A female dev in a male-dominated industry - Joi Polloi

The technology industry, particularly coding, can often be male-dominated. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, we spoke to Ana, who is the FIRST female developer at our company. Ana joined us at Joi Polloi in September 2019 as a Junior Front-End Developer and has been doing some amazing work since then. We wanted to share Ana’s journey on becoming a developer and how it feels to work predominantly in a male dominated industry.

Have you always had an interest in developing?

My first interaction with personal computing was playing on my Dad’s computer and launching games via DOS. As a kid I wanted to move into game development, having clocked up countless hours on gameboys and playstation, but that didn’t seem like a feasible career path growing up.

This was an area I’ve always been interested in but never took the plunge into up until recently. I’d always worked in or around the technology sector, my first ‘proper job’ was as a graduate in the smart cities sector, I’ve also been a project manager and quality assurance tester, but I always pestered the developers about learning more about their side of job.

Ana, our first female developer

What inspired you to get into developing?

I just felt like it was time to take the plunge. I’d originally wanted to take Computer Science at A level, but was dissuaded from doing it as I didn’t have a STEM subject focus. Looking back at it now, I don’t think it would’ve mattered, and I should have taken the class anyway. I just loved the idea that you pressed keys that told a computer to carry out these incredible computations in 0s and 1s.

One of the pivotal figures in Computer Science is Grace Hopper, who I find to an inspirational figure. Her team created the first compiler for computing language, a compiler renders worded instructions into code that can be read by computers. The compiler would be a precursor for Common Business Oriented Language, or COBOL which was an early programming language.

What it’s like working predominantly in a male orientated industry?

I tend not to notice it as much, my first role out of university was at an engineering firm, so the ratio of male to female employees is similar to the tech industry. I think I notice the difference more when there’s a more even split of males and females. Also it’s something I’ve not noticed at Joi Polloi, there’s such a great environment amongst the development team I don’t think about it. Our development team is still predominantly male, but this could change in the future.

“I think more and more women are taking on technical roles, so hopefully that will change in the future.”

Django Girls Event

The Django Girls event is an ‘international non-profit organisation started by two Polish women, Ola Sitarska and Ola Sendecka, who want to inspire women from all backgrounds to get interested in technology’. I first took part in Django Girls two years ago and found it a quite intense weekend but overall a great experience. Especially dipping your toes into building something from scratch. It inspired me to continue learning more about development and was a great stepping stone for getting me started.

Last Friday I volunteered as a coach, as I wanted to help others get on their learning path, like I did. It was a huge success, though I wasn’t able to troubleshoot every issue that came up, but I did provide guidance and problem solving wherever I could. Although I’ve only been in a developing role since September, I have trained people in the previous roles. I found that a lot of skills and fundamentals that I’ve learned in Javascript are transferable to Python.