It’s no secret that the tech industry doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to gender equality, but, more and more, women are claiming their place. Diversity and inclusion are a core part of Sensibill’s values, and we’re always looking for ways to celebrate the unique perspectives and diversity of thought that have shaped our company. In honour of International Women’s Day 2019, we sat down with three Sensibillians to talk about how they built their careers in tech and what advice they’d give to others.
Without further ado, meet Barbara, Disha, and Amanda…
I’m Barbara and I am a developer on the Research Team at Sensibill. We use state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to extract meaningful data from receipts.
Can you tell us a little about your career journey? How did you end up working in tech?
I’ve always been into programming and tech! I actually took a programming course to fill my schedule in high school and fell in love with it right away. I remember I would spend all my free time working on this very basic game that I created (it was an adventure clone).
I ended up going to university for math and physics, which I enjoyed a lot, but I always found myself doing different programming side projects so I figured a natural next step would be to pursue a career in tech.
Are there any women that have been inspiring to you as you build your career?
There are so many people I could list here, but lately I have been really inspired by Doina Precup. Montreal is a world leader in machine learning/AI and she is one of Canada’s leaders in machine learning. From what I’ve read, she is doing a lot around the ethics of AI and making sure we’re socially responsible. It’s really important to me because I’m very focused on making sure that anything I do is both using people’s data responsibly and creating things in a responsible way to enrich and benefit the lives of others. It’s a really important topic within the machine learning field.
I’m Disha and I work at Sensibill as a Quality Assurance Analyst. I ensure our products and services meet quality and functionality standards, including reliability, usability, and performance.
What are your first memories of being interested in tech?
I remember my father bought me a computer when I was just 5 years old. Since then, I’ve always been fascinated by computers. As I grew up my interest slowly turned into my passion and I chose to pursue Engineering in Computer Science.
Why did you choose to focus on Quality Assurance?
I am very inquisitive, detail-oriented, and always seek perfection in things so I decided that Quality Assurance was the right field. For the past seven years I’ve explored different languages, platforms, and operating systems. I derive so much pleasure from perfecting the software and applications that I test. It is still the thing that interests me the most and I’m looking forward to continuing my career along this path.
What would you tell other women who are considering pursuing a career in tech?
Tech is a very exciting and challenging space and there is lots to learn.
I think that one thing the tech sector is missing is women’s perspective, so I strongly encourage women who love technology and think they can make a change to fearlessly pursue their career in tech. Just be yourself, speak up, ask questions, admit to mistakes, learn everything you can, and be passionate about whatever you do. Tech gives you a platform to turn your ideas into reality.
“Just be yourself, speak up, ask questions, admit to mistakes, learn everything you can, and be passionate about whatever you do. Tech gives you a platform to turn your ideas into reality.”
And tech doesn’t mean you have to know how to code! Not everyone in technology starts as an engineer and many who do start as engineers continue on to different roles in tech. So be open to all the roles in technology where your unique skills, life experiences, and perspective will help create better products.
I’m Amanda, VP of Product. Essentially my role is to help guide the product strategy and manage the Product Team.
How did you get your start in tech?
I started my career as a programmer with the Government of Canada, so I got into technology right from the get-go. I did Math in University, however, once I graduated I realized that I wanted to use my degree for something other than being a mathematician, and after looking at the market, I realized that there was a huge opportunity in “IT”—when I started, anything to do with computers was IT! Essentially, I saw that opportunity as somewhere I could actually get a job! Looking back, this was a great decision, since I found a passion I did not know I had and I’ve been in tech ever since.
You’ve worked in the tech for a long time now, how has the industry changed over the course of your career?
I know there are horror stories that you read about with women in tech and how hard it is, but I would say, don’t let that discourage you. I’ve been in this for about fifteen years and the environment has definitely changed from when I first started. In many of my jobs, for years, I was the only female. When I first started, I remember feeling that I was being treated like I was “just a little girl”. Even though male colleagues would be the same age or have the same experience, they had a bigger say in what was happening within the department.
I do see that the environment is so much more open than what it was before. Women have a stronger voice, they’re being taken seriously, and given the opportunity to have that strong opinion.
Any words of advice to young girls with a passion for technology?
You’re going to be challenged every day, you get to be creative, and make your mark. You’re going to be able to express yourself in ways that you never thought you could. So, I would say, go full force. Do not let anyone stop that passion and creativity.
Looking back, one thing I would have done differently would have been to get a strong female mentor early on. Get someone who will be in your corner, help you navigate through everything, and be your advocate and sounding board.
At the end of the day…
Someday, hopefully soon, the narrative will stop being about “women in tech” and simply be about “awesome developers, computer scientists, product managers, etc.”. Soon, the gender piece will be irrelevant. But until then, we’ll take days like today to showcase the exceptional women at Sensibill.