Women in Tech: A Portrait of Agata, Developer and Creator of “The Dev Girl”
Giving a voice to inspiring women in the IT sector is the objective of “Women in Tech,” the portrait series launched by nexten.io. Today, for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Agata has agreed to reveal herself for a brief interview.
A developer for almost five years, she’s also the creator of the podcast “the.dev.girl” and a YouTube channel, “Agata Strojek”. Her goal? Raise the veil on the mysteries behind development and break gender and other stereotypes within this sector.
Deciphering clichés, zooming in on her place as a woman in this still very masculine world, looking back on the way the women around her look at coding and development… Zoom on her experience!
nexten.io: Hi, Agata! We’re so glad you agreed to speak today. First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Agata: It’s my pleasure — thank you for having me! I’ve been a developer for almost five years now. I share my point of view on tech and programming in my podcast “the.dev.girl,” in my native Polish. Recently, I also launched a related YouTube channel, with contents that are now viewable in English. For the past year, I’ve also been taking part in conferences on various tech topics. I also share my daily life as a developer and some fun facts on my Instagram account.
nexten.io: Let’s talk about “the.dev.girl.” What made you want to start this adventure?
Agata: People around me didn’t really understand my job and the environment I was working in. The development sector still suffers from old stereotypes. Of course, you don’t have to be a geek to love development! But the road is long, and the clichés are hard… That’s why I created “the.dev.girl,” to remove the veil and show the true face of the IT sector.
nexten.io: What’s your academic background? How did you learn to code?
Agata: I earned my bachelor’s in biomedical engineering. I was truly interested in this field, but the idea of starting the great coding adventure had been nagging me for some time. So, I decided to train myself — through research on the internet֫, online courses, and so on. I also participated in a coding bootcamp to make sure I had a solid foundation in computer science. With these more or less solid foundations, I kept digging deeper, continuing to train, and finally landed an internship in a company as a Java developer. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work for different structures in different positions, but I’ve still committed to pursuing a master’s degree in computer science as well.
nexten.io: Let’s get to the heart of the matter. How did you feel as a woman when you started working as a programmer?
Agata: Very lonely, mostly! Since I started coding, I don’t think I’ve met more than 15 women in IT. It’s very strange not to see women evolving in this sector. I read somewhere that the percentage of women in the tech world was 7%! I find this figure amazing; I can’t explain it.
Some women still have an overly simplistic view of female developers, mistakenly drawing parallels with the video game world. Others are more aware of the gender gap and simply don’t have the commitment. For the rest, there’s also a story of self-confidence…
nexten.io: Do you think initiatives like the International Day of Women and Girls in Science can have a positive impact?
Agata: I think that’s essential! When I started training, I followed exchanges on the Facebook group “youcodegirl” with keen interest. It was a way for all of us to share our knowledge and questions and stick together. Stereotypes can be very dangerous and hurtful when they don’t have to be. To feel the support of an entire community is galvanizing.
That’s why, since last year, I’ve been raising my voice and speaking out at tech conferences. This has allowed me to help work toward closing the divide between women and men in this sector. I’m delighted to be able to participate in liberating women’s voices. I’ve also mentored three particular women who are very interested in development whom I’ve enjoyed following through their discovery of the field. One of them has since taken a position as a software intern and that’s such a source of pride!
In Poland, a foundation has been created to teach women to code and enter the tech sector’s professional market. I think this and other initiatives are fantastic! Little by little, mentalities are changing, and it’s about time! It’s tiring to have to constantly prove that we have the same skills and are just as capable of producing quality code. Coding has nothing to do with gender — it’s experience and knowledge that must come first.
nexten.io: Have you ever found yourself in discriminatory situations — either positive or negative?
Agata: I’ve come across some inappropriate remarks, yes. I remember a colleague who thought it was a good idea to point out that if I didn’t want to put my camera on during a call, it was probably because I wasn’t wearing makeup or hadn’t brushed my hair that day. On another occasion, while several of us were discussing tech issues, a man couldn’t stand the fact that I knew more than he did about specific subjects. Out of humiliation, he tried to undermine me several times. There were some remarks and situations that were completely uncalled for!
nexten.io: What would you say to women who want to learn to code but are afraid to start?
Agata: That I myself was in their situation: I was afraid that I didn’t have the right profile, that I wasn’t capable, that the field was out of my league. It takes courage to dare to face your demons, to work on your weaknesses. Yet sometimes, it’s just a matter of taking the plunge and giving things a try. If you want it bad enough, and you work hard and believe in your abilities despite the challenges, you’re bound to succeed in finding your place.
nexten.io: February 11th is the perfect day to honor women in science who’ve made a difference! Are there any particular women in IT who’ve inspired you?
Agata: I can’t really say that I have a specific role model or idol, but I definitely admire the work of Margaret Hamilton, an outstanding American computer scientist who helped land the Apollo rocket, among other accomplishments.
nexten.io: Can you share with us the playlist you listen to while you work?
Agata: I like to work in silence, but I sometimes work while singing Billie Eilish or Backstreet Boys at the top of my lungs! Here’s a playlist I occasionally listen to while coding.
nexten.io: Any final words?
Agata: Coding is not rocket science! If you’re interested in the world of coding, don’t hesitate to give it a try. It’s not as hard as you might think; you just need to believe in yourself and give yourself all the keys you need to succeed. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female.
But if you tried and you didn’t feel it — it’s also fine. You don’t have to be ashamed of that. You tried and this is your victory.