Imágenes de mujeres representando la diversidad de la mujer programadora

On support networks for women programmers… by Step4ward

The gender gap in the tech sector is, although less pronounced than in other sectors, just as palpable. Not only in salaries: in esteem, in quantity, in future projection. There are as many unresolved issues as in other areas. Having mentors, support networks of tech women, is vital for diversity to enter the sector’s code.

There have been great women programmers in history: Ada Lovelace, famous for her work with the analytical machine; Grace Hopper, soldier in World War II and first to develop a compiler for a programming language; Hedy Lamarr, actress and co-inventor of a version before wifi; or Margaret Hamilton, great promoter of the universal systems language. What about the current references, the current female programmer who wants to guide others on their way through IT?

We have left the control of Joppy’s blog to Step4ward, a support network of women in tech, to tell us about the importance of these initiatives.

Step4ward is a group of volunteers (13 mentors and 10 collaborators) that help women who are starting out in the tech sector or want to make a career change, specifically in Spain and in Barcelona. You can read their biographies here. The two representatives of this movement who have written this article are:
Carmen Delgado, Project Management expert and LinkedIn Reviewer, and is usually the first point of contact for the organization.

Isabel Garrido, Backend, currently Senior Backend at Seat:Code and with experience also in frontend.

What is a support network for women programmers?

Carmen: We want to create an ecosystem where these women who are making a career change, or starting out, feel secure and see the value of belonging to something.

Isa: For me it means having a group of people I can go to and share how things that happen to me on a daily basis make me feel. When I started there were many things that were normalized. Nobody said anything, and we, as women just wanted to fit in.

Carmen: I also want them to know that they can come to us or to other monitored colleagues whenever they have a doubt or want to take on a new challenge.

Isa: What I want is that people who are starting in tech or have been in tech for a long time can turn to us and understand that we have all been there and that it is normal to have doubts, fear, feel bad or feel alone. Also, if we all help each other a little bit, things go better.

A little more about… Step4ward

It started in 2021 as an idea within the BCN ENG community with 4 mentors.
Its process is voluntary, and consists of a remote communication work with a couple of sessions (email, slack, video call), where 64 mentorees have passed through.
They have participated in conferences such as JBCN Conf (now DevBCN), in the International Women’s Day organized by WTM Barcelona, in their own webinar…
They focus on women starting out in the tech sector, changing sectors or coming from a bootcamp. Although they also work with people who start through higher education or, being in the sector, want to redirect their career.

Benefits of support networks

Carmen: The best way to learn is to teach, being a mentor allows you to:

  • Meet more people and share your experience
  • Keep up to date with market needs
  • Approach solutions in a different way, taking into account the needs of the new people who come to be part of the sector.
  • Unify doubts and be able to solve them in a better way.

For the mentees, being in a support network allows them to:

  • To feel supported and in company
  • Talk to people who have already been through this process
  • Get to know the dynamics of the sector, different from where they come from.
  • Gain peace of mind and relief to keep moving forward in their goal.

The future of the female programmer… in the world of programming

Carmen: I would like the industry to be more egalitarian and inclusive. More women in leadership positions that allow for diverse decision making without being in the spotlight. How does a support network contribute to this goal? Our contribution is the process of accompanying women who are considering entering the sector, especially considering that for now many are abandoning it or switching more to the management side of technology companies.

Isa: I wish we had normalized that women also belong to this sector, that there were no technical teams without any female developers and that it would not be so surprising to see groups of women in technical events.

Carmen: That’s why we encourage any female programmer to contact any support group for women in tech. There are more and more every day, and that makes less women feel alone, meet more people and develop a sense of community.

Isa: We are here to lend a hand, in the best way possible and with all the means at our disposal. When you see things alone sometimes they seem worse than they are but with the help of a support network the problems are better handled and you have a diversity of points of view that you wouldn’t have if you didn’t have access to them.

We are looking for mentees in Barcelona and/or Spain. If you are interested, you can contact us by filling out the form: 

Interesting links

Step4ward mentors have shared their vision and ideals on social media before. See for example these posts on Twitter:

Other support networks: AdaLoveDev

We talked to Wendolín Damián about a support network that emerged in the Canary Islands.

AdaLoveDev is a non-profit community formed by women technologists whose goal is to give visibility and empowerment to women in the tech sector. Our name is a tribute to Ada Lovelace, considered the person who wrote the first computer program, and the love for development.

Currently our community collaborates by giving talks in schools and institutes to bring female ICT references to the classrooms as well as giving talks at technology and outreach events. In addition, every month we organize our meetups (face-to-face and online) and #AdaSessions, which are monthly talks and workshops to improve our skills thanks to our speakers in a safe space.

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