International Women’s Day 2021: A celebration of inspiration and influence

Despite leading the world in so many ways, the tech industry has historically lagged behind when it comes to gender diversity. In fact, over the past 20 years, the percentage of women working in software development roles has increased by just 2% and according to one 2020 survey, only 8% of software developers identify as female. * Looking at figures like these, it’s clear we can all do more to promote gender diversity in our industry.

Although under-represented, women have had an outsize influence on technology and development over the years. From hardware pioneers like Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamaar, to modern coders and leaders like Reshma Saujani, Kimberly Bryant or Dana Boyd, women have long been driving change and inspiring innovation. 

In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, we asked our team to let us know about the most inspirational women in their lives - whether pioneer or personal acquaintance - and the influence they have had on their own careers.

Natalie Gray, our partner lead nominated Debbie Forster MBE.

"Debbie is known to say things like "get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations''. She is not afraid to ruffle feathers to make change happen. She has really supported me personally and given me opportunities to facilitate events and panel discussions. Her work running the Tech Talent Charter has had a huge impact on many people's professional lives as she has brought the issue of the huge lack of diversity & inclusion in UK Tech to the forefront of people's minds".

Codurance co-founder Sandro Mancuso nominated his professor and first boss Cecilia Capelache, and explained the huge impact she had on his career.

"Cecilia was vital for my life and career. Halfway through my university, my family and I could not afford the costs anymore. I would need to give up studies and go back to my parents house in the countryside. Cecilia had been my professor in the year before and would be my professor again in the academic year that was about to start. 

I told Cecilia the reasons why I was quitting the university and she said she could not allow that to happen and wanted to help. She asked me how much money I needed to continue my studies. I told her that if the university fees were covered, I could just about cope with the living costs. She had a small software company (3 to 5 people) and I believe that she did not really need to hire anyone else. I also suspect that she could not justify that financially either. 

Still, in order to help me, she made me an offer to work for her and offered me a salary that would cover the university fees. I accepted immediately and could not hold my tears. Because of her generosity I was able to fulfil my dream and finish my Computer Science degree. I worked with her for 1 year. She took me under her wings and taught me many things. That was my first job as a software developer and the start of my career."

Not all of the choices were well known, but we believe that every woman working in technology is important. Our own Sam Davies and Sid Sivanadam both chose co-workers whose attitude and expertise had inspired and energised their own work.

Software craftsperson Sam Davies nominated fellow craftsperson Christina Ripley-Gonzalez.

"Christina possesses exceptional people-skills and is very good at identifying how to move a team forward. Her knowledge of techniques such as refactoring is great, and she has a talent for teaching those around her. Furthermore, her passion to keep learning and improving her skills is definitely infectious and inspirational! I have learned so much from Christina, and have really enjoyed working with her". 

And when asked how he had been inspired, Sid Sivanadam, our UK recruitment lead  praised Head of People & Talent Anne-Marie Mendonça for "Her ability to handle herself with a positive and a personable demeanour that inspires trust and confidence in others."  

Of course, the right support and encouragement is all-important when it comes to carving out a successful career in technology, so it was no surprise to see a number of nominations which were much closer to home, with several Codurancers choosing their mothers for inclusion in our inspirational list:

Regional Director Amelia Brampton shared. 

"Growing up seeing my Mum have such a great job, taking great pride in her role and her career progression, yet always being present for her family, inspired me to find a career that worked for me and enabled me to be independent and carve my own path in life. Her second to none work ethic and amazing energy levels, strives me to be the best that I can be every day in the workplace and at home."

Helena Abellán, Head of Marketing and Communications in Spain echoed this when talking about how her mother inspired her as well.

"Instilling the idea that being a woman in the professional environment should not mean any differential treatment, neither worse nor better. The fact of being a woman should not be something that worries me or conditions me in any way to be able to do what I want in my professional life. My mum always say me: Do not feel like a victim for it or let the idea settle in you that being a woman is going to make things more difficult for you in a professional environment. Follow the way you want to follow without that thought weighing you down."

At Codurance, we’re always looking for talented women to join our team of crafts people. While you’re here, why not take a quick look at our careers page to see if there’s a role that inspires you?

*Source: Female workers in the tech industry