Shirin Alhroob interviews Iren Demirtoie, a student from Istanbul Technical University, who is pursuing a career in computer programming. They discuss how computer programming skills can improve women's likelihood of employability, the obstacles that prevent women from becoming involved in the IT sector, and gender equality in the workplace.
Shirin Alhroob: When you were a child, were you interested in using computers?
Irem Demirtoie: Yes. While I was a child, I was very interested in computer in general, playing games, and coding. I learn coding in university.
SA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in IT programming or computer science?
ID: I was curious about computer engineering in general and my family was supportiveof me making my own decision and choosing the field I wanted.
SA: How often do you feel accepted by your male colleagues in the workplace or in school?
ID: University is fine—I guess—both in terms of my friends and my professors. Everyone is very supportive in general. The percentage of males is 80 percent compared to 20 percent female in the classroom. There are more male students than female students.
SA: What are the obstacles that prevent women in Turkey from becoming involved in the IT sector?
ID: Actually, I don’t know that much because I am a student. I think society doesn’t really want women to be in engineering careers. They usually say, ‘Are you studying engineering? Why you don’t study medicine or be a teacher?’ For example, in Turkey, if students have higher grade, they prefer to go to medical school rather than computer engineering. Also, women look at flexibility in working hours, so they may prefer teaching to computer engineering.
SA: How does IT programming open new windows of opportunity for women?
ID: In the IT sector, women can do many things and they actually don’t require physical strength. Men and women are the same in terms of skills, and women should be supported.
SA: How can IT programming skills improve women's likelihood of employability and allow them to work remotely?
ID: Personally, I prefer to work in the field, not from home.
SA: Is there gender segregation in the IT sector as observed in other sectors?
ID: Of course. From my experience in my previous internship, the percentage of women is less than men. Women are not supported that much.
This interview has been edited for clarity.