Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science! Today, we're celebrating all the amazing women making waves in STEM and shining a light on the importance of equal opportunities in these fields. The UN declared February 11th as this special day in 2016 to promote full and equal access to science for women and girls and to support gender equality and women's empowerment.
At Natuno, we understand the critical role that diversity and inclusivity play in the success of our industry. That’s why we’re proud to have a team that’s more than half made up of women, including Dea Karina Khaerunnisa (UX Researcher) and Linda Ramadhani (UI Designer). To celebrate this important day, we chatted with these two talented women to hear about their journeys in the tech world.
From talking about their reasons for pursuing a career in tech to their challenges and future dreams, this conversation is something that you shouldn’t miss.
Hi! I studied Informatics Engineering, which is essentially a form of engineering. During my time in college, I learned things such as how to code in Java, build systems, create websites, and many more. My interest in the field started during my high school years when I attended a vocational school. Although I was enrolled in the office administration program, in my school there was also the software engineering program, which was dominated by boys. I was fascinated by what they were doing and wanted to learn more, so I decided to pursue it in university.
Additionally, I’ve always been curious about product development and how people build systems that are useful for others. Overall, I had a great time in college and learned a lot. Although it was challenging at times, I was still very passionate about my studies. And oh, the major I was in was also dominated by male, with a 70:30 male-to-female ratio.
I went to Universitas Indonesia to study Mechanical Engineering. During my high school years, I did a little research about different university programs in Jakarta and Jogja. I knew I wasn’t interested in biology, but I felt confident in my abilities with math and physics. So, I started looking into various study programs, reading descriptions, and learning about what graduates typically went on to do. And when I read about Mechanical Engineering, I thought to myself, “Wow, how cool would it be to make things such as machines!”
I enjoyed my time at university, but it was a big challenge, too. The subjects were tough, there were lots of exams, and there was so much to read. But I did my best to balance my academic pursuits with getting involved in student organizations. I wanted to gain a well-rounded college experience. And similar to Linda, I was in a major that was dominated by men. Out of the 156 students in my cohort, only 21 were women.
After I graduated, I wasn’t having much luck finding a job in the mechanical engineering field. I wasn’t too ambitious either, and I found that a lot of the job openings had a preference for male applicants as a main requirement to get the job. But then, a friend told me about the Apple Developer Academy, a 9-month program that focuses on coding, design, and professional skills. There were 3 main areas of focus: development, design, and business. I was more drawn to the design aspect, specifically UI/UX. I got to learn many things and after participating in the program, I started applying for jobs in this field and now I’m here at Natuno.
In college, I took the Human-Computer Interaction course which covered the topic of UX interaction, and my undergraduate thesis was also related to this. After graduation, I signed up for a mobile development course and was introduced to the world of UI design, including learning how to create mockups and wireframes. This course also introduced me to the role of UI designers in the job market.
Then I found myself more drawn to design rather than coding, which led me to start exploring it more by following UI/UX design communities and accounts on Instagram. One of which was @sittalkdesign, which turned out to be run by Mas Dimas, our CEO now! (Who would’ve thought, right?). I kept learning as much as I could, from YouTube tutorials to making case studies and working on my own portfolio. Eventually, I landed my role as a UI Designer at Natuno.
When I reflect on it, what I’m doing now is still connected to my engineering background. It’s just that instead of creating physical machines, what I’m now creating are digital products that can be useful for others.
“So the goal is still the same, to create products that can be useful and make a difference.”
I’d like to be a more expert UX researcher, and other than improving my current skills, I also love to learn and explore other things. Just like how I recently learned about service design and I think that’s interesting, too. Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll explore different roles within this field. Aside from this, since middle school I’ve also had this dream of contributing to education. I truly believe that education is the key to changing people’s lives for the better.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping others. I believe that design can play a huge role in that, and that’s what really excites me about it.”
Seeing the product or work I help to design being used by others and making a positive impact on their lives makes me happy. That’s why I think I’ll continue down this path and keep helping others through design. As for my career path, just like Dea, I’m still learning and exploring different aspects of the field. There are so many options out there, whether it be a design director, a product owner, or something else entirely. The opportunities are truly limitless, so who knows where I’ll end up. I’m taking it one step at a time and enjoying the process.
“Every time I complete a project, I feel like it’s worth celebrating and feeling proud of. I am proud of myself for having the courage to challenge myself in each project I work on.”
I view the projects I take on as a playground for personal exploration and learning new things. So whenever I finish one successfully, I am grateful for the opportunity to do so. I am also thankful for Natuno for providing me with these opportunities for growth.
“To be able to survive. Can I say that as an achievement, though?” (sure!!)
Looking back, I’m proud of myself for making it this far. I’ve finished a lot of projects and overcome my impostor syndrome and anxiety. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud that I’ve been able to face those challenges and keep learning to be better.
One day at the Apple Developer Academy, I was grabbing a quick bite of onigiri in the pantry when a woman named Miss Lily approached me. She was someone who was also in the tech industry and held a leadership role in the academy. She asked me why I was alone and we struck up a conversation.
Through our chat, I learned about the journey and hard work that Miss Lily had gone through to reach her current position. She mentioned that there were times when she was afraid, but then she realized that it was important to be brave, to ask questions, and seek answers even if others might view it as silly or foolish. Her insights and the conversation we had that day have stayed with me ever since and continue to inspire me in my work.
For me, it’s the amazing women in tech that serve as my inspiration. I follow a lot of design accounts on social media and it’s amazing to see all the amazing women doing great things in the tech and design industry. There are stay-at-home moms who balance their tech careers with taking care of their families. There are also senior designers and even VPs in the tech field who show me that women can reach the top and still hold onto their feminine side.
When I was in college, I felt the effects of being in a male-dominated field. There were barely any girls in my major.
“For example, I remember when a girl tried to be our cohort leader, and the seniors were like, "Uh, maybe it’s a guy who should lead." The lecturers were all male as well. All of these somehow led to the rise of my impostor syndrome.”
However, I have seen some progress over time with more opportunities for women, like having a female cohort leader and a female professor in my major.
Personally, I've been lucky and haven't faced any discrimination for being a woman in the tech field. Even in college, where the ratio of females to males was 30:70, everything was fine. My parents were also supportive of my career dreams as long as they were something I was passionate about and had good prospects.
“I don't think we should group or categorize people based on gender, race, ethnicity, etc. Instead, I think diversity is important in any community or workplace. Having a mix of different perspectives and experiences can really enrich the insights we have.”
So I really hope that the tech and STEM industries become more inclusive and diverse in the future, giving more opportunities to anyone regardless of their background.
I'm happy to say that things have been going great for me. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the salary. But I also really love the company culture—they really embrace growth and have policies that really help women, like menstrual leave. Not all companies have such thoughtful policies, so I really appreciate it. And another bonus is that the company supports WFH/WFA, which aligns with my goal of being able to have a successful career while still being able to manage my home life.
Definitely the pay is a big factor, but I also love the company culture that encourages growth. I feel supported in my career development and always encouraged to learn and explore new things. It's a great work environment!
“My advice to women in tech would be to not be afraid to voice your opinions and ask questions. Another piece of advice is to acknowledge and accept any limitations that you may have, but use them as a starting point to get creative and find solutions. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you that being a woman is a weakness. Embrace all the traits that make you who you are. Chasing your dreams and being successful should not be limited by gender.”
“Don't let stereotypes hold you back. Women can be leaders too, and there are plenty of examples out there. Just do what you're passionate about, and don't let the fact that it may be male-dominated stop you.”
We hope their stories have inspired you and shown you just how much women can bring to the table in STEM. Let’s continue to celebrate and support the achievements of women and girls in science every day, not just on this International Day. Cheers to more women in tech!