I’m a software engineer on the mobile team at Dashlane. In my career as a developer, I’ve designed and coded for tools, web apps, computer-scheduled programs, large-scale databases, search engines, various algorithms on Linux and Windows, both in B2C and B2B businesses and mostly at tech start-ups.
Oh, and I’m a woman.
This last fact shouldn’t have to be unique or surprising, but more often than not, it is. Even back in college, where I studied industrial computing, I was one of 25 girls in a class of 245. That’s when I first felt that I was indeed a girl in an essentially male environment.
Is the tech industry a boys’ club? Well, there are certainly more guys in it. Yet I believe that times are changing. More and more women are entering the tech industry. And this is necessary. After all, diversifying the tech workforce can only benefit the industry at large.
As far as being a woman in a male environment, I personally don’t think about it too much. I like talking about the Internet, technology, programming languages. I live and breathe code. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me that I am the only woman in a team of over 20 male engineers. What I care about is working with nice people who work hard, and getting equal respect and consideration, just as any other person on the team.
It saddens me to think that some women in tech have felt discriminated against or witnessed sexual harassment in the work place. But if you’re a woman and you want to work in tech, I wouldn’t let stories about a “brogrammer” culture deter you. Instead, focus on your craft, because your skills will speak louder than your gender.
I do believe that events and organizations focused on “women in tech” can be valuable in bringing more women into our industry. For starters, there’s a special way of networking between women can help individuals face challenges and share common experiences. Meet-ups for women in tech help broadcast empowering messages and views of women in the tech world. However, I feel that pushing “women in tech” too hard can be detrimental, by making it seem that this industry is really tough for women. It’s a fine balance.
Overall, however, to become a female developer, you should do as any other smart dev. Spend weekends and late nights in front of your computer, laying down lines of code, debugging and developing your personal projects. Follow tutorials, read articles, and learn on the fly. Master the lingo. And, if you are curious enough to go deep down to the core of what you are trying to build, you will acquire a large and useful understanding of computer science. In a nutshell, become a pure, hardcore geek developer.
One of the things I love most about programming is that it allows you to build things on your own. They can be rather ambitious tasks, or simple and amusing ones. The job itself requires a lot of dedication and precision, and you need to be highly motivated. But it’s incredibly rewarding.
At Dashlane, I am the only female developer, and while, yes, I’m known as “the girl developer,” that novelty doesn’t really affect my work or the work environment. I can take on any challenges I want, and my gender doesn’t define me. I respect my coworkers — and they respect me in return.