Women need to overcome their fears of failure

My family has many engineers: my grandfather, my dad, my uncle had technical education. When the time came to choose a profession, it wasn’t a question of what I want to do in my life. There were no prejudices among my relatives, no one believed that a girl could not handle a technical specialty. Moreover, I have always liked STEM, although I did not come to them right away.

I began my studies at a school which specialized in learning French. After studying there for several years, I realized that I do not know the exact sciences. Thanks to my parents who helped me to understand what I was really interested in, I decided that I need to fill this gap. Nearby my parents' house there is a large technical university - Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics. There are a variety of courses, and starting from the 7th grade, I began to attend classes there. First, I took the "Young Programmer" course, then I completed the “Computer Design” course. Closer to my school graduation, I went for a two-year preparatory classes, where I intensively studied mathematics and physics. A university teacher took notice of me and recommended me to join a group called “Scientific Society”, where I not only took a preparation for the university but also I was supposed to conduct my first scientific research and defend it.

In short, when the time came for me to enter the university, there weren’t any problems with passing the exams, neither during my studies. I have chosen the specialty "Software Engineering of Automation Systems". From my 3rd year of studying, I began to work in my specialty. After that I graduated with a Master’s Degree, Ph.D. in Information Security, and later obtained a diploma in Management of Organizations.

I have been involved in Software Development for over 15 years. My current technology is JavaScript, although over the years I have tried different directions. Over the last 7 years, I have been taking the position of Tech Lead, and now I am a Software Architect.

Besides, 4 years ago I started teaching at my university, though, another specialty. I started with Embedded Development, now I teach two subjects: Cloud and Neural Networks. Now the Artificial Intelligence course together with the University of Hannover is on the run. For me, teaching is not only communication with young people and transferring knowledge to them, but also the opportunity to stay in the scientific environment to defend a doctoral thesis in the future.

Since my graduation, the number of girls in tech studies hasn’t increased that much. In 2002, when I began to study, among 25 people in the group there were only 2 girls. Today there is approximately the same insignificant percentage. Although today's girls are more confident and know their rights as students better, apparently, the prejudice that STEM is not for women is still alive. Maybe among the girls there is an opinion that the technical specialty is incredibly difficult, and it is not even worth trying.

These internal blocks are worth fighting. As for me, I did not feel prejudices in the university during my studies from anyone - neither from classmates nor from teachers. The requirements and the attitude were equal. This is how I treat my students today, regardless of gender. Knowledge, efficiency, talent - that's what matters.

The same applies to the working environment, healthy companies pay attention to professionalism, not gender. However, I can’t deny that sometimes you feel that if you're a girl, you need to work harder to get the same attitude as male team members. More than once I heard from quite tolerant people: "Before I met you, I did not think that a woman could be a developer."

Nevertheless, today I am working on a project where the situation is quite different. On some meetings up to 80% of developers are girls. Of course, this is still rather an exception, but the number of girls in technical professions is gradually growing.

If we want this process to go faster, women need to overcome their fears of failure, the opinion that they are not as good as men, and that STEM is too difficult.

When choosing a future profession, it is important to ask yourself: where do you see yourself in 10 years in a professional perspective? What do you enjoy? What are you interested in? What work would make you get up in the morning? If you are interested in writing programs or solving equations, then you should go for it. Everyone has some difficulties on the way, such as external influence or public opinion. But these are temporary factors that will eventually pass. What will remain is your profession; that is why it is so important to enjoy it. I believe that it is impossible to realize oneself and achieve success in an unloved profession.


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