Developer Heroes: Silvana the Elastigirl on Women in Tech

Recently there’s been a lot of discussion on the role of women in tech. There’s a rising concern about the stereotypical views towards women in the nearshore services market, as the recent article by our partner Belatrix also shows.

What’s it like for women in tech?

Our developer research report based on 13,000 developers from Q3 2015 highlighted the gender imbalance among developers when the level of gender imbalance averaged around 94% globally. The same report highlighted the importance of reversing this imbalance in order for the industry to meet the growing demand for developers as well as develop systems which meet the needs of the entire population.

The following Q&A article provides a view into the life of Silvana Gaia, Senior Technical Consultant at Belatrix, a US and Latin American Software house and proud media partner of Developer Economics surveys.

The questions included in this article are a blend of questions asked by Alex Robbio, founder of Belatrix Software and our marketing team at SlashData.

Introducing Silvana Gaia, Senior Technical Consultant.

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[Belatrix]: Silvana, many thanks for sharing your thoughts here. First up, why did you decide to study software engineering?

[Silvana]: I was a good student in elementary school, and also interested in STEM subjects. Very early on in my life, I knew I wanted to be a mother and a professional, and I was concerned about achieving both goals. In the nineties, as the Internet was emerging, remote working became the subject of popular attention. I realized this was my opportunity to achieve both goals, so I decided to study software engineering. Although to be honest, at that time I didn’t know exactly what the career entails, it sounded really cool to me.

[Belatrix]: What is a typical day for you like?

I usually wake up around 7am and have breakfast with my family. I take my kids to school and get set for the day. Some days I go to our Silicon Valley’s office and have calls with colleagues in Argentina, Peru or Colombia about new business opportunities. I also have great nerd conversations with my husband while we share an Argentinean “mate”. Some other days I have meetings with prospective and current customers in the bay area.

I work part-time at the office so I have to be very productive. I pick my kids up from school and I do things with them in the afternoon.

[Belatrix]: What do you love most about your job? Is there anything you dislike?

This answer will be long! I really enjoy my work.

First, I love to study. This work enables me to stay on top of the latest technology trends and sometimes write about them. I really like being able to speak English and improve my communication skills.

Also, I have a great degree of control and freedom within my job. I work part-time on a flexible schedule, both in and out-of-office. It makes me proud and grateful that I have been able to achieve that level of trust and I work hard to maintain it. Furthermore, I have the opportunity to travel and meet diverse people. It is always changing, evolving and the challenge keeps me engaged and excited.

I dislike the amount of effort I invest in fitting work and life activities within my calendar. Sometimes it is exhausting.

[Belatrix]: What is it like working in a male-dominated industry? Have you faced any particular challenges?

I was lucky to grow up in a family that didn’t instill gender-specific constraints and biases.

Back in the early days at university, I realized that the percentage of enrollment of women in the software engineering was around 20%. Later on, although the proportion in my class increased, the embedded stereotype was that women should be an analyst and men should be coders. I was part of a group of women that were really good at coding, and people looked at us with astonishment. Sometimes I needed to work harder to demonstrate my skills and overcome prejudices.

Although nowadays I don’t code, my programming skills set the basic background of my current position.

[Developer Economics]: Which technologies do you invest in the most and why?

Today I have a versatile role, so I invest a lot of time in learning about the latest technology trends from a business perspective, ranging from artificial intelligence to self-learning machines, to virtual reality and others.

[Developer Economics]: What do you think the future looks like in terms of IaaS vs PaaS vs Containers vs Serverless?

In the foreseeable future, any platform that enables companies to focus on creating business value will continue to grow. The targeted nirvana is to have NoOps (a term coined by Forrester Research). The decision on which path to take will depend on what degree of abstraction or control your applications require. You can prioritize simplicity or flexibility. While at the same time, you have to keep in mind functions complexity, scalability, and security.

There is a risk of being tied to a particular provider, but there are some agnostic tools that can help in this regard. Here at Belatrix, we have a DevOps lab that leverages Terraform, an IAC (Infrastructure as Code) that makes it easier to migrate between providers.

In the long term, all these platforms will evolve as the ecosystem evolves. As an example, providers will need to provide edge computing services when a huge amount of data needs to be processed in IOT environments.

[Developer Economics]: In what way do you think developers affect or make tool and technology decisions?

Developers play a fundamental role in technology decisions. When companies scan for options in order to adopt a new technology, they need to take into consideration the scarcity of talent. In the companies that I work with, those that have had success, have evaluated the possibility of finding people with the right skills and abilities. That’s why it is so important to understand developers’ interests and trends.

[Developer Economics]: If you had a superpower what would this be? Do you have a favourite superhero? 

My favourite superhero is Elastigirl from The Incredibles. Needless to say, I feel identified by her double life of mother and superheroine. Also, in the same way, I share my life and work with my husband Pablo. I love the fact they realize that their real power comes from their unity, rather than their superpowers.

[Belatrix]: Do you have any advice for aspiring female developers?

One recommendation I have for young women choosing careers is to simply give technological careers a chance. Look to inspirational people who find ways to use technology to change the world for the better – people like Komal Ahmad, who created an app which has helped feed hundreds of thousands of homeless people, while also preventing food wastage.

I would also suggest to not underestimate their potential. As the author and activist, Alice Walker, said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”


Many thanks Silvana for sharing your thoughts!

You can reach Sylvana on twitter @silvanagaia

For more women-in-tech superhero studies read our blog post on Amanda the Iron Woman or Rachel aka Wonder Woman.

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