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#MyCareerChoice. How was the online-marathon for the Girls in ICT day

30 April 2020

The marathon for the Girls in ICT took part on 23 of April. This was an online-marathon with inspiring, strong, and successful women on what one should do to get a dream job, which prejudice have the heroines experienced at the beginning of their career journeys - and many other topics.

What the speakers were talking about and what did the viewers remember - in our article. 

“It is certainly an event to be remembered”

32 speakers. 16 hours. Hundreds of grateful comments and questions. This is how the marathon can be described in numbers. The event was organized by СSR Ukraine in a partnership with UNFPA Ukraine. 

The marathon was held under the #STEMGirls initiative, which promotes science and information technologies among girls, ruining stereotypes about ‘male’ professions. 

Gender-based prejudice is enduring, especially long-lasting in Ukrainian society. Women suffer from pay-gap, they are asked unprofessional questions such as “are you married?”, “are you going to give birth soon?”.

The discrimination is often so prevalent that it is left overlooked. It is impossible to estimate precisely, how many girls do not apply to technical programs in universities, as well as how many candidates are not invited to the interview. The situation is even more severe for women with disabilities or girls from ethnic minorities. 

“According to our research, conducted a few years ago, 75% of men believed there were 'male' and 'female’ professions. Maybe, during a certain period of the history of mankind, this division could have been justified: for example, when we talk about hunting and active food production. Today, we see that we can handle processes, make money, grow, learn, even treat patients remotely. Obviously, in this field, women can succeed the same, or perhaps even greater, than men. So why are there obstacles - delusive misconceptions that we keep, with no reason, like junk in the closet?” Pavlo Zamostyan, Deputy Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Ukraine, declared during the marathon.

And really - why do these stereotypes still exist? And are they tenacious in IT?

This was the main idea of the marathon - to illuminate these questions and to encourage young women to develop in the field of informatics and communications.

The first programmer in the world is Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous English poet, George Byron. The first Object-Oriented Language has been developed by Adele Goldberg. ‘Femtech’ (female technologies) was recognized as a word of the year by The Guardian in 2019.

So why are women still less represented in IT than men?

“IT professional is about gender, but that is not for sure”

That is how one of the speeches of the marathon was named. The speaker, Anastasia Lysenko, Team Lead/Solution Architect at SendPulse (13Chats), titled her speech provocatively and shared the statistics on women's representation in IT.

“According to the American Psychological Association, more than 40% of women quit IT. In fact, this is a very large percentage, with most of the women quitting because of sexism, lack of support, limited career opportunities. Even in everyone’s favorite, Silicon Valley, according to the American Association, 87% of women have experienced gender inequalities in IT, in one form or another. Of course, our situation is not better, but much worse”, Anastasia said. 

The speaker recalls that back in 2010, vacancies stated directly that the companies were looking for men. However, Anastasia emphasizes that the dynamics are positive, and vacancies are rarely written about gender now, as well as women nowadays are less frequently asked about children and parental leaves during the interviews.

Antonina Shabala, Head of Frontend MARAKAS Design Studio, shares this opinion. According to Antonina, stereotypes about the 'non-female' professions have already outlived themselves and need to be combated.

“Education must be impartial. It is necessary to overcome the stereotype that women can't have a technical mind. It used to be easier for a guy to work in IT, but it is not like that anymore - this conception is just a joke. The most important thing is not to believe in those jokes and to start combating stereotypes yourself”, claimed Antonina.

According to various surveys, the number of women in Ukrainian IT ranges from 20 to 40 percent. This is still not 50-50 -the equality has not been reached yet.

Inspire girls to do IT

The main goal of the online-marathon was to inspire girls to choose a career in IT and to demonstrate that their dreams can come true. 32 speakers have become real-life role models that are very important for young people when choosing a career.

“Girls, be bold! You are not imposters, you are where you need to be, and do not blame yourselves for the mistakes!” - said Anna Lazarenko, a QA engineer at Snap Ukraine.

During the marathon, viewers were asking many different questions: from practical - what skills to develop, which programming language is the best for beginners - to somewhat personal and psychological ones - about books and sources of inspiration.

The online-marathon has become a great vocational orientation for girls, as representatives of completely different professions and various companies have shared their knowledge, once again proving that information technology is much more than just programming.

However, the problem of gender inequality does not disappear. IT, as a leading industry, is less likely to suffer from it, but even in this sphere, the situation is far from ideal. Stereotypes continue to exist: in the minds of parents, teachers, and employers. And everyone has to deal with them, not just girls who dream of a career in the field of technology. The support is extremely important, and real-life examples of women who have succeeded in the sector are encouraging a new generation of girls to change the world around them. After all, both women and men benefit from equality.