Tackling diversity & inclusion
While the diversity and inclusion movement has made some gains in the last few years, the technology industry still needs improvement. For quite some time, our situation at Codegram wasn't that different to the standard of the industry, and honestly, it was quite embarrassing, one year ago just 2 out of the 11 people at Codegram were women, and, in general, our backgrounds were quite similar. It wasn't something you could call a diverse team.
We realised this needed to change, and with each opportunity to hire we tried different approaches to make our job offers more appealing and to actively reach to diverse communities.
How to do it?
The first thing to do is probably to do some research, read and learn about the topic. Don't sit back or wait until other people educate you, be active about it, there's so much content to read about! Just to kick-start it, here's some of the things we've done that worked well for us:
- Contact specific user groups for the technologies you're looking for and send them your job offers.
- Write job offers with inclusive wording, don't include every single technology you use in you company (they can be learned too!), also, include the salary. Consider if college degrees are really necessary (hint, they aren't).
- Offer the best working conditions that you can afford:
- Flexible hours.
- Budget for a home office and a coworking space.
- Working 35 hours per week instead of 40.
- 5 hours dedicated to learning time.
- No, coffee at the office, snacks, beers, ping-pong or foosball don't count as perks.
- Actively reach out to possible candidates that match your needs by looking at LinkedIn or similar platforms.
- Don't use third-parties to recruit unless you know their processes in a lot of detail. It's very difficult to find a recruiting company that shares your values and has best practices regarding diversity and inclusion.
- Sponsor or participate in organizations or events like: Women Who Code, Women Techmakers, Clojure Bridge, Rust Bridge, Rails Girls, Django Girls or PyLadies.
It might seem difficult initially, but one important thing to keep in mind is that diversity brings more diversity, so keep working on it!
Our role models
Diversity is not just a stat at Codegram, it's one of our core values. That's why we wanted to highlight some great women in tech who have inspired all of us during our career.
There are a lot of women in tech I admire, but if I have to choose the one that has had the biggest impact on my career it wouldn't be a woman, but a group of women. AdaJS is a local meetup organized by women that bring the most interesting female and non-binary speakers. I've known them since I started programming, and every talk and workshop has inspired me and helped me become a better developer. But most importantly, they have helped me to create ties with a great community and I can't imagine where I'd be without them 💜
I have been fortunate enough in my career in tech to have worked with some really great women and have felt such support and encouragement from them. The one that stands out most for me is during my first job as a junior programmer where I was performing menial tasks and not given much chance to learn or show what I was capable of. A senior developer from another team noticed this and took me under her wing and fought to give me the opportunity to work on a project where I could learn and grow. She was supportive and trusted in me to make decisions where before I hadn’t been given the chance or responsibility to do so. She really helped my confidence a lot at the start of my career and I still look up to her.
One of the people who most has inspired me have been Marie Curie, she was the first person who won a Nobel Prize twice -Physics and Chemistry-, and the only one to win it in two different scientific fields.
Born in 1867, she began to study clandestinely and today she is recognised in all over the world for her radioactivity investigations, she discovered polonium and radium.
A look at her life reminds me that, when you have a clear objective, it’s possible to achieve it, despite the difficulties.
Growing up, I have always admired Sudha Murthy. Coming from a similar community as mine and growing up in a time where gender discrimination was everywhere she broke the barriers to become the first female engineer hired in India’s largest auto manufacturer company. She also initiated computer labs and classes and also taught computer science to many Govt. run schools in my city. She later went on to help her husband start 'Infosys' which is now a huge Multinational Corporation. She portrays strength and determination. I have always been in awe of her passion and boldness. She makes me want to be better everyday :)
During my career I've met and worked with many amazing women, but one of the most inspiring has to be Blithe Rocher. When we met she was working at Fastly —coming from a scientific background she switched her career into tech and was speaking at a conference in San Francisco. Her story was already very inspiring, but there's something I still remember to this day.
At the time she was a Hillary supporter and wanted to have a bigger impact on her campaign. At that conference, she met with some of Hillary's tech staff and offered her help, and so it began. I was extremely impressed with how not only she decided to apply her skills to a higher purpose, but rather than daydreaming like perhaps I would, just went on and started doing it.
I was trying to come up with a well-known role model, when I realised that my female role model in tech was a colleague of mine, from many years ago.
It was my first job as a developer and we were in a huge team, mainly men. I was the only girl in that section of the team and was a junior back then also. Every time I had an issue, a question, something I was blocked with, whomever I would ask in the team, they would always tell me to go ask her. And every time I would get one or many possible solutions and real support afterwards. She was so knowledgeable, nice and always with a smile for everyone. And I remember thinking "One day, I want to be like her". Lidia was her name.
Not sure if it's because she was a woman in a tech world, or just because she was so good at what she did, but she is the only person I ever wanted to be like, job-wise.
According to several studies, Wikipedia is the most popular source of knowledge on the internet. Thus, it has a great impact on our vision of reality. On the other hand, being written and updated by thousands of editors, who are mostly men, it reinforces biases and prejudices that are already present in the society.
That is why I have a deep respect for the work of Patricia Horrillo who fronts the Wikiesfera users group. They dedicate their efforts to educate new women editors and organize "Editatonas" where they add and complete entries for outstanding women in a selected field, using a gender perspective to reduce the androcentric bias of the Wikipedia contents.
I heard about Patricia during the time when the 15-M movement was on everyone's lips in Spain. She was helping to build a wiki to document all the experiences that were happening at that time. And, some years later, I've had the good fortune of working with her on a small non profit project, where I witnessed her integrity, determination and commitment.
I always have been fascinated with videogames, in fact, I started studying computer engineering because I wanted to make games at some point. One of my favorite games is Portal and it was designed by an american video game designer called Kim Swift. She is such an inspiration for this tech industry where women had always difficult times being recognized. Here is a list of notable women in the video game industry.
I am also a big board game fan and I also want to do a special mention 🦄 to Elizabeth Hargrave, the designer of one of my favorite games: Wingspan. She also started this page to support diversity in board game design.
Some years ago I started digging into languages and general linguistics. At some point, I met someone on Twitter (I think they'd rather remain anonymous, so I'll respect that) and gosh. They speak a lot of languages and can read a wide variety of writing systems (from the Latin alphabet to Chinese characters, including Egyptian hieroglyphs or Inuktikut syllabics), and they work on revitalizing the language spoken where they are from. I've learned a lot from them, and we've had some awesome discussions about languages, etymologies and cultures! ありがとうございます!
After some time of programming with Ruby and other object-oriented languages I usually had the feeling that something was off: how should I split the behaviour and the state? Is this code ready to create a new abstraction? Why does this object have to know that bit of the other one? Should I just ditch OO and go for a functional approach? I had quite a mess in my head.
All this changed after reading Sandi Metz's Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby. It changed the way I programmed and especially how to tackle new programs and code bases, it was probably one of the people that influenced me the most in how I work. Oh, and it was a super nice meeting her at Full Stack Fest!
Last year I wanted to become a better Manager and learn how to build thriving products. From the many offers that you can find in Barcelona to do these type of courses, I decided to do a course at allWomen in tech. Why? I was looking to share experiences, learn and get inspired by other women, and it was a great decision! I especially feel grateful for the support and coaching that Kax Uson, one of the teachers from allwomen, has given to me. Not only during the course but also thanks to the workshops of career hacking for women where she is one of the three founders.
It's nice to have a community to learn and support each other! Also, there are some women in tech in Spain that I admire and follow to get some inspiration like Cristina Santamarina (she builds Chatbots from strategy, facilitation to implementation) or Raquel Lainde who helps companies to work on inclusion and diversity.
My natural start with coding was to convert images (web mockups) in to HTML and CSS, as I came from graphic design background. So I appreciate very much Natalie Weizenbaum (nex3) that developed SassScript, a metalanguage that converts into CSS. I took Sass benefits to improve, speed up and optimize the style sheets I produce for web pages. As well as the possibility of reusing components between projects and keeping code more organized.
Later Susy, a responsive layout toolkit for Sass, developed by Miriam Suzanne was released and I discovered the semantic CSS approach, helping me to decouple presentational information from the HTML, thus building more maintainable web projects.
Diversity brings many benefits: increase creativity (take a look at this post: Hiring people with the same ideas as you does not generate new ideas), a wider range of skills, reduced employee turnover, and also from the business side, it has a profitability impact.
Fast forward to today and we are in a better (albeit not perfect) situation: the number of women has increased from 18% to 37% (from 2 to 10, 8 being developers), there's people from 11 different countries working from 6 different timezones. A new phase in our quest for diversity and inclusion!
Cover photo done using openpeeps library by Pablo Stanley