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Things a female dev who has been in the industry for 16 years has to say

“What being a developer really means” - that’s the name of an internal series initiated by my colleague Feli. When I spoke to her after the first session, she told me that she was so surprised to see how many people joined. I think she hit a nerve.

The tables have turned! In the last two sessions, Feli was the one asking the questions but now it was time for her to share her thoughts with the other participants.

The ultimate question

At the beginning of their career everybody asks themselves (and probably also their managers) this one question: “How do I get rid of the Junior title?” I guess it’s entirely natural to strive for development and promotions. For Feli, however, there are no proper definitions for hard or soft (or as she likes to call them “human”) skills you are required to be promoted. As a Junior you learn a lot, probably more than you’ll ever learn later in your career. She also says that in her opinion, as an Intermediate developer you have to be able to help Juniors whereas as a Senior you should have the capability to mentor them. Creating a plan with your manager and defining which steps are necessary to advance definitely helps and in the end YOU have to be given the chance to prove yourself, in her point of view.

Career and Life Choices

Feli has been working in the tech industry for more than 16 years and started her apprenticeship 19 years ago. From time to time she wonders if it’s the right place for her. 1,5 years after she started her career she had a teacher who told her that “women don’t belong in tech”. Hearing words like these naturally do something to you. No matter how hard it was and no matter how many obstacles got in her way -so far she never quit because she just loves coding too much. Nowadays, and currently more than ever, she considers turning her back on the tech industry for good. At these confessions, the mood in this usually quite cheerful format shifted a bit - it is always hard to hear the struggles underrepresented folks are facing, regardless of how important it is to address them openly. It’s a privileged choice not everyone can make and she’s aware of that. Changing careers can be risky and most definitely scary. Still, she is not the only woman who struggles to feel accepted in tech.

Women in Tech, or out

Just as many women and members of underrepresented groups, Feli has had negative experiences and struggled in the industry because she is a woman. Besides the universally known grievances, there are reasons why women decide not to pursue a career in tech in the first place. Raffaele asked Feli what’s keeping women from considering an engineering job and Feli says that this issue is probably already rooted in our childhoods. This does seem surprising at first, but stereotyping can cause children to develop in certain ways and in Feli’s case that means, she was used to playing with her brother and doing “boy’s stuff”, as it would be considered by society, from a young age. She thinks that this often is the case and once more it becomes clear that we still have a lot of work to do and prove it to the doubters that everyone has a place in the tech community.

After many years, Feli will leave s2engineers 💔 Everyone, especially the dev.to content team, will miss her so much. Her persistent motivation to make the (tech) world a better place inspired us and we wish her all the best!

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