March 18, 2020

What should we know about you?

I am Ramina, 28 years old and grew up in Hamburg. At the moment I work for Hapag-Lloyd AG as a software developer. Before that I worked as an IT consultant at Hermes Germany GmbH.

Were you interested in IT and programming from an early age?

Actually, I have spent a lot of time at the computer since I was 9 years old - but never programmed. In my family and circle of friends I was always the one who helped with IT problems - whether it was installing a new program or setting up an internet connection. Nevertheless, I was not aware of the variety within IT or the existence of programming languages. That was a blind spot in my image of the world.

Who or what inspired you to choose a technical profession?

At school, mathematics was always my favourite subject. Therefore, I decided to study engineering. Unfortunately, computer science was never offered at my high school. Therefore, it never even occurred to me when choosing my studies. I came into contact with programming languages for the first time during my studies - at the age of 22! It felt as if a new world was opening up to me. These were by far my favourite courses. Unfortunately, my studies only included a few basic courses.

Why didn’t you get into the IT industry earlier?

Looking back, I think that I would most likely have decided directly to study computer science if I had been able to get to know it while I was at school. I really hope that the school system has been adapted in the meantime. That’s why I consider moinworld’s visits to schools to be so valuable. I am definitely someone who would have needed this back then.

So why did you decide to do it after all and how did it come about?

During my studies I had a student job in IT. That was when the love for IT hit me! So I accepted an IT consultant position to start my career. I spent 50% of my time working in the field of communication and 50% in tool-based development. I noticed that the concentrated work and development of solutions was much more fun. With these tasks, time flew by. So I had the idea to switch to software development. Fortunately, I was already working in the IT department. So I could just walk down the corridor and talk to the software developers. They gave me insights into their work and the development environment.

How did your social environment react to your change?

“What, you? You’re way too extroverted to sit in front of the screen all day programming!” This is a fatal error in reasoning and there, general prejudices come to light. You always have to communicate with your teammates. You can also take on other tasks two days a week, for example, to have a balance - there is always enough work.

Was Moinworld important for you in this process of decision making or its implementation?

The moinworld courses could offer me a space to test myself again. Is this really what I want to do? How fast is my learning progress? I attended two courses in total. They confirmed my wish and gave me the last spark of courage to accept a job as a software developer. In a group of many likeable women who share my interests, learning is much more fun! The alternative would be learning alone in front of the PC with Youtube. Furthermore, moinworld gave me the feeling that finally the problem has been recognized and there is something being done about it. It must not remain like it is today. We as women have to help in shaping the probably most formative field of our time!

What was the interview for your job as a software developer like?

The interview began with: “Ms. Maschal, you have applied to us as a software developer. What programming languages do you know?” My answer was, “None.” At first there was silence and the participants in the conversation - all male - looked irritated. And you know what? I still got the job! I think it was my willingness to learn in particular that convinced the participants in the interview. The moinworld courses were also a topic during the interview. The fact that I attended them in my free time underlined my willingness to learn. Humans can learn so quickly. Every developer has started from scratch. All you need is time and willingness to learn!

What exactly do you do at work?

Our team is responsible for data exchange across company boundaries for Hapag-Lloyd’s own Cargo Information System. In a nutshell: Java application development and EDI. My employer gave me the best start. I have a wonderful team that supports me. In total I had four weeks of Java training. A Java coach is also available. His sole task is to support our team in every Java issue - full-time.

What about the diversity in your team?

Our team consists of 15 people. Including me, we are two women. We are divided into two offices. Each room has been assigned a woman. That means I’m alone in the office with six men. In addition, I am also the youngest.

How comfortable do you feel as a woman in your working environment?

Wonderful! I love my boys. They’re always very nice to me. Above all - and this is the most important thing for me - they believe in me! In fact, in my three years in the business, I have already been able to “woo away” two female colleagues from the business department into IT. Neither of them has a technical background, but they were very interested in IT. IT offers so many different roles where communication skills are required but no programming skills whatsoever. For example, they have taken on IT project manager positions. Sometimes I had the impression that especially women need someone who says: “Yes, I believe in you. You will definitely make it!”

What was the most difficult challenge in your profession regarding your work tasks?

As a software developer it is not enough to know the Java syntax alone. You also have to master so many other tools (Git, Jenkins) and architecture rules. Especially in the beginning, you can feel really overwhelmed. The deployment process alone is a science in itself.

Were there also special challenges regarding your gender?

No. Gender has nothing to do with your tasks. That’s why male colleagues have the same challenges in their daily work.

Do you have any role models?

Actually no - it’s scary! A formative experience, which gave me a lot of strength, was a visit to a partner company in Minsk (Belarus). There I was amazed when I saw their office space. About 40% of the software developers were women! Beautiful, young girls. They gladly choose this profession because it is so compatible with having a family. When I told them about the conditions in Germany, they didn’t want to believe me: “What? In Germany? You’re usually so progressive.”

How do you think moinworld can provide support?

First of all, thank you very much for existing! Spread information in many ways and formats: social media, participating in TV shows with the discussion groups, articles in magazines, articles in school magazines (in my time at the monastery school we had the “toilet paper” :)) But also the cooperation with boot camps could help to get more women into IT. And as you have already realized: create female role models and share knowledge through courses and training.

What do you think should change in Germany to solve the problem?

Subsidies should be released. Above all, Germany needs skilled workers to remain a strong industrial country (keyword Industry 4.0). Although Germany is very advanced in terms of gender equality, we very often associate certain job profiles with one gender. This applies equally to the profession of nursery school teachers, for example. We must break down these basic assumptions in our society. Every pupil should be obliged to take computer science as a school subject. Then at some point you can drop it again of course (just like biology, physics or a second foreign language).

What could universities and companies do?

Many equate IT with programming. And programming with magic. Companies and universities should make the diversity of roles within IT more transparent. IT is much more than just programming, e.g. the Product Owner, Scrum Master, Release Manager or IT Project Manager, you constantly hear statements like “I could never do that”. I know it looks super complicated, it is. But it follows logical and analytical rules. You can learn it with a healthy human mind. It’s not magic. Practice makes perfect in this area, too.

What do you see as the parents’ job?

Parents should never teach children gender-specific roles and stereotypes in their upbringing. For example, that girls are more emotional or empathetic or that boys are better with technology. I buy a car for the boy and a doll for the girl.

What about you?

If you would also like to encourage others with your story, please contact us! moin@moinworld.de