Written by: Patrick Kho
For a very long time now, the pursuit of higher education has always been an integral facet in human society, through empowering young, passionate minds with the skills and vocabulary required to make their mark on the world in any way they see fit. With that being said, Edukasyon.ph is a website providing advice and convenience to 250,000 students every month to make informed choices on higher education. WiTech was given the chance to speak to five junior project managers and engineers from this website, who have a strong stand on the issue of female representation in STEM.
On being a woman in tech:
When asked about how being female has impacted her journey in tech, Christine, one of the engineers and quality assurance tester at Edukasyon, recalls how superiors in her life had used gender stereotypes to belittle her: “in college, some of our professors would say ‘Boys are better when it comes to coding’” and that many would often say “we cannot exceed the capabilities of men in the field of technology.” Despite this, her experience at her first internship gave her hope as a woman working in the field, as she found “equality” and the “willingness to help one another” among her co-workers, regardless of their gender.
“Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do. Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it. Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others. Don’t assume that it’s too late to get involved.” ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie; quotes Christine about the obstacles women have to face in the tech scene.
Jam, one of the product managers at Edukasyon, replied saying “I was very lucky to find a company that is as diverse and as empowering as Edukasyon.ph” due to the organisation’s appreciation for “diverse perspectives”, and where everyone is treated as “equals”. Aside from this, her identity as a woman has given her a better understanding of Edukasyon’s users, the majority of whom are female.
On potential improvements in tech:
In response to their opinions on systemic biases in the fields of STEM, Regina, a junior full-stack developer, stated: “I think being a woman or a man shouldn’t have any bearing in one’s tech career. At the end of the day, we’re all just people who are pursuing their careers”. Additionally, Sam, another product manager at Edukasyon, shares akin beliefs WiTech holds at its crux: to see “equal opportunities for men and women”, as well as “break[ing] stereotypes”.
On individuals they are inspired by:
Claud, the third product manager at Edukasyon, reminisces her college days as her main source of inspiration: “during my capstone […] my advisor, who happens to be a woman in tech, consistently guided me and thoughtfully assisted me every step of the way […] More than her knowledge in the tech field, her constant encouragement and positive outlook in life has really impacted me the most. Every time I talk to her, I feel really empowered to do everything with excellence.”
In addition to this, Sam and Jam draw inspiration from other inspiring women in different fields: Beyonce and J.K. Rowlong, both of whom “maximised their platform”, and made their dreams reality through their “perseverance”, “work ethic and determination”.
On advice for young girls wishing to pursue tech:
“Let us remember that it’s not always about what others would say, it’s the fact that you are happy with your achievements.” answered Christine, “Take a risk and don’t even regret one.”
In a similar way, “Find a way to join different tech communities. You’ll be surprised on how much you can learn from different people in the tech industry,” mentioned Claud. She also encouraged other girls not to “let anyone talk you out of your dreams just because you’re a woman!”
“Take a risk and don’t even regret one.”
“Resilience is key,” remarked Jam. “Working life is already challenging enough as it is but women have to go through many more challenges in order to succeed.”, and continued saying “Failure is a scary thing but the cool thing about failing is if you approach it with the right disposition, you can come out of the situation as a bigger and better person.”
“Just do it! Don’t be afraid and don’t think you that you don’t know enough to excel at a tech-related career. There are always resources and mentors out there that can guide you along the way. The only obstacle getting in your way to having a successful career in tech is your doubt. Right now what you can do find a mentor, take online courses, join meetups, and attend conferences to build connections and to expand your knowledge. So stop doubting and follow your passion,” noted Regina.
Finally, Sam mentioned: “I’m lucky to be part of an organization that allows us to challenge and push ourselves. It has been one of the greatest decisions I have made. It has pushed me to go out of my comfort zone, explore new opportunities and find a new passion.”
What these women had to say is definitely something we can all learn from. Their experiences in the industries of STEM can teach us to work hard for whatever we aspire to, and that what truly matters is our own contempt and satisfaction with our achievements.
With Edukasyon.ph’s service in providing informed advice on higher education, hopefully these women may also usher in a new generation of technological innovators, that passionately stands for equality and inclusivity in the workforce.
Patrick is currently a high school student at the British School Manila. His passion for political, social and cultural issues is the main reason why he decided to join WiTech as the first male contributor. Additionally, he believes that WiTech’s work to promote women in technology is necessary to shatter harmful stereotypes concerning both men and women in STEM.