Having said that, we do admit that getting to where we are now presented some challenges. Problems started right after graduation. Our families wanted us to think of a career in administration. They also imagined we’d settle in Teheran. We both have siblings and they work in banks. With our bachelor’s degrees we could have easily landed in a bank. We hated this idea.
We had this clear picture in our heads: .NET! After a series of unsuccessful job interviews, we started some serious learning. For about two years we passed all our weekends at private courses, studying to get the qualifications we were after. And all that time we fought our parents who still refused to accept our choices. After having completed the weekend courses, the IT job market was ours: we even had the luxury of getting picky about our prospective jobs.
Why did we go for programming in the first place? It’s a very creative field. It may appear otherwise, but you get to use all your creativity while working on a project. It really gets you thinking. Another thing is, you always do something new and see the results immediately. We love it. We also just love spending time together, whether it’s at work or after hours. We go on long walks and often cook together. Cooking is a bit like coding: every time you create something new and enjoy the results right away.
our take on the gender gap in tech
During our studies we had to do internships. In our case it was some office work for a company owned by one of our teachers. It had nothing to do with programming. We remember being told: “It’s best for you if you stay here”. We said we wanted to be .NET devs, and our supervisor laughed and replied that a girl can never be a real developer. There was also this other teacher who used to say that girls in programming are as necessary as pot plants in a room. Pretty to look at, but nothing more than that.
Hearing such things can be demotivating and discouraging. In our case, however, it had the opposite effect: it was so outrageous, it served as the best motivational pep talk. “So, you’re saying WE CAN’T do something?!”. Imagine. The sad thing is, these kinds of comments still can be heard. We learn about such stories from our student friends. Now, some of us are thick-skinned and assertive and won’t have anyone tell them what they can or can’t do, but others might quit. We’re probably losing some great professionals because of such “motivational” talks.
When you start working, it’s a different story. In a workplace you’re judged by your results. Of course, in most places girls in IT are still a minority. We have this wonderful story about a company we used to work for. It’s a huge hotel booking service, very popular in Iran. When we passed the job interview, we were the only girls in their whole IT department. There were about 200 employees in our building and they were all pretty surprised to see us. Wherever we showed up, we heard: “It’s the IT girls! It’s the IT girls”. We think the managers thought that the job was too hard for women: long hours, stress, lots of pressure on flawless performance. They just didn’t hire girls.
We spent 4 years in this company and during that time everything changed. The IT department got completely feminized! It was like a revolution. We went from 20 men devs to 18 women devs and 2 men devs in 4 years. It turned out that not only were we able to handle stress and pressure – we were so thorough and reliable, we excelled at our jobs! With time, our managers started placing more and more women in the team, because the greater was our number, the more bug-free the code got. We think that girls, in general, pay attention to detail and are very careful, check everything twice. Actually, for the very same reason they often don’t apply for certain jobs – if they feel they don’t have 100% of required skills, they pass up the opportunity.
our thoughts on the future
Back in Iran we took part in some social media campaigns aimed at supporting women in tech and inviting people to think differently on jobs and gender. We always encourage girls to choose this career. Women should believe in themselves more. They should get rid of this fear of doing something new.
After the 4 years at the travel booking company, we felt our professional lives no longer held any challenge for us. And we simply couldn’t live like that. We can’t stand routine. We looked at our .NET options and Poland seemed like a very good choice. Our families were shocked; they thought we were crazy to travel that far for work. Well, crazy or not, that’s what we did. And here we are, among intivers. Pretty good place to be.
The job market is changing all over the world. Women get more recognition, reach for their dreams and succeed. We don’t experience any difficulties as women professionals in tech – the ones we do, are not gender-related in any way. We got used to working mostly with men. We focus on our tasks and don’t think that much about gender. It would be cool to have more girls in this sector though, for balance.