My first experience in the tech sphere I got 10 years ago by working as an HR specialist. It was a small but very promising IT company that was building a breakthrough product. The team consisted entirely of men, so I was the first and only girl in the team.
Let’s face the truth: it wasn’t easy to blend into the team: as I was just starting to gain experience in IT, there were gaps in my knowledge, which my colleagues helped to fill. However, the process of education was rather painful: the guys treated me with a certain scepticism, and it seemed that they weren’t of the persuasion that I could learn the necessary skills and be on a par with the best IT HR. Colleagues snickered at me and sometimes joked that a woman and high technology are incompatibles.
In addition, in the IT community, there was a certain prejudice about how a specialist from the tech world should look, and I didn’t quite fit into this pattern. This added fuel to the fire: one of the project founders often noted at general meetings that I wasn’t very suitable for work in the tech world.
At that time I decided that I would fight, gain the necessary experience and achieve success. Judging my zeal on its merits, the guys began to treat me with respect and helped with my education more willingly. When talking about complex technical processes, they used simple and easily understood phrases. For example, the guys explained what cache was through the example of jars of jam in the cellar.
Thanks to the combative mood and hard work, I achieved cool results in a short time. Not only my colleagues noticed my professional growth, but also the candidates: during interviews they often noted a good technical back up and sometimes thought that I was working as a programmer and not as HR.
10 years later…
Today I am the head of the international IT recruitment agency Lucky Hunter https://luckyhunter.io/en, as well as the head of the IT project for startups Zero2Hero http://en.zero2hero.ru/. Having achieved such success in my career, I no longer see a biased attitude from the representatives of the IT community. On the contrary, working with the Lucky Hunter team, men respect our professionalism, highlighting deep knowledge of recruiters of complex technical processes.
In addition, the informal style that we adhere to at work causes interest from clients and candidates: if earlier my look was more likely to hinder me in my work, today it’s one of the powerful tools of our team 🙂
Nevertheless, there are cases when candidates or clients don’t take our work seriously, and sometimes they try to cheat while working with us. For example, there was a case when a client spoke to me fairly sarcastically and sneeringly answered my clarifying technical questions. It seemed that he doubted my professionalism because I am a girl.
During the conversation, we discussed that we needed to make amendments in the contact, but in the end, he didn’t make them, because he thought that I wasn’t going to study the contract. I had to redo the originals of the document and maintain my position in the conversation with the client. By the way, this story made the client reconsider his opinion about girls in the tech world, and today we keep strong partnerships.
There was another story: I recently received an email, stating that women don’t fit the IT industry. This is a rare case, but it shows that some bias against girls in IT still exists.
To sum up:
Being a woman in IT is interesting and inspiring if you are well-versed in what you are doing, have a “virile” character and are able to stand your ground.
Most often, there is no gender segregation and bias against girls in the IT-sphere. There is a bias against knowledge. But nevertheless, if you are a beginner in IT and relate to the stronger sex – it will be a little easier for you to make it to the pros and achieve success than for a girl.
After you’ve achieved success in IT and proved that you are a professional in your field, you can breathe a sigh of relief: working with men-IT specialists is easy and pleasant.
Tatiana Melnichuk is the Founder and the Head of the international IT recruitment agency Lucky Hunter. For more than 12 years she’s been recruiting staff for IT companies all over the world, holds lectures and training courses. She knows how to recruit the best tech specialists, where to find them and how to motivate a tech talent to accept the offer even if there are no attractive perks and high salary. On the basis of the agency, Tatiana has launched a tech project Zero2Hero. The project is aimed to help startups launch their products faster and easier by building rapid product prototypes by efforts of a team of junior developers.