This morning, I attended a rare technology forum where all the speakers were women. Some were founders, and some were executives of internationally renowned companies, all of them outstanding and talented women. These women also have families and children and face struggles in balancing work and family life. Therefore, today’s speakers were different from the male-dominated technology forums, as they did not focus on the latest or most popular technology. They all emphasized that we should know ourselves, what we like, and what we want. They also mentioned the unique characteristics of women, who tend to feel that they are not good enough, not prepared enough, or not qualified enough.
What impressed me the most was during the final interview session, when a journalist from BUSINESS NEXT asked these women if they had planned to become outstanding women in the workplace from an early age. To our surprise, all the women answered that they did not have such a plan. They only took each step seriously and thoroughly understood themselves.
As a woman who grew up under traditional thinking, but unexpectedly became the “Husband as homemaker, wife as breadwinner” family model because of my child, I understand why it’s important for women to first understand their passions. Being a career woman is often not supported by societal norms, and it’s only by finding happiness in our work that we can find the energy to persevere through the challenges of such a career.
Therefore, like Eunjoo Kim, a speaker who works at Google, who said that she did not intend to work in the United States originally. She only followed his husband, who needed to switch jobs. What she did was only to understand herself at every step, walk towards the direction she liked, work hard with passion, and then achieve her current success.
For me, my family role transformation was also a result of discovering that my child has special needs, which forced me to switch roles. Along the way, I deeply felt the impact of traditional thinking on our subconscious, which can greatly influence us. We may be pursuing a role that we don’t actually want to become, and sacrifice our careers. Or perhaps because we can’t find a good partner, even though we are in the workplace, our self-evaluation is low.
When we are not clear about what we are and what we want, We will feel like a candle burning at both ends, such as taking care of children, working outside, considering our husband’s feelings,and keeping ourselves beautiful. We can never do enough, and we cannot maintain a 25-year-old appearance and figure like celebrities, earn the same amount of money as our husbands and be economically independent, be a good mother, and also be a wise and virtuous wife.
It is precisely because women have too many choices now that we cannot have them all. We must recognize ourselves, what we are suitable for, what we want, what we can do, and what we like. Finding our own position is a prerequisite for being an outstanding woman.
In 2021, I became a core volunteer member of WWC Taipei after hosting several Women Who Code events and sharing some technical talks as a speaker. Because of my active participation and performance in the community, they recommended me for the selection of the Women in Tech Honor Roll. In fact, I didn’t feel anything special during the selection process, but I deeply felt the significance of the event during the celebration. There were many other excellent women present, and unlike the male-dominated tech community, women in tech place more emphasis on each other as individuals, their interests, and their ideas, rather than on who has the most technical skills or knowledge of the latest technologies. This is why I fell in love with the female tech community like WWC for the first time.
As a woman who has been an engineer for over 15 years, the difficulty of women in the tech industry is not really about concrete discrimination, but rather that “you are different from most people.” Because men and women have different perspectives, ways of looking at and thinking about things, and different priorities for important matters. Therefore, the real career dilemma for women does not come from stereotypes, but from the fact that I am different from most of my colleagues (because I am a pure R&D engineer, and most of my colleagues are men).
This can affect women’s ability to have good personal relationships with colleagues, make it harder to feel like they have a comrade-in-arms while working together, and also impact private information exchange. In addition, men and women may have different points of interest and priorities, and I am not particularly skilled at constantly discussing technical topics or expressing my superiority in technical expertise. However, in reality, the technical difficulty of the projects I work on is no less than that of male developers, and in some areas of complex programming thought, I outperform many male colleagues (at least those around me, not representative of all situations).
So I am really happy to be part of this all-female tech community. I feel like I have found like-minded individuals, and I have also discovered that many women experience imposter syndrome. We just don’t know our strengths well enough, and it’s not because we are not good enough, but because everyone here is so brave and excellent.
得獎頁面截圖(Screenshot of the award page)
My experience in software development is highly related to the fields of graphics, animation, and gaming. I have over ten years of experience in developing Flash games and have since transitioned to developing HTML5 web games. In the last three years, I have also crossed over into real-time streaming, graphics recognition, and other related fields. These areas of software development often involve complex performance and computational logic, and I believe this is my biggest strength in software development.
I am also very familiar with operating Windows and Linux servers, as well as communication protocols such as WebSockets. This enables me to take a more comprehensive approach in software development. Because my understanding of products extends beyond programming languages, I can understand or solve problems encountered in applications from various aspects such as operating systems, networks, hardware devices, etc. This has become the main reason why I can develop high-quality products.
I’m honored to share my work journey as a female engineer. The interviewer and author is a female student in her final year studying Management Information Systems at National Taiwan University. She noticed that although men and women now have equal access to education, there is still a gender disparity in labor participation and average wages. This inspired her to write this interview.
During the interview, I could feel that she was a thoughtful, serious, high self-demanding, and gentle woman. She listened carefully to my expressions and asked further questions to understand more. When I saw the interview article, I was surprised by how well she understood and systematized what I wanted to say. She is truly an excellent young woman! I hope that there will be more excellent female information workers, and that more women can shine in the workplace!
I’m Joan Chen, and this article is the first in the “Miss Tech” Women in Tech series of interviews. “Miss Tech” is a social feedback project initiated by me to encourage more female students to enter the information technology industry through interviewing female tech professionals and hosting women’s exchange events.
This is the first interview, and I nervously and excitedly turned on the video camera and waited for Claire to join us. Soon, I saw a familiar face with a friendly smile greeting us.
Claire Chang is a frontend engineer with more than ten years of experience. She loved playing games since childhood and dreamed of entering the gaming industry to write interesting programs. Due to her curiosity about games, Claire started using Flash, a web development software, in junior high school, and even in her university graduation project, she was responsible for frontend design and development.
In addition to being an engineer, Claire is also a mother of two, juggling multiple roles as a mother, wife, daughter-in-law, and engineer, and is often busy balancing family and work.
How to balance life and work? Claire: “It’s just different choices.”
I asked her if there was a particularly difficult time at work. She replied: “I think the most difficult time was when my first child was born. All prenatal examinations were normal, but problems were found after birth.”
Due to her first child’s special needs, one parent needs to focus on taking care of the child. After coordinating with her husband, they decided that the father would take care of the child, and the mother would mainly focus on work. When it comes to how female engineers balance life and work, Claire wisely responded: “It’s just different choices.” In the limited time and energy, some mothers choose to educate their children at home, some choose to have only one child, and some choose to hire a nanny to take care of their children.
There is no such thing as the correct way of life, only the choice that suits oneself.
The benefits of female engineers in the workplace: reducing ineffective overtime and forcing new technology
Claire believes that female engineers can also play a good role in the engineering field and are essential. When she first joined the company, except for the product testing team, she was the only female engineer. But as more and more research on workplace diversity emerged and society gradually paid attention to the problems caused by the lack of diversity, the company also became more aware of the need to balance the gender gap.
She found that since the increase of female engineers in the company, there has been a significant improvement in “ineffective overtime.” Based on her observations, she found that most female engineers are not fond of working overtime, so one of the reasons why ineffective overtime may decrease is that other male colleagues gradually realize that it is possible to have good project output without working overly hard. Additionally, she has noticed that in the past, engineers would often “force new technology” onto unsuitable projects, but since the increase of female engineers, this situation has become increasingly rare.
Claire emphasizes that it is not because of female leadership that these changes have occurred, but rather that the addition of female engineers has brought different voices to the workplace. Perhaps these voices are not necessarily correct, but they can provide the team with different directions for thinking and discussing, leading to the development of a diverse culture. In fact, not only gender, but diverse professional fields and cultural backgrounds can also positively influence the work environment and output.
Increasing the proportion of female engineers may be the first step, but it is not enough to achieve a diverse and harmonious work environment. Claire shares that if female engineers want their voices to be heard and adopted by everyone, they must first gain recognition from their colleagues for their abilities. “Improving oneself and gaining recognition from the team” is an indispensable prerequisite. With recognition and value, it is easier to have an impact. Claire said, “When my suggestions are slowly accepted and seen, and I also see the success of the project, I feel a great sense of achievement.”
How to Build Good Relationships in a Workplace with a Large Gender Imbalance
Although the gender gap is significant in the workplace, and from college to the workplace, the majority of Claire’s classmates and colleagues were male, she still feels that she is out of place. Especially after work, not going to play sports or drink (with women) with male colleagues reduces opportunities to build relationships with colleagues and obtain information.
Despite this, Claire, with her extensive work experience, has found a good way to deal with it: “I choose to do my job well and improve my abilities, at least making them respect you.” At the same time, she also shared a small secret: “Try to help them as much as possible, such as helping them solve problems, at least this way they will want to have a good relationship with you.”
Conclusion: Participate in external activities to increase confidence.
Finally, Claire encourages young girls who are interested in information technology not to be afraid to participate in hackathons or technology discussion communities. She shared that when she participated in a hackathon, she received praise from the organizers, which greatly increased her confidence: “I thought I did a bad job, but everyone thought it was great, so I wondered if I really did a good job (laughs).” She encourages everyone to participate in external activities and communities, whether it’s a hackathon or a technology discussion group, because the people you meet at these events have no vested interests with you, not only do you feel comfortable interacting with them, but you are also more willing to encourage each other.
I am honored to have the opportunity to interview Claire today and have a glimpse into the lives of female engineers today, as a student with a dream of becoming an engineer. What kind of harvest does her life experience bring to you? Feel free to leave a message and share with everyone!
Note: A hackathon is a combination of “hack” and “marathon” and usually refers to a group of programmers who spend about two days brainstorming innovative ideas and programming prototypes.