Girls in Tech: “Fixing tough issues fascinates me”

research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Priyanka Shete, Senior Software Engineer at adesso.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Priyanka Shete, Senior Software Engineer at adesso

Priyanka is a Senior Software Engineer at adesso. She is involved in the conception and development of individual software solutions based on JavaScript. She is an active speaker at meetups and conferences and writes technical articles. Her passion is to find the simplest possible solutions for complex problems. Priyanka’s focus is on UX, accessibility and performance optimization.

When did you become interested in technology?

As a kid, I was always interested in puzzles. I loved mathematics and the problem-solving aspect of it. I vividly remember when I was an Electronics Engineering student, we would often write hexadecimal op codes to get the tasks done from the Microprocessor. Just the process of writing a piece of code that controls this machine and makes it do these things we want them to do, was such an exciting process for me. I was quickly hooked and decided to shift my gears towards computer science.

How did you end up in your career path? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

I was born and brought up in India, but moved around a lot for my studies. It was definitely difficult to be away from home. Initially I worked as a C Developer. Through my work I stumbled onto JavaScript and the web world, then I decided to teach myself all about it. After making a couple of pet projects I tried freelancing. It was hard to get projects without any prior experience in the field, but once I managed to get a project, I made it my mission to make it a success. Google and open-source code on Github helped a lot.

At times I wondered if the solution I came up with really was the best solution, and I realized that I needed a mentor. I started going to meetups and getting to know like-minded people. They helped me think outside of the box and generate new ideas. Over time and with a lot of practice, I gained more confidence about my coding.

Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?

My family and friends are my support system. As a young girl, my father pushed me to give my best, so that I could get the best of the education from the best University in the nation. My in-laws and my husband support me by pushing me to test my limits and always encouraging me to share my knowledge with the world.

My mother is my role model. Her optimism and perseverance inspire me every day.

Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?

Luckily, I haven’t had that experience. Rather I have met people who have helped me throughout my journey as a developer. I am extremely grateful to them.

Every step of the way, I have always had a clear goal in my head of what I want to do next in my career.

A day in Priyanka’s life

I am currently working as a Senior Software Developer at adesso SE. Although every day is a little bit different, my typical workday involves discussions with Designers and Architects to find the best solutions to given problems. Of course, for the large part of the day I read and write code, which is the best part. 😊

What are you most proud of in your career?

There isn’t one particular thing that comes to mind. Every step of the way, I have always had a clear goal in my head of what I want to do next in my career. That approach has been worked out pretty well for me so far.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

If you are interested in something, just go for it. Don’t wait for anyone to make opportunities for you.

It’s the social stigma. Many young girls don’t even try to get into tech because it’s been portrayed as a man’s world for so long. I think young girls should be informed of the options available to them, so that they can make the right decision for themselves.

Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?

The presumptuousness of people comes to mind. Sometimes you meet people who just assume that you are probably bad at your job just because you’re a woman, inversely sometimes there are people who think too highly of you because you probably had to prove your worth as a female developer. All of this without taking to the time to find out what you really can do.

Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?

Skill sets in STEM are essential for ensuring long-term sustainable economic growth. People in tech companies are building solutions to life’s problems. We desperately need to make sure we are doing everything we can to attract and retain the best people on the planet to fill those jobs regardless of their gender.

Women offer a different perspective than men, but account for only one-quarter of core STEM jobs. The world definitely would be a different place if more women worked in STEM.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?

It is pretty amazing that discussions about diversity and inclusion are happening. What’s more amazing is how many people support these discussions. Having said that, I think there is still a lot to be done to change the mindset surrounding diversity – which will likely take a long time. But we are headed in the right direction.

What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?

If you are interested in something, just go for it. Don’t wait for anyone to make opportunities for you.

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