On June 14th, 2020 4 female leads of FB DevC circles from different parts of the world came together to host an online event - Tech By Her. It was really informative and refreshing session. Here are my major takeaways from the panel. consisting of Navya Tatikonda (Hyderabad), Anna Unger ( Stockholm ), Saima Tariq(Islamabad) and Sangeeta Gupta (Pune)
The panel started off with the question if gender has ever influenced the career and opportunities in Tech? How did they overcome it? It was refreshing to see that half of the panel have never really faced a challenge. One of the panelists had actually felt that being a woman had really opened more doors for her since some companies are working on improving diversity. For one panelist who felt gender was a problem- the main problem was the inability to fit in a room full of men. For people facing such problems, she recommends being the best at the job as one way of facing the problem. (Meritocracy) . She also recommended not being shy of Showing up and standing out in your space.
I think the best question in the current times that was asked at the panel was 'How do you make the best use of virtual learning?' Saima recommends refraining from signing up for every online course you see. Have a streamlined agenda. So the courses and webinars should match your goals. Another speaker also recommended making the best use of a recording of webinars in free time to explore our other interests.
Data Science & ML - What is the proper approach and how to find opportunities? Navya recommends ideally knowing python or R first. Python is recommended. Also, strengthen up your foundations on linear algebra foundations. Saima too recommends brushing up your mathematics. Having web scraping can really help you hone your skills or familiarity with data. And always keep your profile updated. Sangeetha too pushes on doing more Kaggle Projects. Anna finds it easier to take up Data Science related roles if you go to uni and have a Ph.D., or you can start off as a developer and build your way up.
Saima's answer on managing work-study balance was really insightful. She believes have a schedule and discipline is the key. Always leave out some buffer time. Make sure your schedule is not packed. Do not really leave anything for the last minute if you can. Productivity apps can help. She personally finds headspace meditation really helpful. A reward-based goal realization system can really work out. Do set strict boundaries on expectations of your time. Being consistent is really the important bit, Sangeetha adds.
For improving or finding Work From Home opportunities, Saima recommends taking up the act of job search like a job itself. Have your resume, projects, and cover letters ready. Sangeetha emphasized the importance of putting your projects, no matter how small it is to you, put it out there for people to find it. You are learning in the process and what this tells about is huge.
When asked about challenges due to gender, Saima emphasized that many challenges are really intrinsic. We do a lot of injustice to ourselves by not speaking up in order to avoid potential conflict or confrontation. We sometimes are plagued by Imposter Syndrome. Sangeetha personally spoke about a very relatable problem of being unable to take in compliments. When A compliments B, we often either pass it back to A or pass of the credits to someone else instead of just accepting we are worthy of the compliment.
Another really good takeaway was on How do we build connections? Online and Offline? Anna connects with people through Linkedin whenever she attends an event and then later uses LinkedIn search to talk to them. Navya really recommends getting out of your comfort zone and talk to maximum people during an offline event. When online, Saima finds interacting over comments and blogs as also a potential place to connect with people of similar interests.
There were a lot of really good questions asked on the panel like On Mentors, following up on tech stack, about Facebook DevCircles, etc but these were my favorite and personally best takeaways. The interactions and networking with event participants was amazing. It didn't really feel like we are attending from different parts, it felt more like we are sitting on one large round table. Kudos to the organizers! That is very difficult to achieve even in an offline event. The way the group was so accommodating and understanding of introverts was so refreshing. The work the leads did is really commendable. Really looking forward to more of these!