(Front)Women in Power

Usually, the first thing that comes to mind at the sound of the word ‘programming’ is an image of a man sitting in front of a computer. However, contrary to the stereotype, IT is an industry where many skilled women — experts in their fields, who have both talent and passion for their job —found their place.

Women’s Day, which is also the day of publication of this article, is the perfect opportunity to once again give the floor to Infinity Group’s female specialists and invite them to share their experiences of working in IT.

Meet our girls

This time our interviewees are Ela and Ada, who are Front-End Developers at IG. The girls are at different stages of their lives and their careers have taken a slightly different path, so they have lots of insights about the ins and outs of working in the technology industry. We believe that with their stories they will inspire many readers dreaming of a career in programming.

The reason for this conversation is also a unique event that Ela and Ada will soon lead at the Bialystok University of Technology — a workshop for those ready to take their first steps in the world of front-end. We encourage you to carefully read the article and follow our social media, where we will soon share details about the planned event.

How did your IT adventure start?

Ela: I never imagined that I would work in IT, let alone become a Front-End Developer. I’ve always liked to draw and had a great talent for it. Once, a friend of mine who ran a company needed a graphic designer and proposed me a position. I later ended up at Infinity Group and those were my first steps in the industry — as a graphic designer. During those few years, I observed the work of my colleagues. I realised that the profession of Front-End Developer offered both the opportunity to create, as well as constant challenges and development, which ultimately led me to follow this path.

Ada: I entered IT somewhat both by accident and not necessarily. Computers have been with me all my life, and I have enjoyed spending time in front of them since I was very young. My first contact with programming and HTML was when I was a little girl, at a time when blogs were very popular. At the time, I started creating some templates for fun, but I didn’t think that this could be my future career path. When the time to choose a university came, I thought it might be worth going in that direction and chose Technical and Computer Education. I even created a website as part of my engineering work! I wanted to specialise in something specific, so I went for a postgraduate degree in front end and after that I ended up at Infinity, where I work till today.

What are your favourite aspects of working as Front-End Developers?

Ada: I really like that the results of our work are ‘tangible’. If there’s a go-live of a service or a functionality, it’s something we can show or boast about and it’s simply useful. Although my grandmother asks me all the time what exactly my job is and so far, I have not been able to explain it to her. Fortunately, I’ve come to terms with it now [laughs].

Ela: I agree with what Ada says. What’s great is that we can see the effects of our actions right away: when we start working on a project, we enjoy the fruits of our labour in real time. All the ideas, mock-ups and projects materialise with our help and become useful tools for the users — it’s a wonderful feeling. I also love working on things that are easy on the eye and aesthetically pleasing: it gives me huge satisfaction and proves to me that if I still appreciate nice things, I’m a graphic designer through and through.

Teamwork in IT is crucial. What challenges do you encounter in this matter and how do you deal with them?

Ela: It is well known that a team is a whole mix of different personalities and temperaments — but we work towards a common goal. When working as a team, various difficulties can arise, for example due to character differences or different approaches. I have found that communication — open and sincere — as well as empathy and respect are key to fruitful cooperation. Respect for the team member’s time and for them as a person.

Ada: I have a similar perspective — I would only add that, in my opinion, a lot depends on the person and whether they are an introvert or extrovert. Although to be honest, working remotely can make an introvert out of anyone, which I feel from my example [laughs]. I believe that, when working as a team, we have the chance to create big and interesting projects. It is worth remembering that there is strength in numbers — together we really can achieve more.

What impact have you had on your teams? Do you have any perspectives or experiences that you consider unique?

Ada: That’s a tough question because it’s difficult to define your own influence. In general, I feel I am an important part of all the teams I belong to. This can be indicated, for example, by feedback from a customer satisfied with our teamwork or the products we deliver to them. To me, such situations prove that the whole team is doing a good job — and everyone is an integral part of it. Besides, whenever someone is unreliable at work, it reflects on customer satisfaction.

Ela: Fortunately, I’ve never noticed anyone in the team not working in unreliable way — our teammates are always professional, which makes it much easier to work with people. In terms of our influence, I would say that we can inspire, motivate, come up with some solutions to problems. Not only do we bring our knowledge and experience to the table, but we also shape the atmosphere in the team, and this is a very important thing — for us to work well, to respect each other, sometimes to have a laugh. This way we can have fun: both from the work itself and from interacting with each other.

According to the Bulldogjob report1, in 2023 there were 82% of men and 18% of women working in IT. Do you think there is a need for more female representation in IT and, if so, what do you think can be done about it?

Ela: Certainly, girls should be encouraged to learn about science and technology. This is important for me because I have a school-age daughter myself and I can see the stereotype very well that boys are the ‘science-oriented’ ones and they go for technical subjects, while girls are more suited for humanities and art. This kind of thinking still exists and is reflected in youngsters’ choices. Perhaps a change in attitude will result in more girls at polytechnics and, consequently, also in the IT industry, where they will achieve successes. Nevertheless, this is currently a rather small percentage, as you can see in the report you referred to.

Ada: I honestly thought that these disparities would be smaller. In terms of whether there is a need for more female representation in the industry, I think that it has to happen naturally. If women want to enter IT and they feel comfortable in this world, then by all means they should enter it — with a bang even. I can see the need to talk about their achievements in the industry, but at the same time I think talented people are worth promoting regardless of what gender they are.

You have certainly encountered many professional challenges over the years in the industry. Is there a specific success or project that you find most rewarding?

Ada: It’s hard for me to pick one particular example, because I think any delivered project is a success, and it’s what we experience along the way that allows us to gain new insights. I think these upcoming workshops, but also any previous opportunities to share knowledge — whether in projects or internships — are also important achievements. We should be proud that we have something to share and that we have opportunities to do so.

Ela: I, on the other hand, had two such projects that I feel particularly proud of — two applications that we implemented as Infinity Group. What was special about these projects for me was that I worked on them on my own as a front-end developer — not having a back-up of people who could help in crisis moments. It was quite challenging, but also unique because I had the freedom to choose myself the technology to use. I like setting the bar high for myself, so I chose those quite advanced. Doing these projects required me to be creative, determined and — of course — technically skilled, and the amount of work done, mostly individually, really pushed me forward. When I saw them realistically online, I felt a great sense of pride and joy that I had delivered them in the way I did.

Working in IT demands constant improvement of one’s skills and being open to new challenges. What experiences have you had with continuous competence development in the technology field?

Ela: For me, this ongoing development in IT is not only a requirement, but also a pleasure. You need to continually expand your horizons and knowledge — this way you exercise your brain, which needs constant learning. I, for example, do this by attending various courses and sometimes by experimenting with new technologies, although this takes time. However, it gives me great satisfaction. In my opinion, the best way to grow is to work on difficult projects, because there is no better way to learn than practicing.

Ada: This is an interesting question for me. At first, I had a different perspective on it than Ela — I had to put it together in my head to understand that this industry never says ‘stop’ and you will have to keep growing. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s important to approach it calmly and positively, with the attitude that this is just a brain exercise. You can’t put pressure on yourself that you have to be the greatest at everything. It’s best to take courses, see what suits us, what we feel good about and go in that direction. Later on, there will come time for more advanced projects, which you should also approach as an opportunity for continuous development.

Ela: I often laugh that our work is like constantly chasing the rabbit. And the aim isn’t to catch it, it’s the chase itself.

Ada: Exactly. And at the beginning I was a bit scared that we would never catch this rabbit. But you have to chase it — as long as you do it without pressure.

Ela: It’s important to accept that this is simply the way it is in IT and to learn to enjoy what you’re doing. And as Ada said — don’t pressure yourself, because you will never learn everything from top to bottom. Especially since there are a lot of very strict specialisations in the front-end now — and it’s impossible to be an expert in everything. So, it’s best to pick something you enjoy doing and focus on that.

The workshop you will lead at the Bialystok University of Technology is approaching in big steps, but this is not your first time as mentors. What experiences have you had with it?

Ada: Ela and I had the opportunity to be mentors at a workshop held in Bialystok and its aim was introducing the participants to the world of JavaScript. We had a very nice time, we met fantastic girls and I remember this event very pleasantly. I won’t lie, there was a bit of stress and I’m sure it will be there now. We’re a long way from the ‘masters’, but these are really interesting experiences. I also had a few occasions to lead a front-end apprenticeship at our company: you could say that by taking on the role of mentor, I’m in a way ‘returning the favour’, as I was once an intern here myself.

Ela: I think it’s natural to stress — we want to give as much as we can, and we want to pass on as much knowledge as possible to the participants. It’s difficult to provide enough knowledge in a short amount of time to help someone fully master a subject. However, we want the person who comes to us for such an event to have the feeling that they can do it — that they can learn it and go down that path. I would also like to emphasise that, for me, being a mentor is not only about sharing knowledge, but also about the chance to learn from each other. I, for one, benefit from such situations by improving my communication skills – and these are very important in our industry. Contrary to what you might think, a developer doesn’t spend their days slapping together code in solitude, but works in teams, often with the client too. I think events like this are fantastic — by teaching someone, I personally learn the most. In addition to workshops, I happen to run internal training sessions in our company, which has given me further experience in this area.

If you were taking your first steps in IT today, what advice would you give yourself? What would you like to hear from others?

Ela: I would tell myself to first of all be patient and determined. In my opinion, that is the key to success. And from others I would like to hear: “you can make it”.

Ada: That’s what I wanted to say! “Have more faith in yourself”. At the beginning of my journey, I heard these words very often, although I didn’t say them to myself. And they were often said by women who motivated me and reassured me that I would succeed.

Ela: It’s true! The case with girls is that they are often extremely supportive — at least I had that feeling that we could count on each other. And not only girls who are developers, but also project managers or testers. I feel that such a positive attitude prevails among women.

We would like to thank the girls for this interview and the work they put into organising the upcoming workshop. There is no doubt that women like them bring a lot to the IT industry — so we hope that their insights and experiences will encourage all those who are considering working in the technology field to follow this path. 

The aforementioned workshop led by the girls will take place soon at Bialystok University of Technology. We will be announcing the details on social media — so please keep an eye on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram!

  1. Raport z Badania Społeczności IT 2023 (bulldogjob.pl) ↩︎

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