Over the past year, we’ve seen the rise of several movements dedicated to creating awareness and change regarding gender equality in the workplace. While it remains an industry-wide challenge, it continues to be a conspicuous problem for women in the technology sector. Though women make up more than half the US workforce, they make up less than 20% of US tech jobs. Only 5% of women hold leadership roles, 12% of women are computer network architects, 13% of women have positions in computer hardware engineering and 19% of women are computer and information research scientists.

In honor of Women’s History month, NTENT would like to highlight the great contributions made by women in our company who work tirelessly each day to help us achieve our goals. We’ve asked five outstanding women representing various departments to share their triumphs and challenges of working in a predominantly male industry; to share what inspires them and offer advice to future generations.

Carmen Solanas: Junior Data Scientist

“I would say when you feel a man is trying to criticize you or diminish your worth, ignore him. If it happens in public, stand your ground.” — Carmen Solanas

Carmen currently works with multiple teams to sift through data, differentiating facts from hypotheses, and translating it into productive and useful business information.

Q: Can you describe some of the challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech industry?

A: I think my female colleagues would agree that when a man says he knows how to program, people believe it. If a woman says she can program, she needs to prove it. This happened a lot to me while getting my Bachelors degree and during my first job back in Madrid, Spain. I had to prove to the men I worked with that I was good at my job in order for them to trust me. For example, when I received a better grade than one of my fellow, male students, they didn’t believe it. They didn’t believe a woman could do better than them. At my previous job, men would constantly want to double-check my work, but I wouldn’t let them. Sometimes, they would tell me I was only successful because of how I look. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced this at NTENT. Here in the United States, I see more women working in tech and a smaller percentage of men who don’t believe in our capabilities, than I did in Madrid.

Q: What advice would you offer future generations of women facing similar challenges?

A: I would say when you feel a man is trying to criticize you or diminish your worth, ignore him. If it happens in public, stand your ground. Don’t let people like that get to you, there will always be other men that show you respect as a person and as a worker. It’s his problem, not yours.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement during your time at NTENT, either on your own or within your team?

A: I don’t necessarily have one singular achievement that outweighs the rest, but I’m proud to be able to help collaborate with a bunch of different teams and help each of them with their respective goals. Whenever someone thanks me for my work or tells me they felt it was valuable, I think it’s the best thing ever.

Q: What women have inspired you throughout your career?

A: My Mom. She is not a tech person, in fact she doesn’t have a degree, but she’s a woman that fights, and stands up to others. She has always made me feel very smart and that I can do whatever I want. She taught me that if someone tries to put me down, not to let them.

Helen Murphy: Senior Vice President B2B and Project Management EMEA & APAC

“As a mother of two daughters, I would say be tenacious, listen and learn from your peers, male or female. Don’t be discouraged by the lack of women in your workplace.” — Helen Murphy

Helen has been with NTENT since 2006 as part of the founding team at Firstlight Era in the US. She currently oversees the two areas of our business that handle content marketing/digital advertising solutions and client relationships with our Telco partners in the EMEA and APAC regions.

Q: Can you describe some of the challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech industry?

A: Coming from the operational and commercial side of a tech company without a significant background in engineering has posed some challenges during my career. Males generally dominate the engineering and tech space, while women tend to take on non-technical roles within organizations, though I’m pleased to say I see that changing, especially at NTENT. The demand for new technical hires has outpaced that of non-technical roles, which I believe has contributed to the declining female presence within the industry. This poses concern that the design and direction of our future tech products and services are being influenced by only half of the world’s population and consumers. I often find myself as one of very few women in a meeting with technical engineers, developers and data analysts when innovation and successful adaption of an end product on a wide scale can only come from a skilled and diverse team.

Q: What advice would you offer future generations of women facing similar challenges?

A: As a mother of two daughters, I would say be tenacious, listen and learn from your peers, male or female. Don’t be discouraged by the lack of women in your workplace. The tech ecosystem consists of more than coding, or developing the product. People are also needed in the fields of digital marketing, e-commerce, analytics and monetization. Tech may come with its stereotypes and challenges, as do many sectors and industries, but there is still a multitude of opportunities out there. Statistics that show a low presence of women in the industry also imply plenty of room for growth.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement during your time at NTENT, either on your own or within your team?

A: As part of a talented team, we have demonstrated flexibility within our products to adjust to changing environments and overcome obstacles to win new customers. This demonstrates how working across various teams internally allows us to focus on successfully delivering significant products in the competitive landscape of tech giants. On a personal level, being one of few women within our management team has been a proud achievement and privilege.

Q: What women have inspired you throughout your career?

A: There are many, but more than anything, I’m inspired by women seeking a level playing field. If you put in hard work that’s productive and your contributions help achieve the desired outcome, then you deserve recognition and a seat at the table, no matter what your gender. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, “I wasn’t lucky, I deserved it.”

Liliya Tsyrulnik: Senior Computational Linguist

“Believe in yourself and have a good sense of humor.” — Liliya Tsyrulnik

Liliya works in research and development for NTENT. She also does programming implementation of different NLP projects for English and Russian languages.

Q: Can you describe some of the challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech industry?

A: I think women in the tech industry face the same challenges as those in any other industry, especially when it comes to having a family. Maintaining a full-time job during pregnancy and birth, dealing with breastfeeding and waking up multiple times throughout the night, can be incredibly overwhelming and difficult. But thanks to the support I received from my family and colleagues, I was able to combine childcare and work. The good news is that after the first year, it gets much easier.

Q: What advice would you offer future generations of women facing similar challenges?

A: Believe in yourself and have a good sense of humor.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement during your time at NTENT, either on your own or within your team?

A: I participated in several NLP projects (both on my own and within a team), the results of which are in production now and provide significant improvements to query spellchecking and autocompletion, query disambiguation, and processing documents in both English and Russian languages.

Q: What women have inspired you throughout your career?

A: Both women and men have inspired me throughout my career, but one of my math teachers, Polina Klepatskaya, jumps to mind. She really enjoyed teaching and gave a customized approach to her students. She realized that our school curriculum was not difficult for me at all and gave me a personalized program that included more complex tasks I found challenging and interesting. It made me love math. She was a smart, results-oriented person, passionate about her work, who served as a role model for me.

Kerstin Recker: Vice President Account Development and Marketing

“If you don’t understand 100% of everything, ask questions and speak up; if they don’t hear you the first time speak up again.” — Kerstin Recker

Kerstin’s role covers Account Development, managing relationships with strategic partners and Telco clients across the globe. She also handles marketing and communication needs for both NTENT and product marketing.

Q: Can you describe some of the challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech industry?

A: While women have made significant strides in this field, we still have a long way to go. Males don’t just dominate the engineering side of tech, but span all areas, from the board room to technology sales. I have frequently found myself as one of a few women, if not the only woman, among a group of colleagues. That kind of dynamic can overpower a woman’s voice, but we must never stop pushing to be heard at an equal level to men. Lack of diversity, be it gender-based or cultural, limits a company’s vantage point, strategic approaches and potential growth. Despite our challenges, women must continue to strive for change, so that technical solutions and products better reflect our society. While NTENT may currently have a greater male presence than female, the company actively works to instill diversity across the organization.

Q: What advice would you offer future generations of women facing similar challenges?

A: You don’t need a computational degree to work in technology so don’t let that stop you. If you don’t speak the language of a computer scientist or an engineer, be willing to listen and learn. Shift your perspective from intimidation to constant-learner, open to what others can teach you. Trust your instinct. If you don’t understand 100% of everything, ask questions and speak up; if they don’t hear you the first time speak up again. Focus on producing valuable work that propels your organization forward. Seek outside advice and support to help you grow professionally and personally.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement during your time at NTENT, either on your own or within your team?

A: Professionally, I take pride in my ability to remain flexible and adaptable with respect to client needs, ensuring they are met despite changing global environments. As NTENT’s goals have shifted over the years, I applied this same tactic internally, successfully repositioning the company brand to support strategic visions. On a personal level, being one of the few women on our senior team has been an honor. It’s allowed me to work with various talented teams and engage in different strategic objectives for the organization. One initiative I’ve been particularly proud of was a championed effort to improve our family leave policy through our Human Resources department. It’s rewarding to be at an organization that continuously seeks ways to enhance our quality of life within the workplace for everyone.

Q: What women have inspired you throughout your career?

A: Throughout my career I’ve been lucky to work with some brilliant leaders in the digital and technology spheres. These women have been trailblazers, role models and mentors to not only myself, but many women along the way. They prove that we all have the right to a seat and voice at the table, but that nothing substitutes for the combination of grace and meaningful output. My collective female force and supporters have taught me to strive for more, embrace roles outside my comfort zone, to always remain true to myself and know my value. Many men have inspired and encouraged me along the way as well, but it’s the women before me, who paved my way that I pay homage to today.

Allison Donald: Director of Search Quality

“Be confident in who you are and don’t let yourself feel intimidated.” — Allison Donald

Allison is responsible for the quality of results returned by NTENT search engines. She works with teams of software engineers, programmers, ontologists, and knowledge engineers to continuously improve our search results.

Q: Can you describe some of the challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech industry?

A: When I first joined the company, I frequently found myself as the only woman in meetings, both in small groups or larger ones up to fifteen people. This still happens now, but to a lesser extent. At times it could be a little intimidating to be the only woman constantly surrounded by male engineers and programmers; but I realized that my background and experience are equally as valuable as theirs; that my opinions and suggestions matter too.

Q: What advice would you offer future generations of women facing similar challenges?

A: Be confident in who you are and don’t let yourself feel intimidated. If you work hard and put in the necessary effort, if you strive to truly do your best, you will be successful.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement during your time at NTENT, either on your own or within your team?

A: My achievements are definitely a team effort. I’m proud to say that since taking on my role as Director of Search Quality, our search results have greatly improved. I’m proud to work with an incredible group of colleagues who collaborate daily to make our product better.

Q: What women have inspired you throughout your career?

A: Various co-workers and friends, past and present, have inspired me over the years. I have witnessed them go through ups and downs, experience great achievements and suffer setbacks. Their incredible ability to persevere in the face of adversity and still reach their accomplishments both professionally and personally always inspires me.