More and more women are bringing their unique perspectives and expertise to the tech world every day. So in honor of Women’s History Month (and International Women’s Day), we talked to three awesome Fiverr programmers—who just happen to be women—about the challenges they face, why they do what they do, and what advice they have for other women who want to make it in the industry.
Hey girls! First things first – tell us a little bit about yourselves
Chiara: Hey! I’m Chiara, 29 years old, born and raised in Toronto.
Helen: I’m Helen, I’m 42 and based in Liverpool, UK.
Michele: I’m Michele Rosario. I’m originally from New York, but have made Atlanta my home.
Left to right: Chiara, Helen, Michele
What it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
Chiara: I’m a web developer, so I code websites. I’m familiar with most programming languages, but lately, I’ve been focusing on starting small businesses up with custom Shopify sites. Prior to that, I was creating multi-page responsive sites by scratch.
Helen: I run a community makerspace as well as a kids tech club. My usual day involves planning tutorials around digital media or using equipment like the laser cutter and 3d printer.
Michele: Most of my days aren’t “typical,” but can include building cool educational content for businesses—like websites, e-learning courses, and sales funnels—as well as for emerging women-led brands and entrepreneurs.
When did you become interested in tech?
Chiara: I grew up alongside the Internet! I played Neopets, computer games (shout out rollercoaster tycoon), made websites on Geocities/Angelfire/Expages. It wasn’t until my younger brother, a video game programmer, kept pushing me to code that I thought of it as a career. I had a serious case of imposter syndrome before I even started, but then I enrolled in a boot camp. The rest is history.
Helen: I learned by doing. I used database software at my first job, around the year 2000. I found I could pick up pretty much any new software that I was shown. I started getting interested in graphic design and then web design. Then I started tinkering with computers: taking them apart, replacing memory, and stuff like that.
Michele: I’ve always had an interest in tech, but I really got into it when I started developing e-learning courses for banks. I had to be very creative and tech-savvy to design a curriculum that would keep a with a large, diverse audience engaged while learning new skills.
Why do you think there’s a lack of gender diversity in tech? Do see this changing?
Chiara: I am the only female coder at the shared workspace—and on an average day, there are 15-20 people working there. However, at my boot camp, it was roughly an even split between men and women. I think it’ll take some time before the 50/50 ratio becomes the norm, but we’re getting there.
Helen: There are not as many women working in tech right now as there could be—however, the women I do know excel in the industry. I’ve also noticed that girls we teach pick things up much more quickly than the boys do, despite it still being viewed as a “guy thing”. So I do think that things are changing.
On the flip side, I don’t want to feel I’ve been given a job because the employer needs to tick some kind of diversity box. I want to feel that everyone knows I’m the best person for the job.
Michele: There’s a lack of gender diversity in many fields, tech included. When you don’t see many people like you in a certain field, it can make you shy away from going into it. The early visible leaders in tech were primarily white males: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc. When women like Ginni Rometty and Ursula Burns started taking on highly visible leadership positions in tech companies, they inspired generations of young girls like me to hope.
The second issue is the lack of access. From a young age, many women simply aren’t given exposure to tech topics and access to information. Fortunately, today we have organizations and programs committed to fostering a more inclusive culture by providing access and opportunities to learn and develop tech skills.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt your gender affected the way you were perceived?
Helen: Certainly. When I was trying to get started in my tech career I felt overlooked by employers. When I asked to do IT training, my previous employer commented on how strange it was for a woman to sign up. I often felt like I was being patronized. When I teamed up with my current business partner, I definitely noticed that male clients felt more comfortable talking to him rather than me. That being said, I had a huge amount of female clients who obviously feel comfortable with me.
Michele: Of course. It’s an experience shared by many women in the field. But it seems to be happening less and less—and freelancing sites like Fiverr shift the focus to your skills and work, rather than your gender.
What do you love most about your job?
Chiara: I love that I’m part of the movement of a changing ideology – one that has been established for a while now (shifting other genders towards the same job titles as men). Gender aside, it feels special to be in a career that I love and that challenges me.
Helen: I just love making things, fixing things and finding solutions to problems—and tech gives me that by the bucket load!
Michele: Hot take: I love when people underestimate me! It’s not fair, but it’s great because I look at it as a challenge. It provides an opportunity to shift outdated and unfair beliefs. That’s powerful.
What advice would you give young girls who are pursuing a career in tech?
Chiara: I would highly encourage them to find a mentor, someone that they can ask questions to and seek advice from. Then, down the road, become a mentor to others, as it helps you grow TREMENDOUSLY.
Helen: I would say that everyone has the potential to be whatever they want to be. So go for it. The gender divide is on its way out.
Michele: Work on your inner game: believe that you can, and you will. Find the “Sasha Fierce” in you, like Beyonce, so you’re ready to rule the tech world. Connect with great mentors that will open doors for you and help you navigate in your career.
Why Fiverr? What are your freelancing goals?
Chiara: I signed up for Fiverr to help out those that can’t quite afford a huge website budget while mixing up my daily tasks and learning new things! Fiverr keeps me on my toes.
Michele: Fiverr is a great platform for anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset to expand their reach. That’s why I’m here. It’s a vibrant community for buyers and sellers to connect for their mutual benefit. That’s golden! I’m able to reach new clients beyond the scope of my own business marketing.
What apps do you use (besides Fiverr) to stay productive?
Chiara: F.lux! It helps reduce the disruption of sleep patterns by adjusting your screen color based on time of day/night.
Helen: My most used apps are My Fitness Pal and Clue. And I can’t watch any TV show without opening IMDB!
Michele: I have many favorites, but Audible is my gym buddy. I consume lots of information and books, so Audible is perfect.
Inspired to work with these amazing women? Check out more amazing Programming and Tech Gigs!