WonderCoder of the month: Sheeba Qazi

Each month at WonderCoders, we meet an awesome female programmer, get some tips from her and find out more about her superpower.

Hi Sheeba! Tell us about what you do and who you are.
My name is Sheeba Qazi and I am an IT Consultant and run my own company. I work as a Software Engineer and I am specialized in Mainframe development.
My Academic background:
– Masters in IT, IT University
– Bachelor in Computer Science, De Montfort University.
– Datamatician, Niels Brock Business College

How long have you been in tech?
I started off my career in IT in 2001, when I completed my Datamatician diploma. I was hired by a company, who trained me in Mainframe development.
It’s been 16 years in tech. And during my full-time job I studied part time to achieve my Bachelors- and Masters degree.

How did you get into tech?
My dad bought me a desktop computer, when I was in high school at the age of 15-16. Back then not every household had computer. Being a family of seven, I became the computer-administrator at home. I played computer games and wrote my essays and was responsible of changing the printer cartridge and so on.
That is how my interest in tech started. I was very curious about computers, and so I got admission in the Datamatician course. I was a bit nervous about it, because I thought it was only something for guys. However, my dad encouraged me to pursue my career in IT.

How has your journey in tech been?
As I expected right from the beginning, during my journey in tech, the majority of people around me, has been male – whether it was at work or during studies. In the beginning, it did affect my confidence and I would question myself: “Is this really something for women”.
However, my journey has been very exciting. The education system and the industry acknowledge, that they lack women in tech. So, I have always felt encouraged to continue my journey.

Please share your challenges working in tech.
When I started my studies, I realized, that most of the male class-fellows did programming in free time and some even worked for small firms as IT developer. So, there was an obvious skill gap between female and male students. To reach that skill-level, I started to practice in programming and making small projects in free time too. And this made my confidence grow and I gained respect among the hardcore tech-guys (and the few girls).
Another challenge…
When I started working I had to learn many programming languages and different tools, which I didn’t learn from my studies. In fact, I didn’t use the programming language learned from studies at all. It was hard in the beginning, because I felt my education was useless. Technology is changing quickly, and companies do decide from time to time to switch from one technology or tool to another. You need to have a mindset, that is ready to adapt change. It’s not like you start from scratch, mostly you just build on. In fact, I was working on a project few years ago using 7 different programming languages. All languages have their purpose.

How did you overcome them?
I always have had role models to get inspiration from – male or female doesn’t make a difference to me. Built knowledge and experience. When you are building up your knowledge, you need to establish a network too. I have accepted, that I don’t have the answer to it all. I find resources, talk to the right people and find the solution. It is also a way of learning.

What’s your aspiration in your tech journey?
I am working with Mainframe Communities, making sure mainframe specialists can stand straight and proud, while mainstream technologies are getting all the attention in the industry. Mainframe saw better days in 70-80s, when it changed the computer industry. However, it is not beaten by any technology so far and I believe Mainframe specialists deserve, that tech communities worldwide recognize their skills and expertise, by creating awareness. Young developers don’t even know about the Mainframe technology nor the huge opportunities in that field.
The today’s Mainframe is modernized and therefore still core component in many businesses. If mainframes were shut down tomorrow, planes couldn’t fly, people will not get paid, we can’t go for shopping, the infrastructure of the Danish Welfare System will collapse and much more.

Please share with our readers why they should get a career in tech!
We consume tech products every single day. Tech is everywhere. Tech is developing the world and our lifestyle. Tech is changing our children. Get in the game and influence the future of development.

Any tips or advice for them?
Being in tech-industry, you must realize, that the main skill is the ability to adopt required technologies and tools continuously. It will boost your confidence, that you are not limited in skills and make your profile stand out.

Could you give us some ideas on how we can overcome the diversity gap in tech?
Tech has become such an important part of our lives. We lack women in tech, and it is important, that both men and women contribute to the development. Women are the consumers of the tech too, therefore we need women behind the ideas and development too.
Like my dad encouraged me, we need teachers/mentors and IT-companies to encourage and support women pro-actively.

Can you nominate our next WonderCoder for our next feature?
Mette Gonzales Broholm

At WonderCoders, we’re looking for stories to help inspire women to explore tech careers. Let us know if you’re a woman in tech, or know someone with tech superpowers. By sharing your story, you will help to build and encourage the community, and hopefully inspire a new generation of wonder coders.

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