Women in Tech: A Q&A with our Senior UI Developer
We talked with Amanda about her personal career path, how to better inspire women in tech, and advice for young girls learning to code.
You’re a Senior UI Developer. What does this mean?
What were you doing before joining Level?
Before Level, I was in school. I had some other internships and side projects where I learned about different frameworks and the ‘professional’ large-scale way of doing things.
When did you know you were interested in the field of tech?
I grew up in Silicon Valley, so I barely knew about any careers outside of tech. When I discovered I loved design and layout in high school, I knew that web design and development would be an awesome way to combine those two fields of interest.
Did you study or play around with code in high school?
I first learned HTML and CSS by just playing around with websites. I remember learning about it in the Xanga and Myspace days, and I loved being able to look at someone else’s code, trying to decipher what it meant and then modify it. That’s mostly what I do in my current position now.
You got an early start in tech, but what about others who want to learn to code at a later stage in their career?
There are so many resources (and free!) to teach you how to code. Search online for “learn how to code” and you’ll find countless websites, demos, and courses. If you’re learning to code but not finding it interesting, think of something that you can make with code. Sometimes ‘coding just to code’ isn’t fun, so use what you’ve learned to start a project that you’re genuinely interested in and passionate about.
Did anyone inspire you to follow this career path?
There are so many people that inspire me. People I work with, people I hope to someday work with, people I meet at Women in Tech conferences, people who write books and articles that I love, people who love what they do, people who make a difference in the world. They all inspire me to work and grow in my career.
Do you have any interesting stories about your career path or journey?
You always hear statistics that women negotiate less and are less vocal to their managers about wanting raises and promotions. Different people have given me the same advice: All you have to do is ask.
When it was time for annual reviews at my company, I was given a raise that was not what I had hoped for. So I asked for more money. It took some time, but 6 months later I got a promotion and even more money than I asked for. I’ll re-iterate that advice: All you have to do is ask.
Do you think it’s important to have more women in tech?
It’s important to have women in tech because there are women who are good at working in tech and who want to work in tech. If the field continues to be dominated by men, that’s already a barrier for women who don’t want to work somewhere where they may feel like they would be an outcast or a minority, or that they won’t be treated fairly. Tech needs more female role models to pave the way for even more female coders. Research shows that diverse groups are more innovative and produce better products than homogenous groups.
How can we do better as colleagues, and as an industry, to celebrate and encourage women in tech?
Since women are a minority group in tech, it’s important that we work together to make sure we all have equal opportunity to progress as much as we want in our careers. If you’re a woman who’s on the executive leadership team at your company, awesome — fight so that other women can do whatever they aspire to do. If you’re a woman who’s happy staying in your same position as a programmer for your entire career, awesome — fight so that other women can do whatever they aspire to do.
But let’s also make changes at the top and the bottom. People at the top of companies should look at their organization and find inequalities across demographics at each level. A conscious effort needs to be made to make sure women and people of color are getting hired, promoted, and paid equally. People at the bottom of companies can make change by having open discussions about diversity and inclusion, attending conferences, and getting to know people of different backgrounds.
“Research shows that diverse groups are more innovative and produce better products than homogenous groups.”
Can you share a few words of advice for young girl coders?
Some girls might think that coding is boring, because they may have other interests. But what’s awesome about technology is that it can advance any field. You can automate a process, create an app, or work on some other piece of technology. So whether you are interested in baseball, or cooking, or robots, or fashion, you can write code to help revolutionize that field.
“So whether you are interested in baseball, or cooking, or robots, or fashion, you can write code to help revolutionize that field.”
P.S. Coding can be difficult. And you may struggle. But, boys are struggling just as hard :)
Amanda Erb is a Senior UI Developer at Level, a purpose-driven digital design firm. This is part of a series where we take a closer look and feature the lifestyles and career paths of millennials who work at Level.