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Plug-In Mentoring for Girls

By Catarina Pinto
Catarina Pinto
Technology, mainly computers, is what I love. I'm also addicted to Adidas sneakers.
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Plug-In Mentoring for Girls
Women in technology has been one of the main topics of discussion for the last few years. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of negative ideas regarding this issue, but the Plug-In Mentoring for Girls scheme gives women working at FARFETCH the opportunity to show that these ideas are not a  reality.

My experience in technology started in 10th grade when I decided that I wanted to go on a computer course. I won’t deny that in the beginning, I was a little scared of the possibility of taking a course where the majority of students were boys, but I knew that I wanted to follow a career in technology so I went for it. When I started the 10th grade, in 2008, there were 6 girls out of 60 new students. The number of girls that joined the computer course that year was actually a record, they never had so many girls joining the course. I always wanted to work in technology and I was determined not to let the fact that there were mainly boys in my class be an issue. And it never was.

During my career, I had situations where my opinion and my review were not very well accepted by others and, inevitably, I asked myself: Did this happen because I am a woman? It might have been because of that or it also might be just because there were other opinions or suggestions that could work better. But the fact is that the question and the doubt is there, it's in our nature, it's in our culture. My main focus is always to do my work the best way I can because I don’t want people to see me as a woman, I want them to see me as a Developer, as their colleague, because that is what I am and it should not matter if I am a woman or a man.

The Plug-In Mentoring for Girls initiative allows us to show young girls what it means to be a Woman in Tech, and also that working mainly with men is not an issue. One of the ideas that I shared with my mentee is that we might experience moments when we may think that our ideas are not being accepted or that we are not evolving as we wish to in our career because we are women, but that should not prevent us from pursuing and achieving our goals. I also aimed to show my mentee what my daily work looks like, with the main focus on team dynamics. I work in a team of 8 people and I’m the only woman, and it was fun to show her that everything is as normal as possible. We laugh, we make jokes, we debate different ideas because, in the end, it doesn’t matter who we are but how we are as a team. She participated in our daily standups, in our retrospectives, and also in some technical presentations regarding FARFETCH and how we work. This gave her the opportunity to learn how teams work in an Agile methodology, which is the methodology followed by almost all tech teams. I also had the opportunity to give her some help on programming, once she started learning it in college.

I also organized sessions with other women at FARFETCH who are managers, leads, testers, developers, and others, to give my mentee the opportunity to learn about their experiences, different career paths and what she can accomplish in the Tech world, particularly at FARFETCH. 

This initiative gives us the opportunity to show how we work as Developers, helping these new college students to see, learn and have more information regarding the careers that they can follow once they graduate. It gives direct access to the professional world with people from different careers. The mentee has the opportunity to learn, to have someone helping her during the first year at college, to see how we work and, mainly, to understand what it means to be a woman in the tech world.

I encourage every girl that wants to follow a career in Technology to just go for it. If that is what you love, don't be scared. It's a great journey, you will make amazing friends and you can have all the success you dream of, you just have to work for it like everyone else.
For every woman at FARFETCH, I encourage you to be a mentor. For me, sharing my experience and showing my mentee the world of FARFETCH has been one of my greatest challenges and the one that means the most.  I helped her with her college assignments, I showed her my work, my team, my colleagues and that was wonderful. It is an opportunity to share experiences, knowledge, and maybe make a difference in a young girl’s life, who is taking her first steps in this world full of different challenges. Maybe we can inspire some girls to make a difference in technology, or maybe not, but at least we had a chance to contribute to her future. And I really hope to continue to follow the journey of my mentee after this program ends and to see her conquer everything that she has worked for.
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