Being a woman in tech actually has its ups and downs and I’d like to tell people how it can break or make you as a person. Below are some instances like obstacles and opportunities I overcame and took. I really hope more women will be visibly felt in open source projects, thus making me do this blog post.
I remember the lines uttered by my uncle when I was taking college applications, “Bakit computer (course)? Hindi ba pang lalaki lang yan?” (Why take a computer degree program? Isn’t that an industry for men?)
In an old-fashioned culture like the Philippines, I sometimes find it annoying how stereotypes can mark you or what you can and cannot do as an individual. To think that those words came out from a family member. But that didn’t stopped me in pursuing that course and graduating from that course too.
I was a member of a student organization way back in college. As a digital artist, I was assigned to create posters and certificates for an event. As a student, initially you’ll be taking these kind of things seriously. So while I was doing these certificates, it really made me so curious why an orgmate’s name was in the certificate that we will be giving away and underneath her name was the title “Mozilla Representative”, by that time I wasn’t aware that there’s a Mozilla Philippines Community.
So I did some research and actually tried to join the Mozilla Student Reps program but as someone who is not really that great in meeting new people, I was kinda hesitant to be active and interact with them, especially those who are active and talkative in the thread are mostly men.
So months passed by, and I’m still inactive. My high school friend was asking me on what national or global organizations he could join. So I suggested to him that he should try the Mozilla Student Reps program. But with his personality, he quickly talked to one of the Mozilla Representatives and even got to volunteer in an event. That’s when I took the opportunity to ask my friend if I could join in volunteering for that event too, ensuring that I could go there with someone I know. Eventually they agreed to add me in that event. And that’s how I started with Mozilla.
My first time to volunteer.
Isn’t it funny that you just need to take chances outside your comfort zone and opportunities will open up. You’ll never know what’s on the other side until you take that step outside the box.
Have you met someone who actually encouraged you to improve yourself?
I’d say this, back in college I took a class where we are then tested to speak in front of the whole class and I just stood up there shaking, my mind went blank and all. And that was the time that I instilled to me that I’m no good in public speaking.
I was still an Firefox Student Ambassador (FSA) and a Mozilla Rep encouraged me to talk to an audience. Initially, I declined as I know how stage fright can make me freeze. But he insisted so I gave in and accepted. Little did I know that it will not just be my first talk outside our university, it’ll also be my first event where I’ll be talking in front of a huge audience. So imagine my horror.
A thousand student, listening to me. I was shaking the whole time I was waiting to be called. And this Mozilla Rep and some fellow FSAs tried to calm me down. Then I was asked to go to the stage. With a less shaky me, I was able to wing it. Overall, I think it went better than I expected. Funny how my first talk was also about WoMoz. (HMMMM….)
Sometimes you might say that you cannot do something but friends, family, or a colleague wil tell you the opposite. Other people might see your potential as an individual and you just have to trust in yourself.
Surround yourself with people that will encourage you to be better.
Those were some of my experiences as a woman in tech. There will be tons of obstacles and opportunities that will come. What will empower you to face obstacles, to learn from them, and to move forever forward to your destination?
It all comes down to YOU.