Ania Kubow, Software Engineer at Eurostar

As part of our #WomenInTechQA series, we caught up with Software Engineer at Eurostar, Ania Kubow. Ania talks about her interesting journey into a career in tech, why she believes their is a gender disparity in the industry and what initiatives businesses can implement to attract and retain female tech professionals.

Ania also mentions how she joined the Geek Girl initiative and started her own YouTube channel.

To hear the full conversation, watch the video below!

Third Republic (TR): Your journey into tech is an interesting one, could you tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today within your career?

Ania Kubow (AK): Yeah, definitely! I’m a software developer and I also have my own YouTube channel. I wasn’t always a software developer I actually started out in finance, I was a derivates broker, started out in Singapore and then moved to London. Which was great, but it just wasn’t for me; there was something missing.

I then started my own company; an e-commerce website. This was back when WIX and Weebly and all these sites weren’t really around, I had to use other template websites which weren’t really that great, they were very limiting and I didn’t like that. So I took it upon myself to perfect the branding and the visual presence that we had online by altering the CHS, HTML, and then I was hooked. By accident I found my calling. I did a few JavaScript courses online and then decided to finally take the plunge after a while and do a bootcamp in London – General Assembly – which was really good. Now I am currently employed at Eurostar.

TR: There’s still a disparity within the tech industry when it comes to gender, why do you think there are fewer women working within the tech industry?

AK: I think tech is a very difficult one, especially something like software engineering. For me, for example, it just wasn’t really a career path that was spoken about. Even at universities they only offer computer science, where the software development aspect might not be as big. Software development is something that people discover later on in life. But I do think there is a bit more attention being put towards it now with all the bootcamps that are coming out, especially in London.

From my YouTube channel I can tell you that about 90% of my viewers are male – I’ve got 8% female and that’s apparently high. But I do think the times are changing.

TR: How do you think the industry could tackle the lack of female role models within tech?

AK: I think having role models is great and that’s something that should be celebrated, not just female role models but anyone from a different background.

There’s also a lot of unconscious bias. The company I currently work for are extremely good at making you aware of unconscious bias, with every new starter into the company there’s a whole course on it. Having those conversations is the first step and recognizing your own unconscious bias because everyone has them.

Then opening up a platform where people are welcome and encouraged to speak, actively seeking out people who aren’t just the ‘stereotypical developer’.

TR: You’re the Co-Organizer of a meetup group called Geek Girl, how do you think groups like this can improve diversity within tech?

AK: Geek Girl meetup is fantastic! It actually started in Sweden in 2006, it’s been going for a long time and they have boroughs all over the world – there’s even one in Dubai that’s been started up.

Magda is the girl who started the Geek Girl ‘tribe’ in London, and I was lucky enough to join as a Co-Organizer three years ago now. I really wanted to join because I was just starting out my career in tech, didn’t really know the community very well, and I really wanted to be involved. I guess, first of all, quite selfishly because I wanted to learn more about tech but then it quickly changed, and it was all about giving back to the community. If a community is so welcoming to you and so willing to help you out, you naturally just want to give back.

TR: What initiatives do you think businesses could implement to attract and retain female tech professionals into their teams? With that, what should they be avoiding?

AK: I know a couple of bootcamps offer scholarships, so I think that’s a good initiative. I think always making it easier for, not just women but people from more diverse backgrounds to get involved, is to offer scholarships because then the opportunity opens to a wider pool of people who perhaps couldn’t afford the rates before.

Of course, reaching out and giving more presentations at universities, at schools, to make younger people realise that this is a career path and highlight relatable role models. Simply things like that are most effective. Listening to someone talk about something passionately, that you can relate to, is so powerful.

TR: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received throughout your career?

AK: One piece of advice I did follow was to go out there and make a community for yourself. Create a space where you feel comfortable to ask questions. In software development I think there is a stigma around asking questions, where everyone feels they need to be the smartest person in the room. If you do feel uncomfortable asking a question at work, it’s nice to have that community that you’ve built, which is a safe space to ask questions. Asking questions is the only way to fast track your knowledge.

Someone also told me to start a YouTube channel and at first I wasn’t quite sure, but it is probably the best thing I have ever done for myself. Talking through a solution and actually having to explain to someone how to do something is a really strong skill to have. To be technically sound in explaining a problem, is something that I think has really helped me as well. In turn it became really rewarding. I’m able to help so many people.