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Paving the way for more women In tech

By Lourie Contaoe,
User Acquisition Manager
January 18th 2018

Women in tech—there aren’t that many of them, let’s face it. In fact, they hold only about 33% of computing jobs. And that’s only the percentage of non-leadership roles. When we look closer at the percentage of female IT leaders (such as CIOs, chief technology officers, or vice presidents of technology) the number remains at a low 9 percent. That compares to 34% of female leaders in the finance and professional services, and only 16% in hardware and telecom. But what steps can we all make to move female representation in tech? In this first series , we had the chance to sit down with one of our empowering Software Developers, as well as Ladies Learning Code mentor, Lilia, to discuss her journey in tech and how she made her way in the field of development.

What brought you to tech?

It was a little by chance, but I was in University at a very young age. Towards the end of the 90’s in Algeria, my native country, people began to understand the importance of computing and wanted to domesticate this new wave of communication and how to do it. My math skills led me to computer science. As it was a new discipline, computing had never been part of my dreams, but seeing the enthusiasm of my teachers, my parents, and the people around me convinced me that it was the cool thing to do. Very quickly I found that not only the logical side fascinated me, but the artistic side as well. I like to tell myself, even today, that every programmer is an artist: We don’t write the same code structures, and the codes reveal the logic of each one. One even uses words such as philosophy or architecture to design different ways of organizing or executing one's logic of coding.

What are some of the challenges you faced?

Mainly financial because to study computer science, you must at least have your own computer, ideally a laptop. Otherwise, you have to spend all your time at the university or school to do your work and to feed your curiosity - a bit like any other major. I still remember the first computer I bought, or the first time I had Internet connection at home. These little events happened as we were learning how to make new programming languages, mini software or games. In the early 2000s, I was clearly living the technological boom at two different speeds.

We can’t deny the challenges that were faced. When I look back, during my early years as a student in France, I found intimidating the fact that there were mainly men who studied Computer Science. I was shy and foreign to the cultural world, so having to go through groups of men to access the classroom was challenging. Of course, I made friends, which made me feel like I belonged. All the students who attended the computer labs eventually became a single group.

What do you like most about your work?

Definitely the logical challenges. It often happens that we have to redo the same code, or apply the same logic, but what is exciting in my field is that the technology continues to renew itself. That’s something that completely frightened me when I was young. I remember one of my first teachers who told us during his first class: “If you continue in computer science, get ready to remain a student your whole life”. I was 16 and I did not want to be a student forever, but at the dawn of my 36 years, I see things differently. We do not have time to get bored and we bring solutions that conjugate with time and we play with the latest technologies. I work with people of all ages, from all backgrounds. I find myself dealing with clients and colleagues with completely different needs and it excites me a lot.

Join Ladies Learning Code on January 20th at district m for their session on jQuery. Register today!

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