Three software developers and one software developer sat down with La Compiladora to reflect on what it means to be a woman in software development. Is there a gender gap in these professions?
Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 at 12:03:53 PM
Today, Friday October 29, surrounded by chestnuts, we launch Desprogramando a space for reflection where we will accompany you in different debates and interviews about technology, equity and inclusion of socially vulnerable groups in this world. In our first episode Being a woman in the world of software development we have been able to sit down with Raquel Rius, Patricia Mateos, Mavi Jiménez and David Reyes, three software developers with different backgrounds and profiles because, as Guillermo says Blasco “ the paths to development are mysterious ” to talk about what it has meant for them to be in software development. In this round table we have focused on three blocks: presentation and personal motivations for wanting to be in this profession, gender issues and current actions to alleviate the gender gap.
As for the first block, we have discovered all the members. Raquel, backend developer at Caravello, is a mathematician who started as a data scientist and who today declares herself to be “ programming flawed ”. Patricia, a frontend developer at Bloobirds, had many doubts when she left high school and spent a lot of time in front of the computer, she decided to enter a sector in which she saw that there were many job opportunities. David, backend developer at Devo, when he finished high school he had good grades in science and was recommended the technology field, he started his career and discovered that he liked it. Mavi, senior backend developer at Seat: Code, they wanted her to be a doctor but she wanted to study fine arts and since this career had not reached Murcia, she got into computing and after having tried to quit computing: she came back... The creation of structures that allow imminent changes, the job offer, being able to be within a sector that touches different sectors in which you can specialize in what you like the most, the effort that is reflected in something physical, work in team and joint sacrifice and the fact of being considered technically good / or are the reasons that have led the protagonists of the episode to want to continue being part of the world of software development. As for the second block, all people have agreed that there is a gender gap in this profession. They have met few women throughout their career but consider that the trend is changing. Raquel, for example, says that she recently did a postgraduate degree and met more girls than boys. Mavi explains that in her company there are 60% women on her team but she confesses that it is because she can hire and make these decisions. In addition, he highlights the importance of working with references and guaranteeing comfort, as he says "a junior girl, alone, is easier to choose a company where there is a person in whom she can reflect." David, shares that he has recently been doing interviews and that most of the interviewers for the technical part are men. He reflects on the barrier that can be created between a woman and a male technical interviewer and considers that this factor should be worked from recruitment, which can restrict the person interviewed. The importance of more women assuming decision-making roles is effervescent among all the participants and the need is raised that “ there are more seedy women in high positions *”, understanding by “seedy woman” that woman who is not perfect and that he is also wrong. They agree that the lack of female representation in these positions is evident and that stereotypes have power to stop this representation. In addition, they also share that obligation of having to demonstrate twice their knowledge related to technology in order to "belong" to this sector. Raquel explains that throughout her life she has seen how from education there was that gender differentiation in terms of explaining technology "* in class, all the technological part was expected to be boys who would dominate all that and if it was a woman perhaps he was not expected to be interested or knowledgeable ”. When asked what would happen if only men were dedicated to technology in a growing technological age, Mavi energetically responds: “then when a woman goes into space they ask her if she needs 150 tampons (1)” [.. .] " Having little diversity makes you have shitty products *" and Patricia defends that "* diversity enriches what you are doing, enriches the product, enriches relationships, .. We all have something to contribute from who we are *" . David remembers again how interviews are worked in which there is the “Cultural” section and comments “* sometimes you get the feeling that what they are looking for is a person who already works there with that group and I tell myself that I'm not like that, why don't I fit into your group? ". To all this, Mavi responds that managing a diverse group is difficult. Entering the field of reflecting on digital rights, a set of examples come out such as the soap dispenser that does not work with black people (2), the facial detector that recognizes black people as primates (3) and the ASCII code based in English (4). Regarding the third block on the actions that we can take at present to alleviate the gap, they have highlighted the role of women in high positions, the conscious effort to break stereotypes, to study the problems that women have to enter the world of development, to sponsor women in the world of development, to be aware that women do worse interviews because as Mavi says “ they tend to be less freaked out *”, to know the needs and problems that exist and not deny them. In addition, the position taken by many companies in the pipeline theory comes to light: "* If there are 30% women in college, where is your 30% *?" Mavi answers and returns to the importance of references. Then, Raquel joins in and also comments on the importance of referents in the university "* we are going to encourage that there is also a higher proportion of women in the teaching staff *" and also defends that on a personal level in the face of family and friends "* Let's try to curb the concept of: no to this person, no, I have to tell someone else * "and Patricia complements it with" * forcing our mind so that this person can be everything she wants to be ". The last question from Guillermo about how they would like to see their work 15 years from now, Patricia responds that she hopes to see a much more diverse team and that women are valued without having to make twice the effort. Mavi raises her voice and tells us that she hopes " to see more Ayusos in computing, that they are a bit crappy *" and she says that she would like to "* start to be frowned upon that they harass us, that they want to kick us out of the industry , .. *. " and Patricia comments that they have come to ask her if she wants to be a mother until Mavi jumps with her * "that's what I defend is lying, lying but very strong [...] in the face of such illegal questions, because the right to lie like a rogue * ”. Raquel ends with the importance of having women in high positions and David comments that many women are working on this change and that "* they are working on it ". To conclude, from La Compiladora we want to thank this great table of reflection in which all the participants have contributed different colors and tones, assuming that there is a gender gap in this industry, that work is being done on it and that more and more is going reducing and the importance of remaining aware of the possibility of actions that can be taken to further minimize it. Bibliographic references: (1) Castillo, G. (2021, April 16). 100 tampons in space: NASA's question to Sally Ride. Spaghetti Code. https://codigoespagueti.com/noticias/ciencia/100-tampones-en-el-espacio-la-pregunta-de-la-nasa-a-sally-ride/ (2) Fussell, S. (2017, August 17). Why can't this soap dispenser identify dark skin? Gizmodo. https://gizmodo.com/why-cant-this-soap-dispenser-identify-dark-skin-1797931773 (3) BBC News. (2021, September 6). Facebook apology as AI labels black men "primates". BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-58462511