I’ve never considered myself a feminist or an activist. But working in the IT world, I realize the barriers that many women face.
When I started my career in IT – as a writer – there were a lot of things I wished I were more knowledgeable about. As a female working for a technology company I didn’t feel confident. It was a man’s world.
At that time I was the only person writing stories on technology at Yalantis. Our blog was the cornerstone of our online strategy, and so the work I was doing was important. But no matter how important my job was, asking my male coworkers questions about developing mobile apps was proof that I didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t communicate with men as equals.
Time passed, and now I’m the Marketing Director (CMO) at Yalantis. Our company employs more than 100 people, 40 percent of whom are women. Today, I feel confident and supported. But I know from personal experience that there are other women who might not be feeling that way.
A few months ago I was browsing Product Hunt when I came across a site, called Stay in Tech, that aims to help women find their place in technology. The “About” section of the Stay in Tech site suggests that over 40 percent of women in tech leave the industry mid-career. This number struck me. So I started investigating reasons why women leave technology jobs. As it turns out, women typically don’t leave tech because they have lost interest in their work. Instead, women leave tech for the following reasons:
- Unconscious gender bias and stereotypes about intelligence and personality
- A lack of flexible work arrangements.
- A hostile male culture.
- A sense of isolation.
- Lack of a clear career path.
- Unsupportive work environments.
- A lack of professional development and mentorship programs.
Trying to find a solution to at least some of these problems, I came up with the concept for an app designed for women in IT.
To figure out whether there was a real need for an app-based initiative to support women in IT, I looked at other initiatives in the tech sector that inspire talented women to consider a future in technology. I found organizations such as Women in Technology, Women Techmakers, WIT, and WITI. These organizations provide networks that empower women in business and technology to achieve their goals.
I found the following inspiration on Women in Technology's website:
When one woman helps another, amazing things can happen.
FIT: Females in IT
FIT is a concept for a mobile app that lets females in IT build a community of women committed to mutual success. The FIT app could offer one of the following features:
1. Pooling Resources
Find another woman with similar professional interests to work with on a project and achieve a mutual goal.
2. Marketing and Promotion
Help other women market their projects to a larger audience. Types of promotion could be negotiated. For example, women might agree to promote each other’s products through social media, email newsletters, events, blog articles, and other marketing channels.
Get guidance from other women who have more experience with or knowledge about a certain topic. With mentorship, women can empower each other to succeed.
Mentorship might look like this: after a user has chosen the mentorship option, she can write a question that will be shared on the home page and will be viewable by all users of the platform. A question should have a professional interest tag, such as design, HR, marketing, or programming. The user who posted the question can invite one or several mentors to answer it. Mentors will automatically be suggested by the system based on specializations.
All mentors who a user has invited will get a push notification asking them to answer the question. Other users who see the question on the home page and are interested in posting their opinions may also join the discussion.
4. Finding a job or posting job opportunities
All FIT users can browse jobs that have been posted by others in the FIT community. These jobs will be shown as Tinder-like cards. If users swipe right, they indicate interest in a job. If they swipe left, they “pass along” an opportunity.
Passing along an opportunity means letting a friend know about it. Some jobs may not be a great fit for you but might be just what a friend is looking for. We let women drop a note to their friends or post a job on social networks to let other people learn about available positions.
This is a just brief explanation of the idea I came up with. While the concept may sound a bit complex for an app, I think that FIT could actually be a really great product!
After I pitched this idea to Yalantis’s top managers, we decided to take this concept one step further – we made a concept for an MVP that would concentrate on just two features: mentorship and finding a job.
We created a design for the early version of the FIT app and it turned out great. One part of this concepts reminds me a bit of Quora, the popular question-and-answer platform. With FIT, users can ask and answer questions about their professional field within the IT sphere. Users can also send private messages and follow each other.
The second significant part of our MVP concept is job searching and job posting. To make FIT better for job hunting, users can add short resumes to their profiles.
See our design case study for more information about our FIT app concept.
We are looking to validate our idea using this design concept.
Let us know what you think about it. Would you be interested in using the FIT app if it appeared on the market? What are your thoughts about the problems that women in technology (or “Females in Technology”) are facing?
Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be glad to hear your opinions!