Gerty Engrie 3

Women who code in the Umbraco community: Gerty Engrie

Gerty's thoughts on coding, Umbraco and gender equality in tech industry

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For International Women's Day, Umbraco community member Gerty Engrie shares her thoughts on coding, Umbraco and gender equality in tech.

A little about yourself.

I’m 33 years old and a mom of 3 boys. I work at District01 as an Umbraco Developer. We’re based in Ghent, Belgium.

How did you come across Umbraco?

I got introduced to Umbraco - version 3.0.2 at that time, 11 years ago - by Tim Geyssens (thanks Tim for taking the time to educate me 😉 ) and I was hooked. I’ve been an Umbraco developer ever since.

How long ago and what brought you to coding in general? What do you enjoy about it?

My dad is into computers. When I was little a computer was something that was homemade. It was huge and had those clunky buttons, it was awesome! I learned my ABC from a DOS program…

When I was a teenager I got bored on spring vacation so dad got me a VB6 course. I didn’t finish it… got myself a frontpage website instead. Haha, I know, right, different times! Next up, an image-ready site followed by a flash website with iframes. I was fascinated and continued the learning process by attending an IT school. I was one of the 3 girls in my year… out of 180 students.

When you decided to enter this industry, were you concerned about facing prejudice as a woman? If yes, what were your concerns?

I never really stood still about the prejudice towards women. Since I was a little girl I would accompany dad to work in the holidays and do all sorts of IT related stuff. From ghosting computers to labelling UTP cables.

I was somewhat part of the support team, loved it. Since I was still only a kid, it also made the men from support defend me when needed. As I grew up they kind of challenged me and I got better at giving them a suitable reply. They taught me to speak up for myself.

Do you think the industry is changing for the better? What do you think would help to increase gender diversity in the tech community?

I really think the industry is changing but honestly, I’ve almost never come across people who were not treating me right.

What advice would you give to someone looking to make a career move and learn to code?

A week ago we’ve had students come by our office and I was actually instantly counting how many girls and how many boys there were. Even though there were more girls than ever percentage-wise, 2 girls came by my desk to ask me how it was like being the single female in the office.

I joked about it at first and told them that my colleagues didn’t have the guts to be disrespectful to me (I have awesome colleagues by the way, we have a lot of fun and respect each other) but quickly realized the other side of their question. I’m relieved and sad at the same time. I gave them the advice to believe in themselves and to speak up. Girls, YOU CAN DO THIS!

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