Let’s celebrate Women and Girls in Science!

International Day of Women and Girls in Science was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Since then, the citizen initiative 11F coordinates activities around February 11 to commemorate the date and work together towards eliminating gender stereotypes within the field of science and technology (STEM), among others.

For this, we were honored to have 4 brilliant women from both Optiva and EPAM teams answer a few questions about their experience around equality in the workplace, especially in the Media and Entertainment industry.

Nuria Alonso

Head of Professional Services at Optiva Media

Nuria started working in the TV world in 2005 as a developer, creating applications that supported Ono’s content and metadata ingest processes. From then on her career went through different projects and roles as a developer, lab manager, QA, QA lead and lately as Project / Product manager.

“In all these years I have been able to see how the world of television and viewers has evolved, with new habits and preferences, always changing and with new challenges to face.”

What do you like most about working in the television industry?

Precisely the continuous evolution and challenges that are presented, there is no time to get used to it or get bored. But on top of that, I love being able to work on such tangible issues as operators’ TV solutions, or third party applications as well known and used as HBO, Filmin, etc. You feel that your work has a direct impact on people close to you – even if sometimes you have to receive complaints too *laughs*.

Aksana Siarheyeva

Senior Director Systems Engineering at EPAM Systems

Aksana has been working at EPAM for more than 20 years. She started her career as a software engineer to then become project and resource manager, and finally director in software engineering.

“I definitely had to “fight” with myself to improve my confidence, expertise, and knowledge.”

Regarding your professional experience, have you had to face any obstacles or barriers to get to where you are today?

I cannot say that I faced any “unfair” obstacles, but I definitely had to “fight” with myself to improve my confidence, expertise, and knowledge (technological, managerial, and even psychological). But I believe it’s true for all employees no matter what their gender is. I think that the major challenge for female employees is balancing between family and work.

If you do not have support and someone who may “back up” you when it’s needed at home, then it’s very difficult to combine career-advancement-important activities with home tasks… Specifics of our work are such that there might be a need to stay later hours, or go on business trips, or go for study/certification during weekends… In such cases you have to prioritize… And not all do have a possibility to put family tasks/activities with lower priority.

María Martínez

Head of Media Management at Optiva Media

María was very interested in the world of TV since a young age, and since she discovered she was good at mathematics she decided to study Telecommunications Engineering without having it really clear. After graduating and discovering that I was more interested in it than I thought, I joined Optiva as an intern 9 and a half years ago and I have been gradually forging my career until today, going through different roles and projects always in the TV industry.

“One of the biggest issues is the lack of role models. If a girl never sees a woman as a representation of technological experts, she will wrongfully believe it is something for men and not for women.”

What do you think is the greatest added value of having equal presence of men and women in the TV industry?

I think it is important to have diversity in the teams because the greater the diversity, the more diverse and more productive ideas are fostered. There are thousands of studies that indicate that the greater the equality, the greater the productivity and happiness among the employees of a company. This diversity will be a breeding ground for much more creative ideas in a fluid way, something that will advance the TV industry and allow it to continue reinventing itself.

Marina Koch

Senior Director Product Management at EPAM Systems

Head of Product Management for The Americas Delivery at EPAM Systems, Marina has master’s degrees in mathematics and computer science from one of the top-tier Russian universities, as well as an MEng degree from Cornell. Led the development of game-changing products for growing industries including healthcare, life sciences, and eCommerce. She has 14+ years of experience and is motivated to apply her passion for technology and science to developing innovative products for a better future.

“Underrepresentation of women in STEM disciplines can limit the potential for innovation and progress in these fields.”

What actions do you think companies/universities should take to promote female presence in STEM disciplines?

I think that there is no single solution to promote female presence in STEM disciplines, but there are several actions that companies and universities can take to create a more supportive and inclusive environment for women in these fields.

Some of these steps should be aimed towards the overall gender bias while others should be very practical, such as offering flexible work arrangements for anyone balancing work and family responsibilities, offering equal pay and benefits to all employees, regardless of gender, or  dispelling sterotypes through female mentor and role models who have successfully navigated careers in these fields.

We want to celebrate you!

We at Optiva and EPAM are extremely proud of all our female colleagues for having that strength and passion, bringing us closer to equality in the tech industry each day.

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