There’s been a lot written about the gender gap in technology. The good news is that more and more companies are working to close the gender gap, and technology is helping as well. We’ve had a lot of feedback from both recruiters and engineering teams that CodeFights’ skills-based recruiting has helped them source, measure and hire candidates in a much more objective way.
Albina Ezus is one of our rockstar software engineers at CodeFights. She came up with all the challenges for Python world which is one of the five worlds in the CodeFights Arcade, and also created the initial version of our testing and interviewing applications. We wanted to share her story and recognize her contribution to CodeFights.
When did you know you want to be a software engineer?
Actually, when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor. Then, when I was in high school I realized that I was good in math and that influenced my desire to become a software engineer. It wasn’t until University that I decided I wanted to code.
When I first got to university I did well on a test that put me in the ‘premier class’ and we started to code in that class. A friend of mine made me join the ‘olympiad group’ which was an extracurricular group that met and worked on group coding exercises on weekends. This helped accelerate my coding skills and I started to tutor other students in math and computer science.
How was your experience as a female engineer when you attend university?
As part of the ‘olympiad group’ I didn’t really notice any difference between myself and the male members of my group. I did have to deal with a couple of ‘old school’ professors who didn’t want to spend a lot of time with female engineers.
How did you come to CodeFights?
Tigran (CEO) was looking for someone and knew my friend that ran the ‘olympiad group’ so that’s how I got connected. I started working at CodeFights part time while I was still in university.
As a new coder what was your first project at CodeFights?
Initially when I came to CodeFights I worked on our content team – that is the team that creates the challenges for the engineers that come to CodeFights. As I built up my skill set, I started to work on automation projects and the CodeFights admin tool.
When did you take on the testing and interviewing applications?
I started working on the applications about a year ago. It was really exciting because I was working on an application that our customers would see and use (as opposed to the back end application). While building these applications, I had to do a lot of product and competitive research, as well as work with our UI designer; this exposed me to a lot of new experiences.
Building a new application is kind of a big deal, were you afraid of failure?
Not really, I was really excited about taking on the new project and the new things I would learn and also share my ideas about the product. Since we had a long history of creating challenges for engineers on CodeFights, we had a lot of feedback from our developer community in terms of product design. This helped guide us in the initial stages and I worked pretty hard to get V1 of our application ready in 4-6 weeks. Now, not only do lot of companies use our testing and interviewing tools as part of their recruiting process, we also use CodeFights internally to assess our engineering candidates. This way, we are continually improving and updating the application.
What advice would you give other women that want to get into software engineering?
If you love coding then go for it. Don’t be afraid and remember that not everyone is threatening. The engineering community is pretty awesome — I’ve met some really supportive people. Regardless of the type of engineer you want to be, as long as you’re striving to be the best, you’ll get there. There are a lot of female engineering groups online and many of them can be very useful. Unfortunately, some members who publish their code online don’t have advanced programming skills, so they were the subject of discussions on Reddit and 4chan that used these coding samples as a basis to disparage women coders, and add biases against women in tech. At the end of the day, whether you’re a man or a woman you need to be a good coder – so it all comes down to the skills. Keep learning, practice, and let the work speak for itself.