The Computer Weekly Developer Network (CWDN) and Open Source Insider team want to talk code and coding.
But more than that, we want to talk coding across the diversity spectrum… so let’s get the tough part out of the way and talk about the problem.
If all were fair and good in the world, it wouldn’t be an issue of needing to promote the interests of women who code — instead, it should and would be a question of promoting the interests of people who code, some of whom are women.
However, as we stand two decades after the millennium, there is still a gender imbalance in terms of people already working as software engineers and in terms of those going into the profession. So then, we’re going to talk about it and interview a selection of women who are driving forward in the industry.
Ayelet Laub, Kin Ecosystem
Ayelet Laub is product manager and head of developer experience at Kin Ecosystem – Kin is an Israeli digital money company, it is used to generate value through a shared, decentralised cryptocurrency in a digital ecosystem of apps and their users.
CWDN: What inspired you to get into software development in the first place?
Ayelet Laub: As a little girl, I wasn’t very technologically inclined or interested in computers at all, but I was very fond of mathematics. After I finished my military service, I thought about what to study. I initially gravitated towards mathematics but my older brother (who I absolutely adore) convinced me to try computer science since it combines mathematics and computers. It’s a good thing I listened to him.
CWDN: When did you realise that this was going to be a full-blown career choice for you?
Ayelet Laub: When I started working at my first real job where I practiced coding and applied it to real-life challenges. I fell in love with it after I saw how my work makes a real impact.
CWDN: What languages, platforms and tools have you gravitated towards and why?
Ayelet Laub: I have always been more interested in server-side, backend technologies like Java, C++, and Node.js. Solving problems that involve performance and scaling is something that always gets me excited.
CWDN: How important do you think it is for us to have diversity (not just gender, but all forms) in software teams in terms of cultivating a collective mindset that is capable of solving diversified problems?
Ayelet Laub: I think it’s really important. The best teams are the most diverse teams. We need to be able to challenge one another and cultivate free thinking. My current team is very diverse, not only in terms of gender, but in religious beliefs and age range. We work together to respectfully challenge each other every day.
CWDN: What has been your greatest software application development challenge and how have you overcome it?
Ayelet Laub: At Kin, we’re building a self-serve, decentralised platform for developers that is easy to use and implement. This project is a huge challenge and although we’ve already made great progress, we still have a long way to go.
CWDN: Are we on the road to a 50:50 gender balance in software engineering, or will there always be a mismatch?
Ayelet Laub: When I graduated with my degree in computer science in 2008, there were only five women in the entire class. Today, I see a lot more women rising to the challenge and choosing this career path. We’re not at 50:50 yet and I’m not sure we’ll get there anytime soon. That being said, we’re definitely making great progress when it comes to balancing the gender ratio in the software engineering field.
CWDN: What role can men take in terms of helping to promote women’s interests in the industry?
Ayelet Laub: Men should stop looking at women in the workplace as “women” in another category — and start viewing them as employees with equal training and professional capabilities.
CWDN: If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then what languages or methodologies separate the two (basic) sexes?
Ayelet Laub: That’s a good question. Today, the differences between professionals in the software engineering field aren’t so apparent. I feel like, especially in light of the last question, that we really have made a huge amount of progress here. At Kin the majority of leadership positions, including in programming and engineering roles, belong to women, myself included. That being said, my team is mostly composed of men. However, I don’t really see a difference in the languages we speak professionally.
CWDN: If you could give your 21-year old self one piece of advice for success, what would it be?
Ayelet Laub: Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion even if you know you’re in the minority. People are often afraid of choosing their own paths and going against the crowd because they’re afraid to fail or afraid of everyone else’s opinions of them. Stand up for yourself and lead your own path. This is how you’ll achieve everything in life.