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Diversifying tech talent with WomenHack

By: Ekaterina Gasparian – Software Engineer, Data & Optimisation

As a woman in engineering, I know first hand the challenges that come with pursuing a career in a male-dominated field. Even from my grade-school days, I was undercut in my education in computer science simply because it was not a subject women typically pursued. It wasn’t until well into my career on the business-side of Google that I returned to my interest in engineering and decided to enroll myself in a masters program for IT. Today I am able to call myself a software engineer at Rokt and am happily growing in a career that I once thought was out of my reach.

My introduction to Rokt was facilitated through an industry networking event. Today networking has evolved to focus on more niche specialities, with diversity being a top priority. One such company, WomenHack, focuses on gender diversity at tech companies and Rokt had the privilege to host their 3rd ever Sydney event. Launched in 2016, WomenHack is a global community that connects women in engineering, product and design with tech companies focused on equal opportunities. Our hosted event in Sydney included a number of tech companies in the area which included Amazon Web Services, Honeywell, SBS Australia, The Trade Desk, Ooovuu, Learnosity, BigCommerce, and Amaysim.

Our WomenHack event kicked off with 5-minute presentations from all participating companies. I along with Lucy Hunt, our Director of People in APAC, were chosen to represent Rokt. We took the opportunity to get a bit personal and talk about our experiences working and growing with Rokt. Lucy detailed her journey from Australia to New York only to end up working for an Australian company. She eventually returned home to Sydney to head up our People team for the APAC region. I followed that up with my experiences as a woman in engineering, the challenges I faced at work and how they affected my personal life. After the company presentations, the evening continued with speed-date style interviews where attendees were able to cut through traditional interviewing norms and engage in casual conversations with companies they were interested in learning more about.

Throughout the course of the event, I had the chance to speak with many of the attendees and found myself exchanging accounts of personal experiences. Working in tech, women often find themselves to be the only woman on an engineering team which can make it difficult to discuss personal matters. One of the benefits of events like WomenHack is that it provides women the space to connect on a personal level through shared experiences, exchange tangible advice and most importantly provide support validation. We all continued to find common ground through our preference of company culture over product when it came to potential employers. Coding and designing can be adapted to suit the needs of a company but for many of us, the key to a pleasant and driven worklife is to feel a sense of community at an organisation where recognition is based on merit and not office politics.

I am immensely proud to be working for a company that focuses on diversifying the workplace. With 175 Rokt’stars across 7 offices, speaking a combined 24 different languages, we have seen the value of having individuals with different backgrounds and experiences contributing to our fast-growing company. With our CTO James Wilson on board, Rokt is on a mission to build out our engineering team with a diverse group of intelligent, fearless and team-oriented talent through communities like WomenHack and soon monthly Clojure meetups. In fact, we’re happy to announce our first direct hire from WomenHack who has been brought on as a product manager. We hope to see many new (and familiar) faces at our upcoming events. Be on the lookout for our next one – we’ll bring the food if you bring the talent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ekaterina is a software engineer on the data & optimization team. She has two bachelor's degrees in management and applied mathematics and two masters degrees in international management and information technology. When she’s not contributing to the enhancement of the Rokt technology, she spends time with her family and enjoys reading and fishing.