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Women in IT: The experience of Doctor Web's team

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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

It’s still a very common stereotype that IT professions are more suited to men than to women. We want to dismantle this stereotype one more time, so we talked to some female Doctor Web IT specialists about their experiences.

It’s important to understand that, according to one study, 41% of the women working in IT ultimately leave the field—while for men this figure is only 17%. To talk only about the positive experiences of women in IT is to fall into survival bias: this way, we will never learn about those who could not overcome the stereotypes.

In the Doctor Web development center, almost a quarter of the specialists (24%) are women. We invited them to share their thoughts about what it's like to be a woman in IT and what they think about our industry.

Daria, Tester

IT experience: 3 years

Work experience in Doctor Web: 10 months

I am a tester in the Network Projects Department—we are responsible for the site for users, our employees, partners and businesses. Specialists in our department create new sections, pages, and banners for the site—I check them for bugs and layout errors. And I try my best to break it: I try to predict user activity; in fact, I put myself in the user’s place and reproduce their behaviour, including taking the most illogical actions, to check all the options on how the site is displayed.


I can’t say that in my childhood I wanted to become an IT specialist. I became a tester recently; before that I worked in mobile application technical support for a small startup company. I worked a 2/2 schedule, but I took extra shifts and worked a 6/1 schedule, 12 hours per day. I was chasing after money since Moscow is a very expensive city.

Then I started developing my skills and became a technical specialist. At that moment, various online courses had been gaining in popularity, and I realised that this was my chance: I saw what kind of product we were releasing—it was crude and users were dissatisfied. I decided to become a tester in that company. I took courses, spent a lot of money (thinking they would pay off in 2–3 months), and for the next six months, I didn’t communicate with anyone and didn’t go anywhere to hang out; I only studied and worked. I completed half the course, and in spring 2022, the whole staff was dismissed. I completed my course in 2 months, published my CV on HeadHunter, and began to communicate with Doctor Web specialists. At the final interview with the head of the department, I honestly described what I knew and what I didn’t know, and asked them to fill in my skills gaps. During my three months of probation, my supervisor taught me everything I didn’t know!

About the IT sector

Being an IT professional means always being in the mainstream: you understand where the market is moving and what you need to learn, and you are constantly developing. You can be an expert, but if you don’t move from a dead point, don’t look ahead—no matter how old you are and what your position is—you are out of the game.

I value my job, especially when I am able to be really useful and needed, when we have a lot of interesting tasks to work on, when we need to figure something out on our own: in these moments I am gaining experience, and experience in our world is everything. And, of course, money!

And the most difficult thing, I think, is the moment you understand you want to change your profession and switch to IT but don’t know where to begin. You don't know what to do first and what training courses to take, and you need to figure it out by yourself. If you’ve worked as a chef all your life, it’s difficult to get it through your head that you’re going to be a tester! And it’s very important to find time to study—you may have to give up parties, but you need to set a goal and go for it. There is a labour market, and people are needed. The more knowledge you invest in yourself and the faster you apply it in your work, the faster you’ll earn money. And we must keep on learning! But when you have already learned something and achieved some result, you want to learn further and achieve even more.

About women in IT

We used to imagine an IT specialist as a guy wearing glasses, sitting in a tiny room and writing code. But this could also be a girl—if she is interested in this, all the ways to get there are open to her. In certain circles, if you are reputed to be a good specialist, it doesn’t matter whether you are a guy or a girl!

But stereotypes, of course, exist. For example, when people meet me, they often don’t believe that I work at Doctor Web; they think that I have some other profession—for example, no profession at all. They think I'm pretty, which means I don't work and some man is paying my way. And I support myself! But when I went into this industry, I also had a stereotypical attitude towards myself. For example, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be hired because I’m a girl, and blonde, and I must have said something stupid at the interview. Therefore, I advise everyone who wants to get into IT to find support! Including in the community of women—there are a lot of us. There are chat rooms, communities where you can always ask for support and some advice.

And, of course, I want there to be more women in IT—so that they, if they want, can work remotely, earn good money, and not depend on their husband and family! So that they could learn, develop and have a trouble-free life. And I want them to come to our company to gain experience.

Tatiana, Project Manager on the Web Services team

IT experience: 14 years

Work experience in Doctor Web: 10 years

Our team is responsible for the company’s web services, except for the Dr.Web Enterprise Security Suite website and products. That is, we are in charge of web applications—such as Dr.Web FixIt!, a service for specialists that helps remotely diagnose cybersecurity incidents. Or Dr.Web Telegram Bot for link checking—that’s also our service.

Our department turns beautiful images from layouts (developed by the usability department, but we usually participate in the process and work closely together) into working applications so that everything can be tested and everything runs correctly. That is, we deal with both the client part (the frontend) and the server part (the backend). It's like in a car: there’s what the driver sees—the buttons and the pedals that they press, the steering wheel that they turn; this is all the frontend, the client part. And everything that is under the hood that makes the car move and respond to the buttons—the radiator, pistons, and filters is the server, the backend part. Specialists who work in DevOps make the car available to users and makes everything possible so users will be able to drive it.


My first encounter with IT was in the form of punched cards that were used at home as bookmarks for science fiction books. Then, in the early 2000s, in the eighth grade, I had my first computer, and it completely captured me. How that all works was very interesting to me—the computer, the Internet, programs, and games—what’s inside and what could be done with it next.

So, after graduating from school, I got a university degree in information technologies.

After that, I worked as a system administrator, and then I changed my focus, first to testing, and then to web services. I have been working at Doctor Web for almost 10 years—first, in the testing laboratory, and then I was asked to create a frontend development team, which eventually evolved into the current Web Services team.

About the IT sector

As for me, the most interesting thing about IT is that every three to five years, you can slightly change the vector of your development and thereby continue to maintain your interest and expand your knowledge. Working in IT can be interesting for a very long time. At the same time, all the experience picked up previously will definitely help in the future and will not disappear. So, I want to say to anyone who is thinking about going into IT: go! Go if you're interested in it. It’s possible to be engaged within IT in completely different areas; this sector is very diverse: there’s development, testing, analytics, UI, administration, and management.

It's great when people do what they enjoy—and I especially appreciate my work when our project is released and the release news posts appear on specialised resources such as Habr or Hacker. We’re very happy when good reviews are written about our company—we’re very pleased; we send them to each other and celebrate.

About women in IT

I don’t care about the gender of my colleagues—for me it’s important that people like what they do, that they have a spark in their eyes, and that they continue to develop. And I don't really like working with people who go into IT because it’s profitable and prestigious.

Of course, the majority of people in our profession are men—but in society there is a historically rooted imbalance in the technical occupations. Fifteen years ago, there were far fewer women in IT, and now I see how this ratio is gradually changing—for example, I see a lot of women at conferences. I don’t think it’s worth it to artificially influence this ratio. And it seems unnecessary to me to specifically create a community of women in the IT field. I wouldn’t want this attitude to be connected to gender—I want professional skills to be evaluated first.

At the same time, during training, I regularly encountered stereotypes about IT women. There were four women in the group, and some of our groupmates could afford to make rude remarks or even shaming phrases like “Oh, you don't know about LJ? Have you only come here because you thought there’d be a lot of good-looking guys here?!“ We also heard utterances like "A woman programmer is neither a woman nor a programmer”. Typical attitude! It’s all too familiar.

Among the teachers, too, there was a different attitude: female students were required to attend classes regularly—that affected both grades and the writing of the diploma—while male students were allowed to skip; after all, they had to work. It was as if girls couldn’t work. As a result, I usually attended classes and worked in the summer, sometimes in the fall. But it was difficult to combine on-campus classes and work.

After graduating from university, when I was looking for a job, I encountered IT vacancies indicating the sex of the job candidate they were looking for—male, of course. That made me laugh, but I still responded to the job offers—with the comment that if that’s so important to them, I can go to work in trousers. As a result, I found a job as a technical support engineer—that wasn't with an IT company. At this job, colleagues wondered if I was embarrassed when they used obscene language, and whether I could hold a screwdriver and a soldering iron in my hands. And, of course, they asked, “How did you, a girl, get into system administration?" It sounded like system administration was strange for a girl and generally a dead-end. Such things are said by those who see the IT department as service staff and don’t understand that in every IT area, one can develop and grow.

But after that, I worked in IT companies and, frankly, I’ve never encountered such nonsense, especially at Doctor Web. Of course, this is just my experience.

Veronica, Webmaster

IT experience: 1.5 years

Work experience in Doctor Web: 4 months

I work as a webmaster/front-end developer. Our department is engaged in website development—so that everything works well, looks beautiful, and is updated in time. We publish news posts and reviews, prepare emails for distribution, update pages, lay out landing pages and new pages—so that the design layout from Figma comes alive, is displayed on the Internet and can be used by customers.


I became interested in website development at school, but for further training I chose another qualification, and as a result—I am a master of strategic management. In 2021, I realised that many of my friends had finished IT training courses and remembered that I was once interested in IT development. So, I decided to try to complete a front-end course. Sometimes it was very hard, but it was also very interesting. But, most important, there was that wonderful feeling you get when you realise that you are doing what you really like.

Then I became a senior student where I studied, helped new students understand the theoretical part and gave recommendations on how to correct coding errors. I was also a mentor-reviewer (in the area of front-end for schoolchildren), helped children do homework on the covered topics, shared useful materials, conducted a code review, gave recommendations for correcting errors and made decisions on pass/fail. And now I'm on Doctor Web’s team!

About the IT sector

The main thing when working in IT is to not lose your curiosity, to not be afraid to try new things and to not worry when something doesn’t work out the first time. It’s important to not be afraid of making mistakes, because there’s no progress without mistakes, and to ask for help. Nowadays, there are a lot of “challenges” in the IT industry that didn't exist before. And constantly adapting to rapidly changing conditions is the most difficult thing in our profession. You need to be up to speed all the time and advance your knowledge.

I have a tip for anyone who wants to try themselves in IT: try it. There are many areas (frontend, backend, mobile development, and testing), and you will definitely like and be interested in something. Personally, I really like frontend because you can quickly see the result. And sometimes feel real magic when everything’s worked on the first attempt.

About women in IT

Of course, women's and men's experiences in this industry differ—those women who have recently entered this profession encountered many more obstacles along the way. For example, in childhood, boys are more likely to take training courses in robotics than girls. When I was in school, I was asked why I was reading a book about HTML, because development wasn’t for girls.

Stereotypes do exist, but it's great that there are fewer of them now. I personally haven’t encountered any unpleasant stereotypes, either during my studies or while working, especially at Doctor Web. Opportunities are becoming equal for all—the same online courses are available to almost everyone. But I want to see more women when I look through the list of speakers at some IT conferences, so that we can get together and share our experiences. There are different communities of women in IT—for example, the international organisation Women in Tech. It will be cool if other similar communities appear. It's great that when discussing various IT topics, you don’t need to worry that you’ll be looked at the wrong way.

The Anti-virus Times recommends

Usually in this part of the article, we have a block of recommendations, but today is a festive, unusual issue—so there will be congratulations and recommendations.

First, we congratulate all women on this wonderful day—March 8th! We hope that what you’ve read will inspire you to many bold decisions that may become the most important in your life.

And with that we have our recommendation, and it’s for everyone: study, learn new things, and don’t be afraid to try things and ask questions—and one day, all this will more than pay off and turn into a dream come true.

#history #myth #psychology #technologies


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