March 8th is International Women's Day, a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. In honour of this important day, we had the privilege of speaking with five incredible women to hear their experiences and insights on a range of topics related to gender and diversity in the industry.

Insights and Experiences from Five Industry Professionals

Beverly, Emilia, Lua, Arina and Vicky from Codelitt, who share their perspectives from navigating gender biases to building a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture, to the ways in which technology can empower and support women around the world.

We hope this interview offers a valuable perspective on the important issues facing women in tech and other industries today. Without further ado, let's dive into the conversation!

Arina Leontjeva, Senior Product Designer

Q: Arina, how do you approach creating UX designs that are both functional and visually appealing?

A: A good UX will have visual and functional elements working together, complementing each other. Before starting designing it’s also crucial to consider business goals, understand the target audience who we are building it for, and find that golden middle where we can merge business goals and users’ needs.

When designing I always make sure that the product meets the client’s goals and user needs, the interactions are understandable, easy to use, and easy for the user to accomplish their intended tasks, when the functional part has been outlined and preferably tested then I start thinking about the aesthetic part of it when working on it. I'm taking into account the vision, the mission of the product and what it wants to convey to the users. I believe, first and foremost if we won’t make the design functional for our users, all the visual aesthetics in the world won’t save our product from failure.

Q: How do you navigate any gender biases or stereotypes that exist in the design industry?

A: To be honest, I don’t think I ever felt it. I believe, as long as you love what you are doing, you keep constantly evolving as a professional, and you become every day the best version of yourself you will succeed.

Your hard work and dedication will always lead you to success despite gender biases /stereotypes.

Emilia Soto, Talent Acquisition Lead

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey becoming a talent acquisition lead in SaaS industry Emilia?

A: At the beginning of my career, when I was looking for my first job in the recruitment industry, I faced many challenges because of being a woman. When I was interviewing for these roles, I faced questions like, “are you dating?”; “wow is a long time; are you planning to get married/have kids?”; questions that I felt weren't addressed to men and impacted the hiring process.

I remember the first time I was interviewed without these questions; I was so surprised. I felt so comfortable during this conversation that I realized it was because no personal matters were questioned, only my skills and background for the role.

We are all biased, but it is key to be aware of them and train yourself to eliminate these behaviors in every role and industry.

Q: How do you think the SaaS industry could do better in terms of hiring and promoting women, and what steps has Codelitt taken to address this issue?

A: There is a majority of men leading technology companies. Usually, all CEOs, VPs, and people who run leadership teams are men. There are few places where you see a woman in leadership positions.

There are different initiatives to promote women in the tech space and hear their voices. It is about hiring by skills and not by gender or age. It is difficult as for example, we are used to linking developers with men, but it is possible. It is about being open to a change.

Vicky Jaime, Chief Design Officer

Q: Vicky, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing women in the Saas industry today, and how can we work together to overcome it?

A: I think one of the biggest challenges that women have in this industry (and maybe others, but this is the one I know) is taking risks and showing up for themselves. That translates to not applying for the job if 100% of the requirements aren’t met, or taking the chance on that promotion, or stepping outside her comfort zone.

I believe women have always felt like they had to go above and beyond to even meet the standard, and that’s just not the case. We’re equally capable, equally informed, equally ready to take on the jobs, the challenges, the next steps.

What can we do to overcome this? Lift each other up! Show up for that colleague, friend, peer when they aren’t doing it for themselves. Help the women in your life push the boundaries and take risks, to believe in themselves, to show up for themselves.

If you’re a woman in a leadership position, understanding that the levers you can pull can have an enormous impact on other women in your place of work, so being in tune with the female workers in your place of work, understanding what their career goals are, and making sure they are applying themselves when the opportunity arises, or giving them a nudge and pointing them in the right direction, is definitely something you can do. Most of all, believing in each other, and to paraphrase Sheryl Sandberg, leaning in, and not out, when opportunity comes knocking.

Q: How have you seen the Saas industry change in terms of gender diversity during your career, and what changes would you still like to see?

A: You know, women have always been around technology, but due to how the world works, their work was usually overlooked or overshadowed. Women were there programming in the early 1900’s, just ask any engineer and they’ll tell you all about Ada Lovelace! Women played massive roles in the 20th century's biggest technology accomplishments: from cracking encrypted messages in WW2, to sending humanity to the Moon, as well as becoming astronauts! I would say that actually, the number of girls in STEM careers has decreased in the last decades: only 1 in 6 tech specialists in the UK, where I live, are women, and only 1 in 10 are leaders. Even though the workplace has become more diverse, women are underrepresented. There’s no 1 way to tackle this issue, I think it needs a multi-level approach, and the first one starts with us, women: knowing we can, taking that first step, applying for the job, pushing forward, showing up. Organizations and their systems need to level up as well and even though things have changed and keep doing so, we are a long way from done. We need to make sure that all leadership is brought into taking measures to support women in STEM fields.

Beverly Gnau, Product Manager

Q: Have you ever experienced any gender-related challenges in your role as a project manager, and how did you handle them?

A: Interestingly enough, the gender related challenges I've experienced in my career happened in the software industry.  The grossest example that I recall was perhaps initially rooted in cultural differences but that didn't make the experience less frustrating and insulting. I addressed the situation directly with the executive who set the negative tone as those tend to trickle down through the organization.

Q: How do you approach building strong relationships with clients, and what strategies have worked well for you?

A: Strong relationships with clients are vital to project success.  While it sounds too simple, I've found the best strategy is to treat the client as I demand to be treated myself - with professionalism and respect, while keeping a sense of humor and open communications.

Lua Mazaracki Martins, Sr. Software Engineer

Q: What do you think are some common misconceptions about women in the SaaS industry, and how do you navigate them?

A: As the SaaS industry clearly has way more men than women in engineering teams, I've noticed a lot of prejudice about women's abilities as engineers during my career years. Fortunately, I've never doubted my abilities, and the moment I passed through a situation like this, I started looking up to companies that had a more mature mindset. This is when I found Codelitt, 5 years ago, and I'm very glad that here I've never felt that anyone doubted my skills, on the contrary, I've always felt that they were very much valued.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about a project you worked on recently that you found particularly challenging?

A: Here at Codelitt, we have projects of many different stacks, so it's always challenging (and fun) when we go to a new project. But one particularly challenging project was doing maintenance on a data parser that a third-party company created for one of our clients. The parser was having issues processing most of the files they were trying to parse, and they wanted it to work with files with many different patterns and singularities. But with patience and effort, we made it work just fine and had a lot of fun while working on it.