Mujeres de colores representando a la mujer tech

#Shetechie. Women in Tech

Technology has always been an equalizing and separating factor in equal measure. And the tech sector, the standard bearer of digitalization, is a clear example of this. We talked to women in tech who have experienced the gender gap in a world that, until recently, was 100% male.

Think of a computer professional. Series and mass culture have led us to think of the typical freak, geek, nerd, who programs from the basement of his parents’ house and is able to hack even NASA. But, in most cases, you’ll think of a man. And don’t worry, it’s not your fault you don’t think of a woman in tech.

Perhaps it is to blame that, for every 100 Europeans working in the tech sector, there are only 20 women. Or that the gender pay gap is almost 9%. Maybe it starts earlier, as there are only 19% of women graduates in ICT specialties.

So… Is this sector equal to the rest? Carmen Delgado, Adoptium Community Manager at the Eclipse Foundation and mentor at Step4ward, believes that “work-life balance and equal opportunities are more advanced in our sector. There is a long way to go, but there are enough allies, especially I see a lot of women in technology movement that allows us to create community and support”.

We have drawn from this community at Joppy. They speak, because they are the ones who have lived in their code what it is to be a tech woman.



This article would not have been possible without the aforementioned Carmen Delgado and the rest of our tech colleagues who have given us their time and experience. Thanks to:
Mavi, Team Lead and moderator at BCNEngineering
Henriette Hettinga, Project Manager at CodeWomen
Isabel Garrido, Senior Back End Developer
Wendolín Damián, Tech Lead at Devoteam Spain and partner at AdaLoveDev
Berta Devant, IOS developer and director of Women Who Code Barcelona
Lizz Quinteros, Platform Engineering Lead
And thanks to all the anonymous women who have answered our survey to learn more about the reality of the tech world.

Women in tech, work-life balance and equal opportunities

Work-life balance is the compatibility of work and personal life through different strategies and organizational agreements between workers and companies. This concept is often combined with the concept of the second shift (all those tasks that are performed outside work). It is known that women are the main responsible for it, so work-life balance is usually focused on them. Is it enough?

“Only 54% of women in the tech sector, according to the State of Gender Equity in Tech think their company takes active steps to combat inequality” Henriette Hattinga

According to our own data, half of the women think that there is still a long way to go in this sector, while 16% say categorically that the sector is no more advanced than others in terms of equal opportunities. In Mavi’s words, “It is very hard to be a minority profile in this sector. We have to be careful not to fall into doing more hours and getting paid less than our colleagues in a similar position. It is also very noticeable in negotiations, both as an interviewer and when I have negotiated a salary”.

Equal pay, equal opportunities… and equal chances for promotion. The glass ceiling is also present in the tech world. According to El Español, 72% of R&D departments are headed by men. What needs to be done to break the glass ceiling? Berta Devant is clear: “Things will not change until there is a change in everyone. It is not the task of women to enter the industry and break the glass ceiling. Teams have to realize the problem they have if there are no diverse teams. It’s time to be critical of themselves”.

Women in tech in a male-dominated industry

This work by all is necessary in IT. When 4 out of 5 tech workers are men, they must be allies and advocates for diversity and equal opportunity.

Entering such an XY sector is no easy task. Berta tells us that she psyched herself up for it “knowing that I wasn’t alone, separating my life from my work. I know when to leave and use my privilege so that other women don’t have to repeat my path”.

Wendolín Damián was not initially aware of this feature of the sector. When she became aware of it, it was also from the perspective of age because “the fact that I am a woman and look younger than I am plays against me, because it is assumed that I have a lower rank or less knowledge. And constantly demonstrating what you know is very tiring”. Isabel Garrido was also slow to realize the “failures” of the tech sector. “It took me a while to realize that, sometimes, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to achieve the same as other colleagues just because I was a woman. I ended up exhausted from doing my job and also exposing my difficulties”. Fortunately, as we tell you below, she had a support network with whom she could talk about all this.

All is not lost. Wendolín and Isabel, like many others, agree that people talk more about work-life balance and equal opportunities. It is a debate on the table.

Techie’s references

Wendolin. On the one hand, there are many female references but well hidden in history: Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, “Steve” Shirley or Hedy Lamarr. Also women of today, closer to me: Inés Huertas, Carmen Ansio, Alexandra Rivero, Gema Socorro… I could name many more people and I would not finish.
Isabel Garrido. I am lucky to have had several women who have inspired me a lot: Diana Aceves, Elena Torró, Laura Lacarra… my last mentor has been Annyce Davis and I sincerely believe that Mavi, although she is my boss, also mentors me a lot.

Is the tech sector shifting to diversity?

Hints of this question have been answered before. Our “Women In Tech” report says yes, but there is still a long way to go.

Wendolín takes an optimistic and moderate view of the issue. She believes that “the sector is changing for the better, albeit slowly: companies are drawing up equality and work-life balance plans and are doing their best to make them a reality. And above all, I have met many “allies”: people who, from their privileged position, do their best to make the situation visible”.

Lizz Quinteros also speaks of the great step taken by women “willing to take action for the new generations, without fear of denouncing mistreatment or micromachismos that can be generated in the workplace”. She emphasizes the value of education from a young age. “I think we can still continue to work much more, especially in education in schools, I think it is essential to talk to girls about STEM and the examples they can see in society”.

These are some of the “to check” of the companies that should be applied. But there is more, much more.

Safe spaces in the tech sector

Throughout the article you will have read the words: support networks, community, safe spaces… they are all ways of expressing the need for a group where tech women can share, meet and help experiences like yours. These are some of the ones techies have shared with us.

BCNEng. Mavi tells us that it is “a place with lots of information and opportunities and above all with an openly feminist staff”. Its differentiating element is found in the various slack channels that deal with different topics. It’s time for their voice to be heard here too.

CodeWomen. A support community for migrant women in the IT world. In the words of Henriette Hettinga, “focused on empowering and encouraging women in tech”. She was the driving force behind the project in 2020.

Step4ward. Carmen Delgado is a member and mentor of this movement that defines itself as a “group of mentors with experience in the tech sector in Spain who want to help women to follow their professional path in IT”.

AdaLoveDev. Inspired by the famous programmer, it is a community that wants to give visibility and empower women in the technology sector. Wendolín also tells us about the AdaLoversConf, “an annual event where all the speakers identify themselves as women and we have made a great effort to make it a safe place”.

Support messages for the women in tech of the future

Carmen Delgado: “Do it. It is a long and rocky road like any other, but you have to take advantage of the sense of community that can be generated and the support you can have, I see that it is a more open world to share knowledge, experience and information. Of course you’re going to run into money men and women along the way but you learn from that too”.

Henriette Hettinga: “go for it, it is a great career with a good salary, nice office, usually hybrid, and coding is fantastic: fascinating, always challenging , always evolving. If you don’t want to get beaten down, then find a supportive group around you, find your ‘tribe’ to get help and encouragement”.

Lizz Quinteros: “I would encourage you to follow a path of continuous challenges without fear to enjoy technology, where every day you work to be better in every aspect. I remember a comment from a professor who said: you have to be better than the rest, because you are going to encounter many obstacles”.

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