According to the UN, women hold only two in every ten science, engineering, and information and communication technology jobs globally.
BrainStorm Software, Solutions Architect Lorena Lopes Santana can attest to this, as she was the only woman in her computer engineering degree. She has had an aspiring career path in technology, something she held a passion for since she was a young girl watching the F1’s in Brazil.
“It’s wonderful to see the enormous focus around STEM these days, I wish it were around when I was a young girl living in Brazil.
My love for tech, sprang from my love for F1 as a kid in the mid-90’s.
I was fascinated with the engineering behind making the cars go so fast, and learning about it started to be a thing for me. I used to say that one day I would work in the motorsport industry, and I loved maths, which was a bonus. I was about seven years old, and that’s where the dream began for me,” she said.
Fast forward to the early 2000s, Santana found herself at Faculdade Área 1 university studying a computer engineering degree, where she graduated and received honourable mention as the Student of the Year. However her time there was not all smooth sailing as she was the only woman enrolled in the course.
“I was the only female in my class for about 90 per cent of the course. Initially, there were two of us, then the other lady decided to change courses around the third semester.
“All the jokes in the class were ‘men jokes’ and sometimes some very unpleasant comments about women. It was like you’re invisible.
“Teachers would sometimes underestimate you because you’re a female, it was like I had to prove myself all the time, which is very tiring,” she explained.
Whilst studying, Santana worked as a junior maths teacher via the university in a program called MyMathlab by Pearson Education.
The program was developed to assist high-school students in mathematics and, since its inception in 2001, has grown to help 3 million students every year.
“Teaching people has taught me how to deal with human beings and how to explain things simply.
When I was towards the end of my degree, I undertook internships with technical support, project management, software development, customer tech service, one after the other; this enabled me to work in some pretty big projects and technologies, like Brazil’s FIFA world cup websites and supporting systems.”
With the internship experience in hand, she landed her first job as a Software Programmer, and, a year later, moved on to become a System Analyst for multiple companies.
“This job gave me great insight into ERP’s (Enterprise Resource Planning Systems) and I was also training interns to become future system analysts. Some days I would teach them how to code and, some days, how to write specs and deal with customers. I worked as a system analyst in different levels for another six years.
At some point, around 2015, I started developing websites for companies across the world, including Australia, which was a great coincidence as I was about to move there with my partner. I opened my own business, developing websites.
This has led me to where I am now working as a Solutions Architect for BrainStorm Software.”
The past 15 years in tech, has taught Santana many things, and most of all, to never underestimate yourself.
“Tech is such a great career path, you get to learn something new every day, and there is so much more to be discovered. I’d tell any girl out there that has a dream to work in tech, like I had, to just go for it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be whatever you want to be, because they will try. You are capable, study hard, and you’ll get there. Tech, Maths, Physics and IT are not a “man” thing.”
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