Being a woman in tech: Insights from a codergirl
In this piece, Ruth Mikkelsen, Frontend Engineer at IMPACT Commerce, will share her experiences and advice for aspiring women in tech, as well as the numerous benefits of joining a community like CoderGirls.
Women, despite making up a significant portion of the workforce, continue to be underrepresented in tech-related fields. In fact, the percentage of women working in tech now stands at a mere 32% – that’s lower than the 35% it was in 1984!
In an effort to help bridge this gender gap and create a supportive community for women in tech, we recently hosted an event with CoderGirls at our office in Aarhus, aimed at empowering and encouraging women to pursue careers in the tech industry.
Not only are we sponsoring the group – it is also our very own Frontend Engineer, Ruth Mikkelsen, who’s at the forefront of this community.
In this piece, Ruth will share her experiences and advice for aspiring women in tech, as well as the numerous benefits of joining a community like CoderGirls.
The CoderGirls community is a diverse group of women in tech from and on very different paths and career trajectories – but with a shared interest in programming and tech in general. They meet up to code, learn new skills, share experiences, and mingle with likeminded people.
Learn more about the community and join here.
Hello. I’m Ruth, originally from Florida and living in Denmark for 8 years with my Danish boyfriend, my son, and my two stepdaughters. I studied biology in the US, but after moving to Denmark, I returned to school to study web development.
It was something I had been interested in for a while, and eventually, I started teaching myself before deciding to pursue it full–time via the AP in Multimedia, Design and Communication, and Web development Top Up.
In 2021, I started my internship as a Frontend Developer at IMPACT Commerce and was then hired on a permanent basis as a Frontend Engineer.
THE POWER OF HAVING A COMMUNITY
When asked why having a community like CoderGirls is important, Ruth highlights that it provides a safe space, where women can connect with others who share their experiences and ambitions. Ruth herself has faced challenges in navigating being a woman in the tech field;
Walking into a tech event, pitch, or meeting can be intimidating, especially when you are just starting out, and everyone else seems experienced. This feeling is not exclusive to women, but it can be compounded when you are the only woman in the room.
In fact, recent studies show that 32% of women in technical and engineering roles are often the only woman in the room at work – and, like anyone else, women in tech want to be recognised as capable professionals.
“The fear of not being taken seriously, especially when battling imposter syndrome, can be quite overwhelming. This self-imposed pressure can lead to excessive focus on self-judgment. I say ‘self-imposed’ because most men I’ve worked with in the field have been supportive and encouraging. Nevertheless, these notions are deeply ingrained in us,” Ruth emphasises.
Ruth believes that the issue comes down to cyclical thinking – the belief that “if it’s all men, then there must be a reason why women don’t want to join” which then discourage women from pursuing tech careers and continues to perpetuate this mindset.
“I’ve experienced moments of self-doubt along my journey as well. But then, I realised that if there are no physical or specific constraints preventing women from excelling in tech, there’s no reason I couldn’t do it as well,” says Ruth.
For her, it was essential to find a supportive and encouraging network.
Breaking the cycle of self-doubt and discouragement can be achieved by surrounding yourself with like-minded people who can provide guidance, sparring and mentorship. Ultimately, this helps you focus on what genuinely interests you and also make you realise that your input as woman is valid.
EMPOWERING WOMEN IN TECH NOW AND IN THE FUTURE
CoderGirls is all about empowering women to feel confident in continuing to pursue their careers in tech.
For both students and professionals, the community gives them a sense of belonging, networking opportunities, and a platform for sparring and knowledge sharing.
“We offer a supportive environment that fosters self-confidence, provides mentorship, and helps women recognise their value in the tech industry. I hope that eventually, the gender disparity in the tech field will be balanced out, so that women, in general, feel more confident about pursuing careers in the STEM fields,” says Ruth.
Because she believes that diversity in any field leads to the generation of new ideas, collaborations, and innovative approaches.
The potential for women in tech is not limited to any specific niche. The truth is that all aspects of technology can benefit from different perspectives and contributions.
Ruth has a lot of different ideas and ambitions for the community.
“Going forward, I would like to find a dynamic that works for both students/women just starting out with coding and professionals in the field. I think it’s important to represent women in all stages of development within tech,” she says.
Moreover, Ruth is currently in touch with the Business Academy in Viby regarding arranging a coding session conveniently planned before exams so that students can get advice and feedback on their school projects.
“I’d also like to invite other speakers in to present interesting topics. At this last meeting, I also got some feedback from the group about what kind of talks they’d like, AI is a popular one, as were code-a-longs, and a few other ideas,” Ruth says.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MEETUP
- 31 women joined – the highest turnout in any CoderGirls event to date!
- A diverse mix of both students and professionals
- An inspiring and encouraging talk by a (female) Senior Frontend Developer
- Pizza and mingling
- Networking with likeminded people and that great community-feeling.