Meet our Women in Tech and Data Science
Over the past decade women have proven that they can have a major impact when they stand together and support each other ─ whether that’s in the entertainment industry, a business setting or in the tech world. We’re proud to have our own community of women in tech and data science to help us break the mould in an industry that has infamously been dominated by men. We asked a few of our engineers and data scientists to share more about their experience of working in a tech environment and how they ended up where they are today!
Note: This post was adapted from the original Q&A from June 2019.
Life at trivago: Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case and what do you think companies can do to change this?
Ivana Petrovic: It is very obvious that there is still a big misbalance in the female/male ratio in tech. It’s hard to say exactly why, because there are many individual cases. But I think in general it’s the problem of genderfication that usually starts early in most people’s lives ─ like expectations that parents have, intentionally or not, towards their children. For example, pink is for girls, blue is for boys, dolls vs. cars etc. At an adolescent age, that can affect a person’s choice in their career. Health, beauty, fashion vs. driving, physics, engineering etc. All of the jobs that are unfortunately still labelled as “female” or “male” oriented. I like to think that it’s getting better; that people are more aware of this problem. But it depends on the society very much, so we should keep talking about it.
Another thing that I noticed can influence a person is this picture in their minds of who are tech people, that you have to be this exceptionally smart person to be able to become a software engineer. So a lot of people don’t think they are good enough and because of this lack of confidence, they choose something else. This is another stereotype that we need to break. It’s up to us, the individuals, to spread the awareness, but also the tech companies out there who need to show that tech can be a very interesting choice of career, and that females have the same chance to succeed as men.
LAT: Did you always know that working in tech/data science was what you wanted to do?
Divya Soni: When I was a kid, I thought of being everything except a tech person ─ this included being a fashion designer, teacher and doctor! But while studying computer-related subjects, my interest in computers grew and grew so much that I eventually ended up studying computer engineering. To get meaning out of data is what drove me to where I am. I have worked as ETL Engineer, Data Analyst and now a reporting engineer ─ all of which are quite data-oriented topics and something I love working on.
LAT: What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Irina Lipovaya: I would advise women who chose a career in the tech industry to be confident in themselves. There is a bias that the tech industry is for men only. It can cause women to be afraid to speak up (“What if I say something stupid?”) or to have a lack of self-confidence. But the thing is, everybody can say something wrong and it doesn’t depend on a gender. You don’t make any mistakes if you don’t do anything. And if you’re not confident and don’t believe in yourself, you most probably don’t achieve any results. To feel that you need some support is fine. Just look for people who will inspire and motivate you!
LAT: What influenced you to pursue a career in tech/data science?
Aisha Nair: I started college with Humanities as my stream and had taken IT as an elective. Sooner or later I realised my talent was in writing code rather than writing prose. My parents and professors encouraged me to switch streams and pursue technology as a profession. Along the way I got introduced to Data Science which was one of the upcoming fields in technology. I loved the way we solved mysteries by looking at the data and I’m glad to say I took the path to be a Data Holmes.
LAT: What is your experience of working for a travel-tech company over the past few years?
Iryna Feuerstein: Since I joined trivago one and a half years ago adapting to changes of this fast changing world has been never so important as in 2020. Tech has been always a fast evolving area, combining it with rapidly changing business requirements makes things extremely challenging and fascinating at the same time. Every day I learn how to provide the minimal set of features to satisfy business needs, move fast and still provide maintainable and clean solutions. During this evolvement journey I appreciate working with best tech experts.
LAT: How have you experienced being a women in tech at trivago?
Laura Bennett: At trivago, I have the advantage of being able to work alongside so many other successful women working in tech. Seeing other women fight, grow and succeed within the industry has been an invaluable motivator and I’ve learned that I should be myself and trust my instincts and abilities. I’ve discovered that many of my more feminine characteristics are actually some of my greatest strengths, and of course, they feel much more natural to me, so I can focus more on the task at hand than what my body language might be saying.
Now I work in a mixed team of over 10 different nationalities, of both genders and of multiple generations. Every day I enjoy the diversity in thinking and the different perspectives, strengths and sensibilities my team members bring to provide a broader view to help us come up with fresh ideas and creative solutions to problems. Hiring more women, as well as people of different ages, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, isn’t just the fair thing to do; it’s essential for a company’s success.
LAT: What’s your favourite Women in Tech/Data Science event, platform or network that you’re part of or have been part of. Why?
Varsha Lalwani: If I only have to pick one, I would say DataKind was one of my favorite Data Science communities that I have been a part of as a core team volunteer for their Bangalore chapter when I was still in India. It was a platform to connect NGOs and non-profit social organizations with skilled data scientists who would volunteer their time trying to make world a better place by solving social problems with data. It was this diverse and inclusive set of highly motivated individuals who would easily spend their whole weekend to work on things that mattered that made it one of the most memorable and humbling experiences for me.
If I could cheat and mention a few more events or communities, I would pick Google’s Women Techmakers community which is pretty active on their slack workspaces for women in different stages of their tech or tech leadership career. I would also like to mention communities like Women in Big Data which are gaining popularity and momentum in various locations all across the globe ─ Düsseldorf being one of them ─ and I learn something new in each of their meetups!
Although I haven’t been to any of their events yet, I do follow AnitaB.org and their Grace Hopper Celebration conferences whenever possible and it never ceases to leave me motivated and hungry to achieve more when I listen to all these accomplished women share their success stories on such a huge platform.
LAT: Who are your role models for women in tech? Who are some leaders in the tech industry who you watch or appreciate?
Nicole Mckee: One of my biggest role models is someone I had the pleasure of working with in a previous company, Ailis Mone. Ailis co-founded EstHer, a blockchain-based app which enables pocket-to-pocket charitable giving to help the poorest people in Belfast. She accomplished this whilst working full time in a consultancy firm ─ and she is still doing both! Ailis and Carol Rossborough (CEO of EstHer) were able to utilise a relatively new technology to do something super important ─ make an amazing impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It was a complete joy to work with such a positive and driven person, and I have no doubt that EstHer will continue to grow and Ailis will continue being awesome.
Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences! This was just a handful of our talented women in tech at trivago ─ shout-out to all the rest of you who are constantly challenging the status quo and making an impact through your everyday work and contributions!