Women in Technology

At Avature, there’s a special “be-who-you-want-to-be” type of air. Defining who you want to be can be challenging sometimes, but generally there are a few things that you know are part of your essence. In my case… well, for starters, I’m a woman, and I’m a Talent Acquisition Specialist for the Engineering area at Avature, which means my daily work includes sourcing and recruiting people to join the technical side of our company.

When I first joined the TA team, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the candidates who applied for engineering positions were men, and I had mixed feelings about that. Of course I met some wonderful men there, and some of them are already part of the A-team, but once you are inside the tech world, it’s impossible not to notice that it’s a male-dominated industry. From my personal standpoint, I think that’s unfair, but instead of feeling discouraged, I rather saw an opportunity to contribute and make a change from my own role in recruiting.

Every time I interview a woman for a tech role, it makes me feel happy and I try to add my two cents by motivating them to boost their potential and find their unique value. Throughout this last year, I met some wonderful women that taught me different things. I think that the one thing they all had in common is courage: they didn’t let fear take their willing and eagerness to pursue the career they wanted, and for that I admire them.

In this same line, and thinking about initiatives to keep inspiring and encouraging more women out there to join the tech world, we set up some interviews with women that work in engineering teams at Avature, who shared with us their paths, experiences, the challenges they faced, and also some pieces of advice based on their journeys.

Let’s hear what they have to say!

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When and how did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in technology?

Nadia Schachter, Developer: “I’ve liked technology ever since I was a little girl and a 386 computer arrived at home (I think I was in 4th grade). I began playing with the old Windows 3.0 video games and learning how to build .bat in DOS, so my sister could open any game without knowing how to do ‘cd’ or to execute .exe. Luckily, neither my parents nor anyone in my family ever told me it was ‘a boy’s thing.’ I left it aside for a while when I was in high school, but when I had to choose my career, I remembered my old love and I never regretted my choice.”

Micaela Herrera, Style Specialist: “I always liked technology in general. One day, I went to a friend’s home and saw he worked with a console full of numbers and colors, and that was when the interest began. He later taught me the basics of programming and, in my spare time, I started to learn the rest on my own. I made the most of every free resource on the internet, in forums, YouTube tutorials, and then, I went to an academy to take lessons.”

Julieta Dussaut, Technical Leader: “As a child, I was fascinated by various fields or careers; I finally decided on a career in technology due to the unlimited possibilities it offers. You can dedicate yourself to science, business, games, anything you can imagine. Working in technology is a rewarding career that allows you to learn new skills every day and never get bored.”

Victoria Costas, Custom Reports Manager: “When I finished high school, I didn’t know what to study next. A friend of mine told me about systems, the career he was studying, and when I told my dad about it, he said, ‘It is the career of the future’—this was back in 2003—and that motivated me right away. So, next thing I know, I’m signing up to study systems. What I did not know back then, was that it was the perfect career for me. The farther I went with my studies, the more I confirmed it.”

María Laura González, Integrations Analyst: “I decided I wanted a career in technology when I was half way into my translators course. At the time, I sought for advice and was told this was a men’s world and it would be too hard a journey for a woman. I finished my course of studies and after a few years, I got the opportunity to put a foot in a tech company in a commercial writing position and did my best there for five years, while working on tech projects on my own. Only after years did I feel entitled to ask for a mobility opportunity.”

Florencia Adela Yabra, Developer: “In high-school, we had to choose a specialty and computer studies was one of the options. I knew nothing about it, but I was interested in its subjects, so I went for it. During those three years, I had subjects like design, programming, and others about functional analysis, for example, and I realized I really liked them and found them exciting. When choosing a college career, I went down the same path: information systems of organizations. In my second year, I started working at Avature as QA, a role I had for three and a half years. Now I’m working as a developer and couldn’t be happier!”

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What unique challenges have you faced in your career in a traditionally male-dominated industry? How did you overcome them?

Cecilia Kraiselburd, Data Services & Analysis Manager: “Once I started studying engineering and through my first years working, I felt I had to prove everyone that I could do it, and that I could do it in spite of being a woman. I’ve always been shy and introverted, so making my voice heard was also a big challenge. I had to put myself out there more often than my male co-workers, but usually got heard half the time. Sometimes I got frustrated, other times just too anxious, but eventually, I had to learn where to put my energy and to choose my battles.

I think challenges never end, so I’m still working on some of them. At first, I felt I had to work twice as hard to get the same recognition than my male-teammates, but I eventually found good female role models inside the industry, who inspired me when things were too hard and I needed it. I also had very good friends and co-workers that helped me and made the extra effort worth it.”

Michelle Galit Rosenblat, Workflows Manager: “Before working at Avature, I was in the banking industry and I had a bad experience with a client who did not accept the answer I gave him because I was a ‘young woman.’ He escalated the situation to my superior and questioned my knowledge. Luckily, my whole team supported me asserting that, if I had come to that conclusion, it was because I knew what I was talking about.

Many times these totally unjustified situations make you want to give up, but it’s important to persevere.

On the other hand, in general, leadership positions in companies are often filled by men. This is something that, luckily, is slowly changing, but it is everyone’s responsibility that leadership does not belong to a single gender, but to the most suitable person for the role.”

Paula Andrea Saffioti, Technical Leader: “I think the hardest thing is having to put up with a lot of people who, for being a woman, think I won’t know how to do things, or that I will do them wrong.

For example, I recall being asked to explain something to a teammate, which I did. As soon as I finished, he went to double check the info I gave him with a guy from another team. Then, he came back and told me, ‘Don’t worry, I already validated with him that what you told me was right.’

In college, I also had to put up with a lot of misguided comments from men, who, since I was the only woman in class, felt entitled to tell me anything. Any kind of comments, even about my body and the way I dressed. They also reviewed the notes I took in class to criticize them and say they were silly notes.

In spite of these situations, I went on with what I really liked. I was not going to give up because of comments from people I came across. I also believe that society has been going through a process of deconstruction for a while—some people do it before others—and seeing that helped me to keep on going.”

Nadia Schachter, Developer: “In the first week of my first job as developer, I was asked to make some coffee—half joke, half true. With great fear, I refused, claiming I did not drink coffee and did not know how to prepare it. If it started like that, when was it going to stop? I had to put an end to it soon enough.

Although I’ve heard many ‘jokes’ like that one, which carried a bit of sexism too, I was lucky to be surrounded by excellent teammates and managers. I am not saying that they have all been the champs of feminism, but given the context (I have been in technology for more than 15 years), my teammates were not more sexist than average.”

Julieta Dussaut, Technical Leader: “I believe the biggest challenge is people doubting your knowledge, or constantly feeling your opinions are under a microscope just for being a woman. Luckily this is less common every day and the way to overcome it is simply to explain yourself: there’s nothing more beautiful than logic.”

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What advice would you give to other women who want to start pursuing a career in technology?

Vanesa Alessio, Integrations Services Manager: “I’d say it’s a wonderful career, but that they should have a lot of patience and self-love. Having to stay silent because you feel your words won’t be welcomed isn’t nice. But I believe that every woman has what they need to overcome these situations, be part of the conversation, and reach equity.

I hope future generations don’t have to face so many obstacles and that they can live in a more equal world. We are excellent for tech roles—don’t let anyone tell you the opposite. Don’t be afraid. Move forward. You’re not alone, we are more and more every day and we’re here for each other. I wouldn’t change a thing about my college choice or professional career. I would choose them again a thousand times!”

Carolina Galli, Product Engineering Leader: “Trust your capabilities and do what makes you feel happy and rewarded. Fall in love with your career, no matter if right now numbers indicate it’s a men’s task. That’s not true. We women are totally capable of doing it and even if there will be certain differences or uncomfortable situations, everything can be worked out and the more we are, the better! It’s truly rewarding to feel capable and to have a profession that motivates you, and I believe technology has a lot to offer in that sense.”

Lucila Lang, Developer: “I would tell them to follow their dreams. Although it’s an environment in which men have traditionally predominated, each day there are more and more women who join the tech world, and I think it’s really necessary, since diversity defines the quality of a work team.

Personally, I think it’s very important to let oneself be carried away by one’s motivations, rather than cultural preconceptions, because that’s what gives you the greatest satisfaction. I started my career driven by the idea of building technological solutions that would improve people’s life quality, which thankfully I was able to achieve. That wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t fought to reach my goals.”

Cecilia Kraiselburd, Data Services & Analysis Manager: “I’d say don’t give up. It’s a beautiful industry, full of opportunities and exciting challenges. Find good allies, they’ll help you weather the storms. Find female referents (they might not be in the spotlight, but they’re out there, for sure!). Be kind and empathetic—I strongly believe that most people are not bad; sometimes they just don’t know better. Talk to them and share your point of view, and before you know it, you’ll be part of the change we want to see for the future in the industry. It all gets better, and the reward of that extra effort makes it all worth it.”

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These are just some of the voices of the women who work in technology. There’s actually a huge community and it’s growing every day—I even joined it myself this year, when I got so inspired by the women around me that I started a programming course!

Now if you also got inspired and are thinking of joining the tech world, I wish that you never doubt your skills, that you raise your voice, and that you always believe in yourself. The journey can get tough, but it’s getting better as we go. We’re in this together, and this is only the beginning.