Today I spoke with Sarah, one of our developers here at Dynatrace, about her experiences working in the male-dominated coding domain and whether or not she “codes #LikeAGirl.”
Hi Sarah, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. What’s your role here at Dynatrace?
I’m a member of a seven-person software development team. We’re mainly responsible for performance-data processing, data storage, data analysis, and data delivery in the cloud and cluster-based environments. This includes, among other things, the writing of time series data, providing data for smartscape, and even fault domain analysis.
Wow, so you’re working at a really deep technical level. When did you decide to go into tech and what influenced your decision to pursue tech as a career?
The decision kind of evolved over time. I‘ve always been interested in computers and things related to computers. That’s why I decided to attend a high school with a focus on IT. After high school, I began working as an IT assistant. During that time I thought more and more about programming. That’s when I officially decided to go into tech and began part-time university studies in software engineering.
Have you ever felt that you weren’t taken seriously in your job because you’re a woman?
I’ve always felt accepted and valued, both back at university and now on the job. Certainly though, there have been situations where I’ve had to put more energy into something to be taken seriously. I doubt that this had anything to do with me being a woman though. I think everyone has to go the extra mile from time to time, regardless of gender.
Situations where I’m not taken seriously do sometimes happen in my private life though. For example, there was a power outage in our flat a few months ago. My boyfriend and I did some troubleshooting by unplugging various devices and, although we couldn’t nail down the problem exactly, we were able to narrow the issue down to a wiring problem outside the apartment.
We called an electrician. I spent several minutes telling the electrician about what we’d learned about the problem, but he didn’t listen. It was like I wasn’t even in the room at all. He listened to my boyfriend, but not to me. Anyway, instead of investigating outside where I recommended, he repeated all the same troubleshooting I’d done. It turned out that the problem was a short circuit in our balcony’s power outlet. So we were actually pretty close and we could have saved the electrician a lot of time.
Well, that’s discouraging. We’ve all heard stories like that unfortunately. Do you think this might be a reason why there aren’t more women in tech jobs?
I have absolutely no idea. I guess a lot of women – especially in their teenage years – don’t really have any idea what they want to do as a career. They have different interests at that age and it’s just more likely that they’ll be interested in something like fashion than high tech.
Still there are plenty of women making huge impacts in technology, so I don’t really know what the reason might be.
Okay, final question, and my favorite: Do you think you’re a nerd?
“Nerd” is such a broad term that brings to mind so many clichés. Presumably, every software developer is a bit of a nerd – so I probably am one, too. I’m not much into the popular science fiction shows, but I do like “Firefly” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I usually prefer books over the movies that are based on books though. I sometimes listen to Kohina classic arcade game music. And I still absolutely love playing Bomberman on Super Nintendo. Oh, I almost forgot, I own a Tetris lamp! It’s a lamp that can be freely assembled out of Tetris-style blocks.
Thanks, Sarah. I really enjoyed speaking with you.
Sure, no problem. I enjoyed it, too.