“Being a woman in technology is pretty lonely,” says CEO of PrograMaria | Business

The Technology Services market, which includes IT consulting, software development and technical support, hired twice as many men as women in 2020. A CEO of BMG bank, Ana Karina Bortoni, said exclusively to Techblog that as a woman in the labor market “you need to prove yourself every day”. Iana Chan, founder of startup PrograMaria, which offers programming courses for women, told the article: “today, being a woman in technology is very lonely”.

Iana Chan is the founder of a startup that offers programming courses to women (Image: PrograMaria/Publishing)

In 2020, according to data from Novo Caged (General Register of Employed and Unemployed), 7,000 women were admitted to the Technology Services market — in the same period, the sector hired 14,000 men.

“You have to prove yourself all the time,” says BMG CEO

Recently, PrograMaria joined BMG to conduct a series of lectures and workshops on women who work in technology areas: the initiative was named Juntas em Tech. Interventions began in August. On the 19th, the startup will hold a new round of meetings with programmers sponsored by the bank: PrograMaria Encontros. The following month, the PrograMaria Summit, an annual event celebrating women in technology, takes place.

In its last hiring, BMG’s technology team was reinforced by a contingent with 50% female presence. They are women who will work, as of September, in the company’s backend, frontend and digital architecture area.

The executive director of BMG, Ana Karina Bortoni, arrived at the bank in 2019, invited to be chairman of the board of directors. In January 2020, she assumed the role of CEO and the role of leader in the digital transformation process, to transform the bank’s image into a fintech. She spoke exclusively to Techblog on how being a woman impacted her career:

“The fact is that you end up having to prove all the time that you are the best professional for the task and we suffer more questions. This is a cultural problem in society and one that needs to be constantly revisited for us to really achieve gender equity.”

The lives of women in the IT market are full of obstacles. They need to excel every day in a double effort: a race against time to meet their own goals and put up with the machismo that is still present among technology professionals. This is the assessment of Iana Chan, CEO of PrograMaria.

Founded in 2015, the startup proposes to be a “social impact” business to open up machismo in the IT market and, in the process, open it up to women thinking about learning programming. So far, the company has trained 6,000 HTML, CSS and JavaScript programmers with classes in 10 classes — the 11th will graduate soon. “When we started PrograMaria, it was precisely to understand this market and why it is so unequal,” says Iana.

Women are the majority of layoffs in the data area

The problem is that, in addition to being difficult for women to get into the middle, there is an extra challenge in keeping in the job.

Data from Novo Caged for the second half of 2020 reveal that in the sector of data protection and processing services, 6,300 women were dismissed from their positions, while 5,900 men resigned from work. It is worth remembering that this sector is heated, as the LGPD entered into force in September of last year and punishments for violating the law began to apply from August 1, 2021.

Iana points out that there is a lack of greater efforts by companies to retain female talent within their workforce:

“Retaining female talent even starts with the selection process: A recent LinkedIn study revealed that men are 13% more likely to have their profile opened by recruiters than women. The blind eye has an individual aspect that leads women to have more imposter syndrome: ‘I’ll only send a resume when everything’s ok’ — while men send the resume even if it’s not 100% perfect.”

BMG CEO: “diversity brings benefits to companies”

Dialogue with companies is essential for the technology market to embrace diversity, which does not mean lowering the ruler. This turnaround can even lead to profits and increase the performance of technology teams, according to the founder of PrograMaria.

The BMG executive warns: gender diversity helps to improve company results, in addition to being good for civil society in general.

“Companies that follow this type of structure have employees with a greater and more complete baggage of experience, which is good for both the corporate environment and society in general.”

In order to combine companies with diversity, the role of the decision maker must be to encourage and mitigate unconscious biases about sexual orientations, gender identities, always acting to eliminate prejudices that come from the outside to the inside. “Half of the BMG board members are women”, says Ana Karina.

Ana Karina Bortoni was chosen to lead BMG in January 2020, and was in charge of increasing the diversity of the technology team (Image: BMG/Disclosure)

Ana Karina Bortoni was chosen to lead BMG in January 2020 (Image: BMG/Publishing)

“How are more traditional companies already realizing this? Through a mindset that puts the user at the center, thinking the product around the customer experience: UX, design thinking. If you have people on your team who are more capable of empathizing with the consumer, because they are women or black people, you can better understand the users’ needs”, he continues.

McKinsey consultancy data corroborate her conclusion: a survey of 336 companies showed that companies with greater gender diversity had 15% greater financial return than companies without a strong female presence.

“Having a community is essential”, points out Iana Chan

The scenario is constantly changing: women are gaining more space in the labor market, including technology. Perspectives are beginning to inspire a new generation of students, such as Gabriela Santos, a Computer Science student at UFSCar (Federal University of São Carlos). She recently passed the selection process to intern at a large e-commerce company. Gabriela told the Techblog:

“I think society is sexist, and so is the IT market, as it is part of this society. It’s even discouraged when you think about it. One thing I started to realize is that people don’t take you very seriously because you’re a woman. Surely they must have a lot of difficulties.”

Even with the challenges she hopes to face, she dreams of acting as a front-end developer and, perhaps one day, becoming an executive and taking on a leadership role. “Being in IT, people already believe that you [mulher] has no capacity. Imagine taking a leadership role. I learned that you need to be very firm and impose yourself”, completes the 22-year-old girl.

As executive director of BMG, Ana Karina Bortoni believes that her role as a woman leader — one of the few within the financial sector — is to inspire a new generation of women who want to occupy decision-making positions, like Gabriela. “So that they can recognize themselves and have the strength to fight the battles that lie ahead,” says the executive.

And this task is not limited to the technology or finance area: “I want to help women more and more, to be able to choose what they want, because success is being able to do what you like, it is not necessarily the profession”, says Ana Karina.

Under the direction of Iana Chan, PrograMaria trained 6,000 programmers (Image: PrograMaria/Disclosure)

Under the direction of Iana Chan, PrograMaria trained 6,000 programmers (Image: PrograMaria/Disclosure)

A tip for women who want to get into IT, according to the founder of PrograMaria, is to find your own group, form a welcoming community and strengthen networking between colleagues and acquaintances:

“When you have a community, it means you have a safe space. Having a place to exchange experiences and recommendations is very important.”

When the article mentions the case of Gabriela Santos during the interview, Iana Chan celebrates the entry of yet another into the technology market.

The founder of PrograMaria, after all, didn’t start out as a programmer, but as a journalist. But she sees herself in every one of the women that graduates at the startup to keep her head held high against machismo in a vital sector that gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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