Women in Tech: Eva Ferreira
Trust yourself, know your worth and remember that there is always something new to learn
— Eva Ferreira
I interview leading women developers every week and showcase their history, opinions, and advice on the tech. In case you missed our previous interviews, check out the series on Hashnode.
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Today, we will be interviewing Eva Ferreira 👩💻.
Eva is a Front-End Developer, Google Developer Expert and Mozilla Tech Speaker who loves cats and makes many Harry Potter jokes.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?
Eva: Hi there! I'm Eva Ferreira, a Front-end developer and professor from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I began doing tech-related things in my teenage years. In high school, I was taught Turbo Pascal and for a teenager, this was the most boring thing I could learn. Even though I wasn't bad at programming, I couldn't care less about it; it seemed dull, boring and old.
Luckily, I end up attending some free HTML/CSS/ActionScript workshops at an NGO called Puerta 18 (part of the Computer Clubhouse program by MIT Media Lab). During these workshops, I re-discovered programming as something fun and beautiful that could help me create anything I wanted.
Can you briefly tell us about your job title?
Eva: My official job title is "Software Engineer" but I do enjoy presenting myself as a Front-end developer because that's where my heart is.
On a day-to-day basis, I work very closely with designers in order to give life to their wonderful interfaces. I do my best to create the best experiences for the user; bearing in mind accessibility and performance (because at the end of the day, content must be made available to all, not only those with high-end devices who have never experienced disabilities or cannot do empathy)
What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
Eva: As a Latino woman in tech, I must sadly say that I haven't always felt welcomed. I had suffered harassment, I had my work stolen, and in the past, I have been paid less than my male co-workers.
But I have also met incredible people along the way, those people that, on the toughest of times, have helped me keep going.
If there’s a bias women face, why do you think it is still there, in the 21st century? What are some things people and organizations could do to change this?
Eva: Yes, the bias is still there in the 21st century.
Women have worked a hell lot to get to where we are now. Many had helped open the way for me to be able to do what I do today and I'm trying my best to create a safe and welcoming environment to other women out there.
But indeed, the biggest work should be done by... men. They need to inform themselves on unconscious bias and learn to be better co-workers, to actually trust women without hesitation. Please stop it with the mansplaining and with the “guys”.
Companies should take inclusion way more seriously. Creating safe spaces, making sure of promoting only diverse events and letting women grow inside the company (I want to stop seeing highly professional women that are hired as junior developers!!).
You are passionate about building communities from organizing conferences to meetups to workshops, why's this and what's your motivation?
Eva: I started speaking at events because I used to see LOADS of Lea Verou's talks. For the younger me, it was a role model. If she can do it, then, of course, I can as well!
So then, I started speaking at events. But even though I saw many professional women speaking all around the world I barely met any other Latino women on the stages. I felt like there was something missing. We have the talent, why weren't more of us out there?
So in order to try to fix this, me and a wonderful team of Argentinians created the first CSSConf in Latinoamerica. In our two editions (2016 and 2018) we made sure to have 50% of Latino speakers. Because it's all about "seeing yourself". Look at this Latino woman speaking, that can be you next year.
You are currently a Mozilla Tech Speaker, how long did it take you to arrive here and what significant difficulties did you face along the way?
Eva: Becoming a Mozilla TechSpeaker is one of the nicest things that happened in my career. I was able to meet kind and wonderful people from all around the globe and learned a lot from them.
In order to join you need to have a little bit of experience speaking at events (but no need for too much, just the excitement of sharing knowledge is enough). The invites for the program are on-hold for now (if I'm not mistaken!!) but you can follow up on their Twitter account.
Eva: I believe programming is a job that requires you to be creative and you can see the need mostly in Front-end jobs. With HTML/CSS/JS and SVG I can create beautiful interfaces as well as games and invisibility cloaks and that's... SO MUCH FUN.
When it comes to the teaching part, teaching is my way of keeping myself humble. It helps me keep learning new things and understanding known concepts more deeply.
What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to work as a Front-end Developer?
Eva: Enjoy it! Create an account in Codepen and start playing around and creating things that you enjoy and that will help you learn different things.
Animate SVGs, create your own Pomodoro timer, etc. Find the joy of creating your own tiny pens.
How long have you been in tech and what word will describe your experience so far?
Eva: If we count those Flash/ActionScript websites of my high school years I've been in tech for about 12 years. But if I'm honest, professionally, 8 years.
Just to be fair, I'd choose two words. Perseverance and friendship.
It was damn hard to be a 20 year old woman in tech in Argentina; now I'm older and wiser so I do cope with it ~just a little bit~ better.
Nevertheless, the hardships paid off. All the friends I made in the industry and all the kind people that I had the pleasure to meet, they were (and are) worth it. Those great people that constantly show me that we can do better, if only we put our minds and hearts in it. Tech can help people, let us be in the right side.
We see that you speak and teach at software conferences, how did you get into public speaking and how has it affected your career?
Eva: I guess I have to thank conference organizers who were smart enough to put a diverse line-up on stage so that I could feel not only welcomed but also like I could one day speak at events as well.
And also, thank those brave women who took the stages in rooms full of white men.
Speaking at conferences did change my career, definitely for the better. It opened many doors that I could have never imagined and allowed me to travel the world and open my mind to different cultures and simply... learn and meet great people along the way.
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to speaking at meetups and/ or conferences?
Eva: Choose your subject wisely. The most important part of a talk is your enthusiasm. Show the audience that you are interested in the subject and that will be enough to make a great talk.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and continue learning?
Eva: I will speak with my experience as a professor in Argentina. These are the two main difficulties that I see for beginners.
Lack of content in their language. If you are a native speaker or have had some great education in a first-world country then you probably don't mind reading documentation in English; but if you aren't... Then it matters. It is hard enough to learn programming, add the difficulty of the language barrier and it is way harder.
Lack of confidence: I see this mostly in women and low-income students. People are constantly exposed to Hollywood-like ideas of the industry where the ones that succeed don't physically look like them. Once again, representation matters.
Imposter syndrome is one problem developers face especially newbies, what is your experience with imposter syndrome, how did you manage yours and what advice do you have for anyone facing this currently?
Eva: Imposter syndrome is HARD! And it can take joy from you in the best moments. From my experience, it still bothers me from time to time but it got a little bit better when I started to write down my achievements, no matter how tiny they were. I highly recommend doing that, reminding yourself in the bad times that you are amazing and that you are capable of great things.
Also, remember that even the most experienced developers still stack overflow all the things.
Rejection emails are another thing that motivates imposter syndrome and depression amongst developers especially intermediates. How did you manage this effectively during your "job-hunting" days?
Eva: Oooooh, did I manage that? Whenever it was a job that I really wanted and I didn’t get it I honestly just cried a little and moved on. It’s ok to feel bad but remember that a job is just a job. Learn from the experience, try to figure out if you can improve something for the next time and have some chocolate and pet your cat (or dog, whatever available)
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Google or Microsoft?
Eva: Whether it is Google, Microsoft or a three-person startup be sure to find a place with kind people that will help you grow (and I don’t mean just in the technical way).
Which of your projects are you most proud of? Can you briefly introduce us to it and why you built it?
Eva: I got two!
I did it for fun, the aim was to learn a little bit about video manipulation and thanks to it I got to travel the world and meet awesome people and explain how you can create your own invisibility cloak. Definitely proud of myself, I need to create more… “useless” stuff.
I worked on this website for most of 2018 and part of 2019 and… It’s not perfect but I learn so so so much! I learned Angular, (more) accessibility, security, writing documentation and how to build a great team.
What is the best advice someone has given you that has helped you in your career?
Eva: It’s ok to Google stuff” or maybe… “Be as confident as a white dude”
I’m pretty sure it’s one of those two or a mix in between. Both are a way of saying “Trust yourself, know your worth and remember that there is always something new to learn”
What are your favorite programming tools?
Eva: Firefox for all the Front-end tools they build! Grids, accessibility, color pickers, etc. It’s such an amazing browser for whenever you are working on the most tricky and beautiful UIs
What does your development environment look like? Could you please share a photo? :)
My physical environment is usually trashed by this bad cat. Another cat is a good boy who doesn't bother me too much.
Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Eva: I share the same thoughts and emotions that “To a Future Woman in Tech”:
Thanks for taking out time to read this interview. 👋
This series is all about talking to the awesome women in tech, understanding the current health of the tech industry and inspiring other women to become better. If you want to share your story, please reach out to me on Hashnode.
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See you next time and keep trailblazing 💪💙