IWD: What’s it like to be a female developer?
To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, Head of Operations, Amee Patel, has interviewed some of the women from each department at CloudTrade to recognize and celebrate their work and successes.
The first blog in this series focuses on some of the women from our development team, Kirsten Allanson, Katya Kelbaite, and Lucy Brown and discussing some of the challenges of being a female developer in the traditionally male-dominated development world.
AP: Hi Guys! Thank you so much for taking the time out to chat with me today. Can we start with a quick introduction of who you are and how you got into tech?
LB: My journey into tech started when I studied my undergraduate degree at the University of York. I studied Mathematics, which I enjoyed but I didn’t see a career path from that. I had a think about what I enjoyed the most in my degree, and it was the programming modules I’d done, so I decided to go down that path and went on to do a Masters degree at Newcastle University. It was 100% the right choice. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found that my brain worked the same way that this stuff worked. That was when I realized that this was the career path for me.
KA: I’m actually a career switcher. So after graduating with my undergraduate degree in Psychology, I did various admin and project management roles, and then I became interested in coding. I wanted to try something new, so I also did the conversion Masters at Newcastle University, and then went on to join CloudTrade, which I’m really enjoying.
KK: I’ve never been a geek, in the sense that men always say that they were always interested in computers and were creating apps when they were six years old, but I was never like that. I was really bad with computers and my dad always helped me with technical stuff, but my brain worked in a way that was very technical. I was good at Maths and Physics and at some point I decided that I should try IT, so I went to the Software Engineering academy and tried it out. After the first lesson I cried and told my parents that I would leave and never come back, however I decided to continue for a little while, got more into it, and then I became really interested in software and technology. I think this is because there are no two apps which are the same, and you always have to deal with all kinds of problems and finding the most efficient solutions. I then went on to university to study Computer Science, and joined the company around two years ago as a placement student.
AP: So you’ve all followed really different paths to get here! So now you are here – what is your role and what are you working on at the moment?
LB: I was drawn to CloudTrade because the Junior Software Engineer position for the first year is based on working on the web based application, which is where my interest lies. I started in November and so far, so good! My first project has been implementing the new page to manage some of the Service Bus functionality in Portal.
KA: I’ve worked here for a year and a half and I’m currently a Software Engineer. I manage the Portal team, so I look after everything to do with Portal. I’m also currently recruiting a new developer , and I’m working on the bespoke posting aspect of our containerization and Service Bus project.
KK: I work with Lucy and Kirsten on the Portal team, and my latest project has been creating the UI for ‘Project Grandalf’, the new tool that we are producing for automated rules creation, which is pretty cool.
AP: What would be your advice for young women looking to get into coding?
LB: Very generic advice, but just absolutely go for it! I think if it’s something that you’re really passionate about there’s loads of resources out there to teach yourself, or opportunities to be taught, using courses or something similar. At the moment, there’s quite a large initiative within companies which are striving to hire more women in tech, so it’s the perfect opportunity to go for it and be one of those women.
KK: Just really believing in yourself and making sure that you are confident enough to do anything you want, or like or feel passionate about.
KA: I’d say build yourself a network of people that you’ve worked with, or studied with. But also, go to meetups, or hackathons, or events and keep in touch with those people so that you always have people to support you, or who you can learn from, or who can tell you about opportunities or even just to talk to about nerd stuff.
AP: And what would you say are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
KA: My biggest challenge is imposter syndrome. Coming from a non-technical background, I get caught up in this idea of not being technical enough and not being your stereotypical developer, and feeling like I don’t belong in the spaces I find myself in. Sometimes it affects my confidence and I second guess myself before volunteering for opportunities. It’s difficult to get out of that mindset, but you hear more and more that your soft skills are as important as your technical skills, and you always know more than you think you do. One of the best things I’ve found to overcome my lack of confidence is training new starters like Lucy, because they ask questions and you realise that you know the answers.
LB: I found this question really hard, as so far my experience has been extremely positive. I think similar to Kirsten, women find it harder to believe in themselves, and coming into this role I was stressed thinking that I needed to fit a stereotype as a geek and watch tv shows like Game of Thrones (which I actually love), but I haven’t found that at CloudTrade. I think it’s more of a personal challenge being a woman as opposed to finding any professional challenges that I may have faced at work.
KK: I think attitude and recognition are the biggest challenges. When you start you think you know nothing and at times for me it was true, because I didn’t know anything about the areas of software I started working with. However, I think hard work is the answer because once you do it once, you have proved yourself. I think our biggest benefit as females is having strong social skills, so for us we think it’s okay to ask questions and this is our biggest asset. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions even if I looked stupid and weird. I thought I would ask everything right at the beginning, so that I would have all of the information and so that everyone would recognize that I knew what I was talking about. The environment at CloudTrade definitely helps this.
AP: And finally – what would you say is the best thing about working for CloudTrade?
KA: I like working for CloudTrade because we’re a small team, which means you can get involved in lots of different things. We get to communicate with your team in Operations, we talk to customers, we do some database stuff, we work with different technologies, we touch the front-end and the back-end, and there’s lots of opportunities to get stuck in across the board, rather than becoming a specialist in one area, which can sometimes happen in bigger companies.
KK: I 100% agree with Kirsten. When I was looking for a placement I didn’t want to work for a bigger company as I knew my daily routine would be very structured, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything else. However at CloudTrade I was told that I would be doing what was needed at the time and if I didn’t know something, don’t worry because you’ll either figure it out by self learning, or working with your colleagues, which was great.
LB: Completely on the same wavelength, there’s a really friendly atmosphere and I feel like CloudTrade cares about their employees and about everybody integrating together. The three of us were actually on a course the other evening run by a bigger company and it made me realise the opportunities we get working for a smaller company, working broadly across technologies rather than on something very specific.
AP: That’s all we have time for, thank you so much for spending the time to answer my questions and provide some insight into being a woman in our development team! I’ve really enjoyed my time with you today.
To our readers – thank you so much for tuning in to today’s blog. If you have any more questions for the women in our dev team, I would encourage you to contact them directly – you can find their contact details below. In our next installment, we will be talking with some of the women from our Operations team about their experiences here at CloudTrade!