To finish up our annual series of Women Take Tech for International’s Women Day, I sat down with Solidatus Development Specialist Nadia Mahgerefteh to discuss her recent mentoring work. Over the course of eight weeks, Nadia has been sharing her skills and experience to mentor a group of women students.
Teaming up with Code First Girls, Nadia has been a tutor for the ‘Intro to Web Development’ course, which has seen her supporting and educating women as they start on their coding journey and forge a career in STEM, with the objective of further reducing the gender gap and breaking down barriers for women in tech.
First of all, how did you end up teaching for Code First Girls?
I saw an ad for it on Instagram! I felt like I was finally in a place where I could teach other women and show them that tech isn’t as scary as it may seem. I personally found it intimidating embarking on my own career and even starting my role at Solidatus. But with the help of the company, I’ve felt so empowered and want to inspire others and get them as excited about coding as I am.
Tell us more about the course
It’s an eight-week beginners’ web development course for career switchers/students. I taught the course on Zoom once a week for a couple hours on a Thursday evening alongside another instructor. We had about 45 women sign up for the course!
What has been the biggest challenge for your students so far?
There is a really big learning curve when it comes to coding, and a lot of the students struggled to see how they were ever going to produce something meaningful with their code, but sure enough a few weeks later they all managed to collaborate in groups to create their own websites.
Why do you think it’s difficult to attract women into tech jobs?
Of people studying computer science, which isn't a huge number to start with, only a small proportion are women (my class at UCL, for example, was around 15%), and unfortunately a lot of the tech jobs out there require a Computer Science degree or something similar. So I do think we have a pipeline problem and need to get more girls interested in tech in school so that they do decide to take it further.
Once applying for roles, it can also be extremely intimidating. I only found myself applying for roles unless I met 100% of the criteria, whereas it was found that men apply for jobs if they only meet 60% (Harvard Business Review), so I definitely think the wording used in job descriptions should accommodate this disparity.
What made you want to pursue a career in tech?
I was always interested in technology from a young age but didn’t really consider it as a career because it wasn’t really discussed as an option at my school. The only tech A-level we had was ICT which was considered an ‘easy’ subject, and I didn’t know Computer Science even existed.
It was only after an alumni student came to my school to speak about his career journey, in which he studied Computer Science and went on to work at Amazon on the drone project, that I really thought wow, how cool is that! I taught myself Computer Science A-level and went on to study it at university, and soon after joined Solidatus.
We are always on the lookout for new members to join the Solidatus team, who will not only add to our product innovation, but will help nurture and build on the Solidatus culture and vision. Check out our careers page to see our latest opportunities: