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2
Gender equality

What do we need to
do to bring more women
to the IT industry?

Simply Wait
Leaders' opinion
Interviews with
women in top
positions

According to Stack Overflow, fewer than 10% of all software developers worldwide are women. Scientists believe that men and women have approximately identical innate aptitude for maths, while biological differences play a less significant role than most people think. In fact, even if these differences do affect the outcome, they tend to help people to join forces in looking for better solutions together. Kaspersky Lab’s female coders talk about what we can do to change these numbers.

It was generally accepted wisdom for centuries that exact sciences were an area where only men could excel. This defined the gender roles, determined development of public education, laid the foundation for cultural context. Many women never even entertained the idea that they could become software coders.

Kaspersky Lab, which is increasingly frequently seeing ladies among its IT experts, is sure that their numbers are only going to grow. The new Gen Z, comprising people born after 1995, is far less beholden to gender stereotypes than other generations. And this is already having an effect on the number of women who write code. But most importantly, when they look for a job, they get evaluated exclusively on their professional skills and are offered equal terms with men. Kaspersky Lab employees speak on how they became “techies” and offer advice to those who are only beginning to think about their professional life.

You can defeat stereotypes only
with your personal example

Anastasia Abrashitova

Senior Software Developer, Home User GUI
Development Team

In my senior years of high school, I realized that I was more of a techie than a liberal arts person, and got a transfer to the Information Technology Lyceum, where the curriculum included computer programming in addition to math. After acing the preliminary entrance test, I was admitted to the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics at the MSU. I picked the Chair of Computational Mathematics, which had computer programming in the curriculum. When it was time to look for a job, I discovered that just about nobody needed mathematicians, and if you didn’t want to gather dust at an obscure research institute, or work 9 to 6 at a financial services firm, your only choice was to write code. As I got closer to age 30, I decided to get into programming user interface, and I joined Kaspersky Lab.

I had an absolutely wonderful computer programming teacher at the Lyceum, Marianna Konstantinovna. She was around 70 at the time, and she had a huge amount of experience writing highly complicated code at the Soviet Union’s secret research institutes. She was a professional of the highest caliber, and for everyone she taught, this settled once and for all the question whether a woman could be a great software developer. Of course she can!

At some point I realized that I was interested in users as well as in coding. I want to create useful, user-friendly, intuitive software for real people, instead of just converting my time into ones and zeros in computer memory. Now I am making product that people around me use – my family, friends, acquaintances, and myself.

Sometimes we get glitches because we have more men than women in the company. For example, our building has four showers for men and not a single one for women. However, this has no effect on the atmosphere in the team.

You can defeat stereotypes only by your personal example. This is why I try to attend conferences and give lectures to undergrads so the ladies out there would see: female developers exist. I have wanted for some time to teach a high school coding lesson as part of our Coding Hour – I hope I can make it happen this year.

Our industry is progressive,
and that makes our thinking
progressive

Anna Larkina

Expert, Web Content Analysis Group

I have worked on the content analysis technology development team for almost 10 years.

One day, a very long time ago, I became a content manager as my second job. That’s when I set my foot on the “path of content” – from content generation to content exploration and analysis. My education as an art historian and my career lie in completely different planes, but, strangely enough, overall, everything I learned at university is helping me a lot in my work.

My work requires not only a specific set of professional skills, but also an understanding of trends in music, fashion, technology, and culture. One of my tasks is development of the Parental Control component.

Unfortunately, we live in a pretty conservative society, which still has established stereotypes of “female” and “male” professions. But I don’t see this in IT, where a female coder is a cause for delight rather than surprise. The world is changing for the better on the whole, and modern companies see value in professionalism and ability to think rather than in gender prejudice. It could just be that because our industry is progressive, and that makes our thinking more progressive, too :)

You need to study a lot — and that’s the biggest
challenge

Anna Malina

Senior Virus Analyst

At high school, I always had an interest in sciences, in technical subjects. I ended up enrolling in the Moscow Institute of Economics and Mathematics, the MIEM, Department of Computer Science and Telecommunications, to major in Automated Systems. I had many courses in programming, information science, math, I even took a course in information security.

My job is to research malware, as well as developing code to remove cryptolockers, de-obfuscation, format parsing, and malware detect automation. One needs in-depth specialist knowledge of math, cryptography, programming, therefore, I think doing this kind of work would be impossible without a technology degree in a field related to computer science. At least, that’s the case for me.

After graduation, I become interested in low-level components: systems programming, disassemblying, internal structure of executable files. That’s how I started doing reverse engineering. I decided for myself that the Lab was the most promising company for a reverse engineering expert to realize their potential. I like it that in the process of exploring malware, obfuscation methods and file formats you can always find out something new, something interesting.

To master this profession, you need to study a lot. This is the biggest challenge.

To master this profession,
you need to study a lot.
This is the biggest
challenge.

 

At least 30% of candidates are female

Alexandra Potemkina

Head of IT Service Desk

I have never been a coder, a programmer, or a systems administrator. However, an IT customer support manager needs the skill of working with both support staff and users, the desire to understand their needs and to help them, rather than technology-related skills. My education is only helping me in this: I got a teaching degree in math and computer science. Technical expertise would only help, of course, but in general terms all you need is good all-around erudite knowledge of IT and to be willing to figure out technology matters as deeply as you need.

The younger generation are less bothered by gender stereotypes. For example, we have the annual SafeBoard program, which tests university undergraduates for internships at Kaspersky Lab. All SafeBoard areas are heavily focused on technology, but at least 30% of the candidates are female.

That said, I’d like to see more ladies coming to job interviews for the IT Service Desk. The most important thing is to have the necessary knowledge and skills, and if you have successfully completed all the interview stages, you have proven that. All you have to do from that point on is just work.

All SafeBoard areas are heavily
focused on technology,
but at least 30% of
the candidates are female.

 

If it gives you pleasure,
then why not

Irina Skachkova

Front-end Developer

In my fifth year at university, I took a course called Web design, but it was actually an HTML editing and layout course. I found it fascinating, and decided to develop my skills in that field. I could spend all night doing assignments, I’d lose track of time completely.

It would be hard to grow without perseverance, dedication, and strong focus. Besides, creativity is very important in my profession, as is the ability to take an unconventional view of ordinary things, to think broadly.

If this is something that fascinates you, something that you like, something that brings you pleasure, then why not?!

“Women with a good
CV are no longer a surprise
in our field”

Noushin Shabab

Senior Virus Analyst

I specialize in reverse engineering. When I moved to Australia, I was looking for a job in this field but there was a slim margin of jobs at that time. However, after a few months, Kaspersky Lab (KL) placed an ad and I applied.

Unlike the other interviews I attended, KL was the only company to examine my technical skills. I received a task that had to do with a malware. Although I hadn’t done anything like that before, I jumped at the chance. Later, the manager said my results exceeded his expectations. That is how I landed my dream job.

I currently specialise in reverse engineering and targeted attack investigations. As part of the Global Research & Analysis Team (GReAT), our Australian team focuses on fighting cybercrimes in Asia Pacific.

Women with a good CV are no longer a surprise in our field. Despite male dominance in IT, there are an increasing number of women in cybersecurity. Among them, there are lots of experienced specialists who are deeply interested in the industry, and it’s important to encourage them to be more active.

As a cybercrime specialist I understand the importance of building a relationship with journalists. While representing the company and the team, there's another skill I practice everyday and that is sending a clear and informative message about the company’s position and educating the public in simple terms about the work we do.

I am inspired by the complexity of my job and the diversity of the tasks. The creativity of malicious attackers is constantly increasing which means new complex problems arise all the time that nobody has ever solved before.

I am not a superwoman but when I manage to solve a problem that looks impossible to solve at the beginning, I realize the significance of my work. But if I had to choose a superpower, I’d choose the power of flying.

My family have always been the greatest support and motivation to me. My parents were both high school teachers and inspired me with all their hard work and led by example. I got inspired by Persian literature and drew a lot of wisdom from it through my father and also developed a scientific mind thanks to my mother, who is a biologist.

I have a professional dream but it doesn’t have to do with what I want to achieve, rather, it’s about how I plan to realize it. I want to give it my best every day and gain more knowledge.

Women with a good
CV are no longer a surprise
in our field