This article has been developed by Emma Santanach and Anna Bartalini
Feyisewa Salami is a passionate Software Engineer at ThoughtWorks who recently moved to Spain from Nigeria. In her attempt to adapt to a new reality, she discovered MigraCode’s CodeWomen Barcelona, the community of women she always wished to have.
Feyisewa heard about CodeWomen for the first time through one of her colleagues who shared a post about one of the Coding with Coaches’ nights, an event held once a month by CodeWomen to connect women developers with women who are transitioning to the tech sector.
In her journey as a woman developer, she has always felt the absence of a community of reference. For this reason, she became very drawn to the idea of becoming a coach: “I read about these coding sessions where coders could volunteer and help fellow women transiting into tech, and I thought that it was a very nice initiative”.
She volunteered for five months as a coach, sharing her expertise in software development while spreading the voice among her contacts, who were also looking for the kind of platform that CodeWomen was creating but were not aware of its existence.
The decision to move to Spain came after receiving a job offer on LinkedIn while still living in Nigeria: “one of the recruiters of the company I am currently working in reached out to me because my profile was interesting to them; I was scared about moving to a new place, the language barrier, a new job in a new country, being far from my family… I was skeptical. But I’m glad I made this decision”.
Her interest in coding started right after university. She had the opportunity to attend a Bootcamp sponsored by Google. When she finished, she applied to many companies and after a while, she started coding. It’s been four years now, but the path hasn’t always been so simple.
One of the major challenges that she encountered was entering a male-dominated field. When she finished her studies, she thought that she wasn’t going to program because there were no women in that area. The few females that she had in her Computer Science course were not even looking to enter the field.
“It was more because of luck that I was able to get into the tech world easily; I didn’t have people, especially women, to help me with this”.
Realities such as CodeWomen show that a change in the field is possible, but there is still a long way to go, explains Feyisewa. To improve the imbalance between men and women, tech companies need to realize that not having women on their team it’s a disadvantage. Women have listening, team building, and mediation skills; they are multitasking, problem-solvers, and can work under pressure.
“When companies don’t have women, they are losing these qualities; our ideas differ from men, so having both perspectives would benefit the company”.
Only by being a woman, the path into tech can look harder. There are some steps that women should take to make their transition into this career easier. The first is to understand what part of coding could be of their interest and how that knowledge can be applied: “knowing what you like most is the best way to be great”.
For Feyisewa coding is a challenge, but a stimulating one that involves logic and thinking:
“the joy for me is solving problems, […] there was a situation in which I was stuck on a problem for 3 days and I didn’t have anybody to go to; in situations like this if it’s not what you love, you are going to leave it. One of the reasons I like it is that the code never lies, whatever you give to it, it returns to you […] but when the solutions go out, and they help people, they make their life easier and better, this is the joy”.
Talking about challenges, moving to Spain from Nigeria has demanded some adaptation skills. It has been hard for her to meet people: “one of the things that helped was joining a community, and I think this is one of the reasons why I joined MigraCode. Most of the people are migrants so I thought that they might have been in my shoes”. The language was also an obstacle but by attending OCC language exchanges she discovered an easy way to combine meeting new people and improving her Spanish.
Two of her main recommendations for women in tech are:
“Make yourself visible and believe in your skills!”
Everyone starts from the lower point and then tries to climb up the ladder, explains Feyisewa. No matter how difficult it could look initially, there is a group of people out there who went through the same problem. A lot of women see opportunities and then think that they are not good enough for the role. “Just go for it, even if you don’t get the job, but you get an interview then you will know what you need to improve”.
Join a community!
As a migrant in a new place, it is essential to look for a community and for fellow migrants. Being with people with whom you might share similar obstacles could help you adapt to the system and find your way around easily.
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