“Stereotypes that «programming is for men only” are slowly fading away,” says Sofiya Huts of Women Techmakers Lviv and coordinator at GDG Lviv. The purpose of Women Techmakers is to inform about IT, share common experience and encourage beginners and students, especially girls, to join this industry. Sofiya told Lviv IT Cluster about her IT experience and gave advice to those who want to be part of this dynamic sector.
“The most effective way to promote IT is to spread the information in schools where young people begin to think about their future profession,” believes Sofiya. In particular, she and other members of Women Techamakers visited Lviv schools and talked about the IT there. Sofiya herself began to study IT after Pedagogical Lyceum where the majority of students were girls. At first, she was afraid that the new team would be uncomfortable. “But as it turned out, sometimes it is easier to communicate with the boys than the girls. During my studies, I have not noticed the gender divide,” continues Sofiya. Her other female classmates are co-organizers of Women Techmakers Lviv.
Professional courses helped Sofiya and her classmates to become programmers. They joined the courses during their junior year. “It was not easy, and we had to read books and prepare for the entrance tests on our own. But it was there where we got a real project and finally learned what was really happening in the IT world,” says Sofiya. According to her, the university studies often lack the practical experience, so they need to modernize and provide the students with more skills needed for the future work.
Sofiya believes that the stereotypes about “IT being only for guys” are gradually disappearing, but this process is very slow. “Although nearly 20-30% of girls study programming, very few actually work in this field later on,” she continues. Women often leave the sphere because of social stereotypes. “From the early childhood, the people learn that the computers are more for boys while it is enough for the girls to have minimal user skills. These ideas are spreading in the media, too, since whenever there is an ad about some tech innovations, it always has a male hero,” says Sofiya.
However, the «female way of thinking” is definitely not an obstacle to work in the technical area, convinces Sofya: “This is evidenced by the fact that the world’s first computer programmer was a woman. However, few parents want to send their daughters to a computer club and prefer a more traditional one.” There are already programs which promote women in IT such as Anita Borg Scholarship from Google. Although few know about it in Lviv, the girls from WTM Ukraine are spreading the information about this opportunity.
“I advise the girls not to be afraid of the unknown or hesitate before choosing the profession because they should at least try. Especially if they like Math and solving different problems,» concludes Sofiya.