Each month at WonderCoders, we meet a woman in IT, get some tips from her and find out more about her superpower. This month our role model is Victoria.
Hi Victoria! Tell us about what you do and who you are.
My name is Victoria, and I am a Data Scientist at the DSB Digital Labs. We are a “rogue unit” in DSB dedicated to bringing the startup approach and innovation to this ancient organization. These days I work mainly on predicting the number of passengers on trains, intelligent pricing for DSB Orange tickets and predictive maintenance – forecasting when a train is going to break down.
How long have you been in tech?
Since as far back as I remember, but more seriously I’ve been involved in the last about 10 years.
How did you get into tech?
Initially, it was my parents who signed me up for a programming course back when I was in elementary school. Since then I have been more or less involved in one way or the other – making the odd website for a friend, helping my family with computers…
I got seriously into coding around the third year of my bachelor’s as a way to get better at analyzing data. Before I knew it I had taken several online courses and getting seriously into data science and AI
You have studied Psychology and psychopathology and IT at college. Could you please tell us a bit more about this.
Yep. I went for psychology, because I wanted to do something science-y with my life, and I have always been interested in the way people perceive, learn and process information. Of course, we also had quite a few courses on the softer side as well – how to communicate, how to run therapy sessions, etc. Things that at the time I was not particularly interested in, but I find quite valuable now.
I mentioned above that I got into IT because of wanting to do better at data science. From there I started reading a bit about AI, and as a cognitivist, I was hooked – all these concepts about learning and perception, and you get to build something that does that! How cool is that! And no ethics committees! 😀 So that is how I applied for a program that focuses heavily on that and also how I ended up in Denmark.
What is your advice to students looking for an education in IT?
Learn your linear algebra and definitely do not overlook the “softer” courses about project management, communications and so on. It pays off.
How has your journey in tech been?
Like a Ferris wheel – it had its ups and downs.
What are your daily activities?
Drink coffee. Check email. Drink coffee. Code, analyze data or attend meetings. Drink coffee. Teach fencing. Go home. It is a lot more interesting than I make it sound, honestly.
Could you share some of the challenges you’ve faced as a woman in tech?
I have never experienced any of the sexism horror stories you see shared on the Internet. That said it is weird and lonely when you’re the only woman in the room and that happens often. And there is always this drive to show that yes you know what you’re talking about. My current team is pretty diverse, but I’ve been part of teams where I’m the only girl, and it felt like I had to work twice as hard as the guys, or argue twice as loud and state my ideas at least twice.
How did you overcome them?
I’ve learned to be a bit dominant and bossy and to speak up when something isn’t right. And I have a good support network outside of work.
What’s your aspiration in your tech journey?
World domination with an army of autonomous robots. Barring that, I want to get better at what I’m doing and maybe open my own robotics company in the future.
Please share with our readers why they should get a career in tech!
It pays well. It is the future. It is everywhere. Tech is one of those things that can be applied to any field – from mobile apps to agriculture and space exploration. Truly the sky is the limit.
Any tips or advice for them?
Just take the plunge and do it.
Could you give us some ideas on how we can overcome the diversity gap in tech?
Start early. A lot of our interests, likes and inclinations are formed very early on. And our society tends to teach that certain things are available for boys and certain things for girls. I bet many girls don’t even realize they can have a good career in tech until very late on. And having good role models also helps.
Do you currently practice computer programming and what is your preferred programming language?
Python. I use it mostly in the context of machine learning. R can be pretty useful for that as well. I get mild nausea from js though.
What are your visions for IT in the future and what are your greatest concerns?
I expect to see a much growing role of AI, automation, sensors everywhere and VR. All those are very promising technologies, but I fear they will not be used for good. For example take the surveillance state they are building in China, where you get citizen scores that are modified by who you hang out with and what you post on social media. Things like that are truly scary and downright dangerous for our freedom. And of course, there is job automation, which is bound to disrupt many businesses and put a lot of people out of their jobs.