Authors’ note: This article has been written as if the authors (Esther and Cristina) were being interviewed.
Nowadays, to be a part of the technological world as a woman is not easy, it does not matter what they tell us or what they want to make us believe. Back into the 80s, women lead the technological field, so what happened? Basically they found out technology meant power, and we know men love any form of power. This fact, summed up to the idea of video games being a thing for boys, totally dethroned women.
So why would a woman leave it all behind and go deep into this field? Even knowing this is a difficult change, I look at Esther and Cristina (two current Adalabers), who came from two very different backgrounds, and I can only see hope and passion in their eyes.
“I was very clear that I wanted to study something related to chemistry, although I’ve always enjoyed video games and computes in general”, says Esther.
“In my case, I’ve always been a huge art lover thanks to my dad”, explains Cristina. “So I got my studies on Applied Arts, then later I studied History of Art, thinking it would be somewhat useful to find a job”.
Sadly both found their study choices wouldn’t be as successful as they thought. Esther stopped liking Chemical Engineering and Cristina wasn’t able to make her career as an historian lift off.
But how did they live the gender gap in their respective and previous careers?
“Actually, I was happy to see there weren’t so many guys in my engineering class. Maybe around 60%. Success rate at exams was pretty equal too”. Esther remembers her young days with a dreamy voice. “I’ve never felt discriminated in that sense, but it’s true that in the end, I worked on laboratories where we were usually more women, meanwhile my male classmates found real engineer jobs”.
Cristina remembers how in her class there were more women, but she suffered sexism during her internship in a stained glass workshop, since her co-workers stated women didn’t have strength enough to lift up concrete stained glass.
“When I was in college, I had many subjects centered on male artist, who are indispensable in history of course, but there were none about women”, she explains with gloomy face.
Society has divided jobs into arbitrary genders. It’s known that before women were raised to cook or sew, but still well-known chefs and designers were men. Basically this happens every time. We women have been pushed into “caring” jobs like nursing or teaching, but normally only men were granted recognition for them. This could be the reason why some women had to pretend to be men in order to study or work (or go to war!). Such is the case of Margaret Ann Bulkley who enrolled as James Barry to study medicine and literature, then later to work as a doctor and later to join the army. Brontë’s sisters Emily and Anne did it in order to publish their novels, even the famous J. K. Rowling signed her books under that name so people wouldn’t know she was a woman. I can’t forget mentioning Joan of Arc, who fought during the Hundred Years’ War while disguised as a man.*
As I said at the beginning of this article the tech field is led by men and, more specifically, programming has a lack of women. Adalab is an organization that supports women to find their place in here. They believe the gender gap can be reduced and actually, a lot of companies are very interested into this project.
“I rejected the idea before because I did not like the programming I learnt during the grade, but I guessed it was time to change and I took the tests. I passed them, including the personal interview and got into the program”, says Esther and Cristina nods. On the other hand, Cristina had never tried it before. “I think any time you go to a new place and start doing new things you are a bit sceptical, but their methodology is very solid”.
Adalab has a high rate of success employability and right now they are in their fourth year. To close this interview I ask them where do they see themselves when they finish the course.
“I am really happy about taking this path. I have always felt that I was wasting my time, studying something I did not like, working on something that led me nowhere. Right now, although I know I still have a lot to learn, I dream about working as a freelance in any city of the world (99% sure it’s gonna be in Germany) after our one-year experience as an Adalaber”, For some reason, I can picture Esther programming with a beer next to her laptop!
“I needed a change: I could not make any future plan and any job related to my studies seemed impossible unless I had a good amount of money saved, which I didn’t. I wanted to stop having poor quality jobs and use that time to learn something in the minimum possible time that helped me finding a job qualified enough to my studies level and stable in the future, so that’s what I’m looking forward right now”.
I hope that these two and the rest of their classmates find their dream jobs,help to break the existing gender gap, and become important and influential people.
In case you want to know more about this topic, check this article: “11 Badass Women In History Who Pretended To Be Men Because Gender Equality Back Then Was More Myth Than Reality”
Written by Esther Pato and Cristina Pérez