips on how to be prepared for your interview as a PHP programmer

by Koree S. Monteloyola

 

girls code iconTwo girls sent me an email this week - on the same day, with a very similar set of questions that I thought they're the same person.

In this post, I'd publish the second email, which was sent by Nathalie. She is a B.S. Info. Tech. student and just graduated this April.

In her email she said:

Hi! I just Graduated last April (2014). I was amazed how passionate you are in programming.
I am just beginning my journey to employment and tried to apply. Yesterday I received an email for an initial interview as a php developer, and to me it is an overwhelming chance. I would like to grab this opportunity to ask what usually happens during the initial interview as an applicant for php web developer?
Do companies give an exam and how difficult is it for a beginner, who is passionate, like me? I just want the job that's why I wanted to ask how it looks like.

-Nathalie
(Sent on April 29, 2014 8:57PM)

First of all, I want to congratulate Nathalie on her graduation, as girls, we are a step closer to solving the issue of gender gap in the tech industry because of her. =) Now back to her email.

I have to admit that I'm not an expert on this subject, and I also failed in some interviews before while applying. But I have some practical tips that I can give you as a programmer.

I think that you're aware of the 3 basic parts of an interview (opening, body of interview and closing), if not I suggest that you research on this.

Truth is, the chances of being hired during an interview depends on your preparations way BEFORE the interview, which should MOSTLY involve reading I.T. articles and coding.

Take note that regardless of what position you're applying for, the interview is an opportunity to MARKET YOURSELF OR YOUR SKILLS. So try to give a good first impression.

I hope your communication skills are good as well, enough to express yourself. And if the interviewer asks you to take a hands-on coding exam, you should do it, because this will determine the level of your confidence as a programmer. Don't be shy/scared to ask if it's alright to use a coding manual, in case you need it. With regards to confidence in coding, you would only gain that IF you read and practice coding daily. There is no easy-way or short-cut to do this. Reading would be an essential/constant activity in this field.

Some questions that they could ask you are:

1. what tools or platforms are you using for web development?
2. Do you have a portfolio available online?
3. Are the projects posted on your portfolio accessible online?
4. Have you tried to use Linux?
5. Are you aware of the latest news/technologies/standars in web development?

The complexity of the coding exam, vary for each company. Sometimes there are written exams that test logic formulation. For coding exams, your potential superior just needs to see if you know how to process transactions on PHP level with database integration.

That's it. I hope I was able to answer your questions.

Goodluck with the interview Nathalie. Kick-ass!

For further web development inquiries go to my contact page to send me a message.