Antía Salgado Suárez, works as Embedded Software Engineer who recently relocated to austria to start a new challenge.
How did you become a woman in tech – what is your background?
Growing up, I always loved languages, Galician is my mother tongue, so I went on to study Spanish, English and a basic level of French. They came to me much more easily than history! At 18 I discovered coding at university, and was fascinated by the logic behind programming: for the first time I was able to give a subject my full attention! Moreover, my mother always encouraged this direction, the fact that my father did not, only fuelled my desire more.
My first break in technology was working as a developer, on my first real contract in Spain, using Java. During my time there, I was able to put all my education to use with object-oriented programming. Even though I enjoyed my time in this position, I wanted to move on to a role where I would be able to use C and C++.
What was the reaction of your personal environment?
When I started working in this male-dominated industry, I learned that when men are talking with each other, their sense of humor is more aggressive in its nature than with women. I learned to toughen up and brush off their jokes.
My colleagues were always supportive, but as the only female, I could feel my workmates react towards me differently compared to others on the team. Subconsciously, I think, they were constantly trying to demonstrate they knew more than me. This was my experience at one company, but on a greater scale I would say that men in tech, in general, usually see me as a woman first, before a technician.
What would you do differently the next time (on this path)?
If I’m being honest, there is not a lot I would change on my journey so far. But I would tell myself to care less about other’s expectations of me, to be more fearless and to not be scared to ask questions – to put my hand up in class if i don’t understand and ask teachers for advice after class too.
Do you have any recommendations for young women who are interested in a career in tech?
Less than a year ago, a colleague gave me one of the most useful pieces of advice I have ever received. He told me, „You must have low expectations, but always high standards“.
In my case, standards represent my ambition to succeed in every company that employs me. Sometimes engineers feel demoralized for not being as proficient as they feel they should be, whilst using technology that others have used for many years. When failure is on the table, don’t run away from it, always face your fears! Your high expectations are likely to make you feel frustrated, just replace them with high ambition or high standards.