Doing what you love, isn’t it the result worth fighting for?
I’ve graduated from the Faculty of Applied Mathematics at the V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. I’ve been interested in exact sciences from school, my teachers turned me on to them. In high school, I even attended a course at the University (a special class for schoolchildren). I seriously dug into mathematics and wanted to connect my life with the STEM fields.
Studying Applied Mathematics at Karazin University was not easy. There was an equal number of girls and boys among the students of my year, and not everyone managed to graduate successfully. Many dropped out or transferred to other specialties. I would like to note that my coursemate girls demonstrated even greater resilience than the guys - they crammed, took exams again, proved that they were able and ready to learn and become proficient in this complicated specialty. The years at the university steeled me in some way, taught insistence, and promoted the desire to go the whole way, not to give up and achieve my goals, to try again and again if something does not work out.
There was a certain bias from some teachers at the university. There was even such a proverb that "a woman mathematician is neither a woman nor a mathematician." But in general, I did not meet any serious prejudices or discrimination: everyone was rated the same, and the requirements to everyone were equal. No excuses, even so, no one put a spoke in the wheels on purpose.
I came to IT by accident. More than 10 years ago, one of my friends, who worked as a Project Manager in an IT company, invited me to try myself in the field. Then the industry was just beginning to gain popularity, companies were actively growing and hiring a lot of people who were ready to learn. At first, I didn't like the idea. I was in my second year of studies, and it seemed to me that I needed to be just a student for a while, to focus on my education. Closer to graduation, I realized that this area is as close to what I would like to do in life as possible. Meanwhile, I tried myself in different roles: I was a mathematics tutor, a counselor in a summer camp, I worked as a barista in a coffee shop. According to the diploma, I am a mathematics and computer science teacher, but I never wanted to be a teacher at school. And the choice was made.
At first, I had to work hard and study a lot, but this was the industry, in which I saw my professional development. From the start it wasn’t easy, there were not so many courses and IT schools yet, everything had to be found and taken up on your own. Of course, there were friends, colleagues - who helped. My first job in IT was at a small company where HTMS / CSS development was one of the services provided to clients. For about six months I spent all my time in the office. The company had high requirements and strict deadlines, and since I didn’t have enough experience, I often had to stay after work - to finish what I didn’t manage, to redo what didn’t work.
I joined Sigma Software in 2015 and came to an HTML / CSS developer position, and now I am an HTML / CSS Competence Lead in our Design Department. I develop new directions and services, teach my colleagues, share knowledge, take part in conferences and internal events. And, of course, I participate in projects as a developer.
I see that more and more girls pursue careers in IT. It's great that girls are not afraid of such challenging technical specialties, although there are still more men in the exact sciences. It's hard to say why. Perhaps the girls do not believe in themselves, or maybe they don’t feel supported. Maybe they still believe in the stereotypes that a woman cannot make a good career in a technical profession.
I would recommend girls who face the professional choice to completely trust themselves and be ready to overcome certain difficulties. Don't give up, look for people who will understand and support you. Doing what you love, isn’t it the result worth fighting for?
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