Girls are making waves in ICT. There's no doubt about it. The digital era has opened its doors to many women globally and we feel that it’s our duty to continuously encourage young ambitious girls to test their own boundaries, pursue their careers and make it big in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields.
That's why we would like to join a global initiative called Girls in ICT Day and celebrate a tremendous effort and all the ways women from the top of the tech game to women fighting for equal rights are moving the boundaries in ICT. To celebrate this year's Girls in ICT Day, we decided to have a chat with two of our colleagues Slađana Miljanovic, a front-end developer, and Milana Jovičić Poljački, a back-end developer.
Slađana is a lead front-end developer and a team lead in Vega IT. She establishes best practices and coding standards for client-side architecture and puts a lot of effort into growing her front-end team’s productivity through mentorship and education.
As a backend developer, Milana is responsible for developing properly designed and maintainable solutions by using different kinds of technologies and approaches (C#, .NET, ASP.NET Core, REST, ...). Very often, she needs to dive deeply into database management, to do deployment stuff which includes writing powershell scripts.
M: What motivated you to enter ICT world?
S: I got my first computer when I was just four years old (commodore 64) and that was my first encounter with IT world (although, back then, I wasn't aware of it :-)). During my high school, the Internet became widespread and this is when I first became interested into IT. It might sound strange, but the fact that IT, at the time, was an unknown field, motivated me, even more, to pursue my dreams in this field.
M: One sentence that always hovered somewhere above me... It's not a world for a woman. And why not?! :)
M: What are some of the biggest challenges women who want to venture into the world of ICT face today?
S: I think one of the biggest challenges is a prejudice that women are not equally good as men at this job. I must say I disagree. Fortunately, IT community in Serbia is very well-developed, and I don't feel there such bias or sex discrimination in the workplace.
M: Fear and lack of self-confidence. Girls keep asking themselves: "Can I do this job equally good as others (read men)?".
M: What is it that you enjoy the most in your current job in Vega IT?
S: As a team-lead, I am lucky to have the chance to show all the magic of front-end development to our new-coming colleagues. Every time when I have an onboarding session, I fall in love with front-end development once more. Also, I have the privilege to learn something new and interesting from the colleagues on my team on a daily basis. So, I would say that knowledge sharing and interaction with my colleagues are the things I enjoy the most at my work.
M: A lot of possibilities to be better professionally and personally, because I'm surrounded by extraordinary people and we are complementing one another.
M: How has your unique background prepared you for the world of Technology?
S: Although I have a bachelor degree in web design, I can’t say that the formal education prepared me for IT world, (mostly because of the lack of practical work). Immediately after my studies, I started working in Vega IT where I also started building my career and where I had my first encounter with IT world. Seeing technology develop every day is an exciting place to be despite of your background.
M: After I have earned the Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, I started working in IT industry. That was 12 years ago. It is very important to think as a software engineer and that is the main thing you take with you after you finish your studies.
M: How could the tech industry be more inclusive for women?
S: We need to encourage diversity and always be open-minded.
M: My opinion is that currently, we are on the right track. What I can see now is that women are more present in IT industry than before. It's all on us. We need to prove that we are good at this job.
M: What is your advice to women thinking about starting their career in IT?
S: You don't necessarily need to attend IT-related college to work in tech and you don't need to know absolutely everything in order to succeed in IT. The most important is to be ready to learn and adjust to the team/environment you work in. If you manage to do that, bright future in IT awaits you.
M: I think that every woman interested in IT should believe that she is able to successfully enter this world. Everything can be learned. The only thing needed is a strong will.
M: What keeps you motivated?
S: The beauty of IT industry is in its dynamics. The fact that I keep learning new things all the time keeps me motivated.
M: I would say that the possibilities to learn new technologies, improve my technical skills and get good feedback about my work from my colleagues and superiors, are the things that push me forward and motivate me to be better every day.
M: Who is your role model (if you have one)?
S: I’ve recently read a book “Good night stories for rebel girls” a collection of 100 stories of extraordinary women. Although this book is aimed at teenagers, it was really inspiring to me. One of the authors of this book wrote an article on Silicon Valley sexism. As a response to the article, she says “push me, even more, to think that our next project should target girls and give them a strong, empowering message.” So my answer to the questions is: my role models are all those confident women who know how to dream bigger and aim higher.
M: Believe it or not, it's a man. :) My husband who has been a passionate software engineer for almost 20 years. He's the one who I thank for all the advice and knowledge I have gained over the years.
M: A day in a life of a developer is…
S: It is hard to sum it up in one sentence but let’s say it is dynamic, busy, sometimes hectic, calming, exhausting, thrilling - all of that. I spend my time mainly by organizing the tasks within the team, delegating tasks, communicating with clients and, together with my colleagues creating estimates for potential projects.
M: It starts with a cup of tea and some fruit... :) Each day is full of different kinds of challenges. Finding solutions requires a lot of thinking and creativity. Besides just writing some lines of code, you need to be able to design your solution properly, so that it is maintainable and readable for everyone. I would say that devotion to every detail when developing software is something that fully describes me.
M: What misconceptions do people usually have about your job?
S: People usually think that front-end is easy because it is not programming. But, once they start learning, they soon realize there is a wide range of things they need to know to do front-end development. Also, people usually think that we are designers :)
M: I have to say that I didn't notice that people have any misconceptions. People are usually very curious to know what I do and I try to present it in a simple manner. in other words, I tend to be clear and precise so as not to provoke any misconceptions.
M: What do you do differently from your coworkers in your profession?
S: I always tend to approach my work from many different perspectives because I do it with love.
M: What I know for sure is that I like challenges and I'm not afraid of them. I'm always ready to pick up any task, no matter if it doesn't suit my current technical skills or I don't like that task for some reason.
M: Thank you!