Find the Right Place to Embrace Yourself

Headshot of Chantal Broeren

This is the first of two blogs written by DockYard engineers for Women’s History Month. You can find the second blog, by Aimee Boustani here.

My Journey

Since I was little, I’ve been interested in anything to do with creating, logic, and math. In high school, I took technical classes and I enjoyed them. Even though I was one of two girls in a class of 28, I never hesitated to choose those classes because I was doing the things I was interested in.

I didn’t go to college directly after high school because I wasn’t sure about my future wishes. I started working several jobs in mainly male-dominated fields in the tech industry. As I was debating between becoming a math teacher or an architect, one of my friends showed me his engineering curriculum and I fell in love with engineering. I learned to code, and what started as a hobby for many years eventually made me decide that software development was the thing I wanted to do.

I quit my job, went to college and, within a year, things turned around 180 degrees. I got invited to take a job at the university tutoring other students and also got my first job as a developer at a local startup, working on a complex and dynamic planning application. As I was able to make this my full-time job, college became the side project until I graduated on schedule.

For a long time, I was the only woman in the company, but that didn’t affect any of my work. I was appreciated for my eagerness to learn and the fact that I easily understood the logic of complex domain knowledge and development in general. I soon became the lead developer of our team. Although I was working on both the front and back end, I loved working with the Ember JS framework and this became my main expertise.

I looked up to everyone who was familiar with the Ember community as I attended meetups and conferences. DockYard was a big player in that field, and when one of my colleagues started working for DockYard, I made it my goal to make the same transition and join DockYard as well. I got out of my comfort zone and started attending more conferences, became a co-organizer of the national Ember meetup group in my country, and started speaking at meetups and conferences. I thought I needed to make these efforts to help me gain confidence and prove my experience to the world.

When I joined DockYard in 2019, I was kind of hesitant to be working together with other women, because I’ve never had any female friends or worked together with women before. But being part of a group that includes all these amazing women feels like a blessing. They bring a lot of joy, enthusiasm, and liveliness. DockYard is an awesome company to work for that treats everyone the same. DockYard employees are equally great—they all made me realize that I’m not outnumbered and that I have the same value as every other developer. I still want to share my knowledge, but don’t feel like I need to do extra work to be counted in as a woman in a male-dominated space.

A Place to Embrace Yourself

From the start of my career, I have had the luck to be part of a great and inclusive environment. The community around the Ember JS framework is great and helped me grow in confidence. Although I never felt like I was in the minority at any company, I used to feel like I had to convince people—or myself—of my expertise and let them know I existed to be able to keep working in tech as a woman.

The challenges in tech are interesting and sometimes hard, but as a woman I now know you don’t have to work twice as hard as others in the same role do if you’re at the right place. I love my job, see the challenge in every task, and like to see them as puzzles to be solved. None is impossible, and neither is the opportunity to join tech if that’s something you’d like to pursue. I’d encourage everyone to do so.

In general, I feel like the software development industry can be a really welcoming place. We don’t live in a world anymore where tech employees all conform to a single stereotype. And if you happen to land in an environment where people aren’t treated equally, trust yourself and find another place where you feel appreciated.

I feel more included and not “a woman in tech” anymore. I can see the urge to label a group to have a way to talk about them and raise awareness. And there are definitely still a lot of companies that don’t treat women the same or have a well-balanced team. But more and more companies are being more inclusive and there are many great initiatives that encourage, guide, and embrace women who choose a career in technology. Some of the global initiatives I have been involved with in the past years are Women Who Code and Women in Tech.

I hope that awareness will result in a time when we don’t need those initiatives anymore and we can all embrace ourselves as “Rockstars in Tech”, no matter what gender or background.


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Narwin holding a press release sheet while opening the DockYard brand kit box