Diversity in tech with Maryam Farshbafi

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Diversity and inclusion in the tech sector has received much attention over recent years. But statistics show that there are still holes to be filled. 

Just 15% of the tech workforce are from BAME backgrounds, and gender diversity is at 19% compared to 49% for all other jobs.

Many industry leaders and influencers are taking action to ensure the tech industry is more diverse and inclusive. But we have to try harder. 

We spoke to Maryam Farshbafi, a Web Developer living in the United States. Here’s what she had to say about what can be done for women and immigrants in the tech sector.

What does diversity mean to you?
From my perspective, diversity means equal opportunity between a group of people. Diversity means all races, genders, religions, ethnicities, and backgrounds come together, regardless of their differences. It’s important that everyone can understand and respect each other. 

What value does diversity – of all types – bring to technology?
One critical point of diversity is avoiding discrimination in groups and organizations. We are living in the digital age, and technology has affected all dimensions of our lives. Diversity in tech takes this to another level; it allows for creativity and problem-solving. Diverse teams are more profitable; they have better ideas, teamwork is improved, and productivity increases. Which ultimately, leads to a better product with service and a better brand.

Have you always felt included and welcome in previous workplaces?
I was fortunate to work with great people who always welcomed me and treated me the same way regardless of my culture, gender and background. Occasionally, I had minor issues which I always liked to solve as a group member. 

You've accomplished a lot; do you feel like you've had to work harder than colleagues?
As an immigrant woman in the tech industry, I always have to work twice as hard to show off my ability, gain respect and earn trust from my supervisors or peers. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of immigrant women in the tech field, and  I have experienced discrimination from school up until now. 

How did your tech journey begin? What made you want to work in tech and learn to code JavaScript?
I come from an engineering background and worked for over two years in a city hall before I moved out of my country. When we arrived in Canada, I couldn’t speak English so I started to teach myself. After four years, my husband and I moved to the US where I decided to go back to school. My first choice was Business Administration; I went after that, but in my second semester, I did a course in IT. In my second year, I did more courses related to tech, and I just fell in love with it. I changed my major to Information and Communication Technology. I took HTML and CSS courses in my third year, and I thought it would be great if I knew more about coding. That’s why I started learning JavaScript and after that, Java.

What do you like the most about JavaScript?
Logic. I’m a logical person and so it’s easy for me to relate to how it works and why it works in certain ways. JavaScript is a much more straightforward language than other coding languages, and it’s also got an amazing community that is super supportive and welcoming.  

What can be done to encourage more women to pursue a career in tech?
We need to provide a safe and diverse environment for women and young girls, as well as people from different backgrounds. This should start from a young age at school. Young people need to have the opportunity to discover different areas in tech and find their interests. 

What does a day in your life working in tech look like?
I mostly work and volunteer as an SEO Specialist and Digital Marketing Expert. Besides that, I code whenever I have time, to be productive. I have taken different courses, such as UX/UI, JavaScript, WordPress and SEO, to improve my knowledge and skills. Recently, I joined the 100Dev community which has motivated me to work on a JavaScript project.

What are some things you wish you knew when you started out in tech?
I wish I had access to better sources and mentors so I could have discovered the Developer community sooner. As humans, we need more widespread interaction so that we can learn and discover new topics. 

Who is your biggest role model/mentor?
One of my professors - she’s so strong and fought back even when things weren’t going her way. After losing her job, she re-trained and went back to school as well as taught herself to code before I met her, I thought it was too late for me to start, but her story changed my perspective and gave me hope that if she could make it, I could do it too. Nothing in this world is impossible as long as we believe in ourselves and recognize our ability. Even if it’s not easy and needs lots of work and encouragement, it will be worth the time and effort - as long as we keep going and never give up on our dreams. 

For more information, head over to @maryam_farsh on Twitter, or get in touch with us.

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