Zone Women in Tech: Silvia Rebelo
The theme to this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual — where an equal world is an enabled world. This is something that resonates strongly for us at Zone.
We’re very aware that only one in ten IT leaders (1) and just 16% of creative directors are women (2). That’s why we’re working with Creative Equals to drive greater diversity in our business to enable a more inclusive, innovative and happier workforce.
In honour of International Women’s Day, we asked some of our inspirational women at Zone to tell us why more women should join the technology sector. Senior frontend developer, Silvia Rebelo, shares her views on inclusivity, networking and becoming an ambassador for change.
- How did you begin your career in technology and was it something you always wanted to do?
I began my career in technology thanks to a surprising turn of events! I was prepared to be a vet (I love animals) but that meant I needed to move to a different city and live by myself, something that’s not very common in Venezuela, where I’m from.
Long story short: I ended up applying to uni in my home city. I needed to choose a career from a list and ended up picking Software Engineering without having any clue what I was getting myself into. Although it wasn’t a smooth path all along, it turned out to be a career I love.
2. Technology roles are notoriously dominated by men. Do you notice the lack of women and why do you think this is?
The lack of representation was huge when I started working commercially. Most of the times I was the only female developer in the team and it wasn’t until not long ago that I started having more women colleagues who also worked in tech.
In my opinion, there’s a lot of reasons for the gender gap in the field. From the misconceptions of what girls can and cannot do from a young age, or what careers “suit” them better, to how girls and women are represented in the media, and everywhere really. Schools, parents and society in general have a role to take those misconceptions down and allow everyone to follow their path, whatever that is.
The other reasons I can think of are representation and visibility. You can’t be inspired by something that you don’t see. That’s why companies have a special role to hire, trust, promote and highlight underrepresented people so others can be inspired.
I’m lucky enough to work for Zone alongside so many talented and amazing women, specially in my field. We are pretty much 50/50 in the FE developers team and that truly is a blessing. It makes so much difference when you have different ways of thinking, and it shows in the end results.
3. What do you find most interesting about the technology sector?
One of the things I like the most about being a developer is the ability to work in pretty much any sector that you can think of and still work in your field. Also the fact that you will most likely be working with other people from different fields which means constant learning in other areas, making you a better professional and person.
The tech sector is constantly evolving, bringing challenges like learning new technologies or ways of working. I believe people like to be challenged as working in challenging things can be really rewarding.
4. Who’s your female role model?
There’s so many women I could name right now but it has to be my mum.
Among the many valuable things that she taught me, I learned from her about resilience. I almost gave up uni (multiple times!) but her believing in me and basically not letting me give up is the reason I’m here today.
5. What advice would you give to other women wanting to start a career in tech?
I would first encourage them as we need more women in tech!
I would advise reaching out to people and organisations that are already working to get more women in the field, like “Code First Girls” (a mentoring scheme running in different universities across the UK that I’m part of). That’s definitely a good start.
I would also advise reaching out to other women already in the field and find out more about the possibilities to find that path you see yourself in and work from there.
The tech community is rapidly growing and the amount of meet-ups and events run by women is truly amazing. You will have the chance to learn new interesting subjects but also network and talk to other people, including the speakers.
I personally recommend the MeetUp app and events from TrianGirls and ReactJS Girls.
6. How do you think the technology sector can become more inclusive?
I guess the first thing before tackling an issue is actually acknowledging the issue itself. Recognise the problem and come up with a plan that involves inputs from a diverse audience.
I believe that involving women in the hiring process and job advertisement is also a great thing to do, as it opens a positive window about representation but also gives confidence and trust to the women themselves.
Lastly, support allies. Inclusivity is a job for everyone and should be something we all strive for.
Read more from our Zone Women in Tech series: