Q&A with some of Godel’s women in tech
International Women’s Day came and went on March 8, 2019 – but for Godel Technologies, women – especially women in tech, are pivotal to the organisation all year round. The company boasts 52% women in management positions and employs many women in its software development centres of excellence.
We put some questions to Anastassia Davidzenka, VP of professional services at Godel – herself a formidable member of the management team. Now living in Manchester and working from Godel’s head office, Anasstasia grew up and was educated in Minsk, Belarus, and received a Master of Arts (M.A) Hons, Linguistics from Minsk State Linguistic University. She makes interesting comparisons between the cultures in Belarus and the UK.
Business Analyst professional Elena Prilutskaya and Quality Assurance Engineer Anastasya Tarasevich also answered questions on women in tech. Elena and Anastasya both live and work in Manchester for some of Godel’s clients; Sorted and Dunnhumby. They both grew up in Minsk and studied Specialist Information Technology and Economics at Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics.
What piece of advice would you give to your 18-year-old self about starting a career in technology?
[AD] Do not be afraid – it is not an industry only open to technical gurus – a lot of things can be solved with common sense and logic.
[EP] Do what you love, and you will be successful, despite what everyone in the world may think.
[AT] Don’t be afraid to do anything, you will be successful if you believe in yourself and work hard.
What do you read everyday/week/month to keep up to date with your industry?
[AD] I follow quite a few technology leaders on LinkedIn so it’s quite interesting to see what they post. I also sometimes read www.computing.co.uk
[EP] I read/watch different articles and news across different social media such as YouTube. It makes sense to socialise and know what your colleagues read/watch and visit, so you always know about the latest news and technologies and conferences.
[AT] I read lots of articles from technology websites such as Computing. My nice colleagues also share some interesting material with me.
How can women ensure their career progression?
[AD] Absolutely the same as men – work hard and learn new things.
[EP] We all just need to believe in ourselves and value our skills. In terms of salary there should be no differences if you know to research the average pay in advance. You should take initiative and not be afraid to ask for what you deserve.
[AT] Same as men, work hard.
What sort of culture should organisations be fostering if they want to attract females?
[AD] I think the principles of a workplace to attract talent should be the same regardless of gender. It should provide enough challenges, offer a true sense of ownership over your work, and make you feel empowered to change things if you can think of a better way to do them. Your achievements should also be recognised.
[EP] I think companies should choose the right words in their campaigns and job vacancies, I think using masculine words may put women off and think that it isn’t the right place for them. Also, I think companies need to be more flexible. In many cases women are responsible for children, and it does take time to care for them, so a flexible schedule would be much more attractive to mothers. The rest is up to a certain individual to decide what they want to do and what sort of place to work.
[AT] The best sort of company culture for me would be organisations supporting equality in everything they do.
What do you think are the top reasons for having so few women in tech in the UK?
[AD] I am surprised how little girls are often stereotyped – encouragement begins early and it’s important that young children are shown the possibilities. I see many teenage girls interested in fashion, makeup and how they look. My own 17-year-old son’s friends want to move into beauty-related professions or retail and banking/finance jobs that are still very popular as future careers. I think they are seen as more glamorous than anything related to IT and engineering. I don’t think the girls are pushed hard enough to believe in themselves and be better in maths and physics, and do not see it as a contradiction to being feminine and taking pride in their looks – of course it is important for any teenager and woman!
[EP] I think the main reasons are probably down to the wrong understanding of the role and the responsibilities we have. Plus, I don’t think people are aware of the types of projects that go on.
[AT] Maybe women think its too “techy” … I honestly do not know, I think it’s a great profession. But of course, it depends on someone’s personality.
What should we be doing more of to attract women into tech?
[AD] I am against any positive discrimination – it is still called discrimination for a reason! I think the industry is gradually getting rid of a stigma of being male-dominated and more and more women will see it as a viable option for their career. Also, IT offers a lot of jobs with flexi-hours and ability to work from home, which is important for many women with families.
[EP] To explain that tech companies and roles aren’t only coding, but there are lots of other positions. I think the responsibilities of positions need to be described better. I think women are very good at building the inter-company relationship, so they are good in management roles and jobs that include lots of communication. Also, it is important to know and understand what you as an employee can bring to improve the world, to value even simple tasks, as they are part of the big mechanism. Understanding the value of your work makes you attractive to companies but equally companies valuing their staff is important for them to attract new talent and retain the talent they already have.
[AT] I think we all need to spread the word of how great it is to work in IT. Maybe a good place to start would be in schools – encouraging young people, especially young girls.