Women in Tech: an interview with Margarida Garcia

@Gabriel Rodriguez

IE University grad and current VP of Developer Relations at source{d}, Margarida Garcia, sat down with us to talk about the role of women in tech.

Despite recent advancements in the field of technology, tech remains to be an industry in which women are underrepresented. This lack of gender diversity negatively impacts the corporate working environment by limiting the space for new perspectives and ideas. More women in tech companies creates space for a more dynamic working environment in which a variety of problem-solving approaches are available.

The tech industry only serves to benefit from an increased female presence. IE University grad and current VP of Developer Relations at source{d}, Margarida Garcia, sat down with us to talk about the role of women in tech. She shared her experience in the exciting world of tech entrepreneurship, and reflected upon how to encourage more women to pursue a career in technology.

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Can you tell us a little about Tyba and source{d}?

Tyba was born in September 2011. Its first mission was to improve junior recruitment by offering users a platform where they could build professional profiles and showcase their skills and interests. We soon realized that the start-ups we were working with could also use a profile page to allow them to represent their corporate identity.

We visited over 800 startups in 10 months but unfortunately (or, fast forward to today, rather fortunately) we were not seeing the traction we’d expected. Around a year ago, while recruiting for our own engineering team, our own CTO suggested we ranked developers, who had contributed open source, based on PageRank (the first algorithm used by Google in its first version, around 2007).

We started running a couple of pilots, and the results were great from the start. This eventually led us to fully focus our resources on what we later called source{d}. In the last 12 months, we have analyzed code from over six million developers worldwide, and helped over 100 clients grow their engineering teams. We recently sold Tyba.com in order to focus all our energy on building source{d}. 

Women in Tech at IE University

What prompted you to pursue a professional career in a tech start-up?

I was looking for a challenge. I wanted to be in a role with lots of responsibility from day one and where I would feel like I was building something. When I joined Tyba, I was only the 5th employee working on building our Ambassador Program. We had over 150 students across Europe and the US promoting Tyba and sourcing candidates for us on the ground. At the time, I was still writing my final thesis, so that was a challenge at first. But things moved quickly. I was learning so much in such a short time, and I ended up staying.

It’s been more than three years since I started! A lot has changed (myself included!) but I’m still working in the same fast-paced, experimental, demanding, and exhilarating environment I started in.

Tell us about your role as VP of Developer Relations. What are some of the responsibilities and challenges that you face on a daily basis?

I currently lead a great team of ten engineers who are helping our clients build their engineering teams. They cultivate relationships with developers, interview them, and ultimately introduce great talent to the companies that we work with. Armed with a computer science degree, they do not have any difficulty assessing technologies and developers’ backgrounds.

On the tech side, they are the experts, and have a lot to teach me. For them, the hardest part of the job is building relationships with clients, identifying priorities, and managing their time. I believe that together, we are able to fill in our respective knowledge gaps by embracing our differences. I support them with account and project management, and they support me with their tech expertise.  

What are some of the biggest technology challenges the world faces today?

There are countless trending topics in tech at all times and each area faces its own unique challenge. I believe one area that is often overlooked despite its crucial importance is the tech talent shortage.

In the US alone, almost half of the entry-level profiles are STEM-related, while only a third of the population graduates from a STEM degree. Last year alone saw over 600,000 IT jobs in the US left vacant due to a lack of STEM grads. This will only get worse in the next few years, particularly for computer science majors. In the coming years, IT jobs will double and the number of computer science grads will fall short.

Positions will go unfilled, meaning innovation will slow down. Alternatives to formal education will become increasingly common and will be of major importance when trying to minimize the skills gap. However, it is paramount to encourage more and more young people to follow a career in STEM, and even more importantly, to encourage women and other underrepresented groups.

Women in Tech at IE University

Technology continues to be a primarily male-dominated field. What steps should be taken to attract more women to tech careers?

I really hope to see a day when topics about women in tech are less about how to enter a field dominated by men, or how hard it is to stick around, and more about all the positive aspects of working in tech and how many women are excelling. Tech offers you the chance to work with really intelligent, ambitious people who want to build amazing things.

At a more practical level, it offers you flexibility; an environment where you can be sure to learn new and interesting things every day and where people are valued for taking initiative and ownership over the work they produce. While we definitely need to take action to maintain women in the industry, I believe we should equally focus on encouraging more women to join the industry. I feel that it will all come down to a delicate balance between identifying role models within the industry, the push of companies for a more diverse tech sector, and the right incentives from public policy towards gender equality.

Women in Tech at IE University

What would be your message for women trying to break into the field of technological entrepreneurship?  

Focus on your work, let it speak for itself. Never underestimate your skills and, most importantly, respect yourself. Say yes to challenging projects, even if that means you’ll have to figure out things along the way and you might think it’s too much at first. Ask for help when you need it and be proud of your achievements once you get there.

Most of the things you will be working on at a startup or at your company will be firsts, and no one really knows the right answer. Ask questions, test different things, and be open to as many ideas as possible until you find an answer.

Keeping up with new trends in such a fast-paced, demanding environment can be a challenge. But you should never stop learning. In the coming years, I am sure more and more women will get into tech and the gap will decrease. The more it does, the easier it will be to stick around as you will find more role models and an even more adapted workplace. Still, we are far from that and it is everyone’s responsibility to make it happen – women and men alike.

 

**Special thanks to Margarida Garcia who helped us write this post!