Wow! Today is International Women's Day. I am glad that this day officially exist to give value and honor to all the women in the world who are making great difference.
I would like count myself in for making a difference and also to my mother who is not with me in this world today.
My name Jonah Andersson a Filipina-Swedish Software Developer currently working at Forefront Consulting in Sweden.
I studied Computer Science in the Philippines and then Agile System Development i C# .NET and Java Programming in Sweden.
I had a childhood dream of being an architect or civil engineer but due to life circumstances, I ended up studying about the science of computers and programming, and definitely, I didn’t regret that! In fact, I enjoy being a programmer and love learning new things in tech all the time!😊
I enjoy solving challenging complex problems, coding back-end and has great interest in developing applications full-stack in C# .NET using new technologies such as Microsoft Azure.
From time to time on my spare time, I volunteer and share my technical knowledge at some virtual conferences and user groups events.
I used to teach programming to kids in schools and there I saw the gender gap and inequality problem already. I realized something needs to be done about it. I need to do something about it!
I volunteer to mentor and to help make a difference by inspiring tech to young women. I like to connect with other developers, share my technical skills with others, my experience, lessons learned and personally helping out with gender diversity and inclusion in my workplace.
My journey to starting a career to the tech industry is a long, challenging and inspiring story.
It all started in the Philippines where I grew up. When I was a young girl, I got to watch a story about the amazon women documentary in South America. It was back then when I was a kid, they were used to be known to be fierce female warriors. I wasn’t sure if they really existed but I liked and admired the characteristics of those women - Different, Strong and Brave!
When I was growing up, I wanted to be different and strong like the amazon women I saw on TV. However, I was not as brave when I was a young girl. I was shy and was scared to be in the crowd. My mother used to encourage me to face that fear.
My choice of dream job and education were influenced by my dreams and what I wanted myself to be - to be different, brave, and strong. That somehow influenced me.
I had a dream to become a civil engineer because I liked drawing and the idea of building something useful. Back then being a civil engineer was known to be a men-dominated job wherever you are.
That dream job didn’t happen because of life circumstances and economic reasons.
In the Philippines, getting a good degree in a good college or a university is not free. We don’t have that privilege of free university education like in some countries. However, we have scholarship programs supported by private organizations or the government.
Since my parents could not afford to send me to college and take the civil engineering degree that I dreamed of, I took the initiative of taking a government scholarship that was offered in my high school back then.
I really wanted to go to the university and to chase my dreams. So, when I was finishing high school, there was a scholarship exam offered locally in my city. I took the scholarship exam, I passed it and I did it. I got the scholarship! I could go to a private university or college for free.
Although I did not have the option to study civil engineering in my scholarship program, but I was really glad. I had the opportunity to study Computer Science at a private college Asian College of Science and Technology in the Philippines. I studied a degree in Computer Science as a scholar and graduated in 2004. It was also the toughest year in my life when my mother (also my best-friend mom) died of stage IV breast cancer.
I just turned 18 years old then. When my mother died, as the eldest child in the family, I had to take the responsibility of being the breadwinner of the entire family. Instead of finding a job within the programming field, I took the first job as technical support that I could have back then to earn a living and to support my younger siblings.
When I moved from the Philippines to Sweden about 10 years ago, I decided to pursue my passion and dream to work with software engineering. I studied more about software development in programming languages C# and Java for another 3 years until I got my full-time job as a full-stack software developer in Sweden.
So, I may not be building great physical buildings but I am creating, building and maintaining useful IT systems!
Last December 2020, I was invited to speak at Virtual Azure Community Day. One of the topics I proposed talking was about Gender Inequality Problem in Tech. The proposal was the result of my personal deep reflections of why we need to be more gender equal, diverse and inclusive, especially in tech industry.
In that talk, I presented to the public the list of reasons, what I think we should do and what I am doing myself to fix it. You can watch my talk about it on Gender Inequality in Tech - Why Is it a problem and How can we fix it?
Although I am a programmer who is expected to think logically, I am also a deep thinker and a reflective person. I have learned a lot in life and through the years so far working as a woman in tech.
I have learned to keep learning from whatever challenges I face.
If you are mistreated because you are a woman, speak up and never let others belittle who you are, your dreams and your plans.
To think outside the box. To learn how to see things in a bigger perspective yet understand what small details help build the whole spectrum.
To never take things personally if there are people who drag me down and belittles my ability.
To be myself, be unique and to never pretend to be a better person - just to prove myself to others expectations. Be genuine and accept imperfections.
To be open and true to yourself and work towards your goals - not for others, but for your best self.
My Advice to all women and anyone who belongs to underrepresented groups who want to work in Tech Industry
To dare speak up and never give up! It is not easy to be underrepresented, but listen to your good inner voice, follow your heart and your dreams.
To find a good mentor and good role models.
Follow the desires of your heart and what you want to achieve. Never let anyone or anything stop you. It is ok to stumble and fall, but don’t stay stumbled, stand up and try again.
Go for a job you will love and enjoy!
To never surrender and give up when everything seems hopeless. I myself I’ve had sleepless nights and were close to giving up but I didn’t - I choose being brave.
Value your good contacts. Connect and network with great inspiring people in tech.
Dare speak up your thoughts and what is not fair, even if you feel uncomfortable and probably means taking the risks.
Get out of your comfort zone because when we surpassed out of it, magic happens and you will be surprised how it can change you to be a better you!
Check out my video interview sharing my inspiring story at FTWConf.com event today.
Thanks for reading my story and I hope you got inspired!
Feel free to connect!