Women in Tech: Ire Aderinokun

Women in Tech: Ire Aderinokun

Hello, Awesome 👋,

Thanks for taking out time to read this interview. This series is all about talking to the awesome women in tech and understanding the current health of the tech industry. If you want to share your story, please reach out to me at bolaji@hashnode.com.

Today, we'll be interviewing Ire Aderinokun 👩‍💻 .
Ire Aderinokun is a frontend web developer, user interface designer and Google Developer Expert for Web, based in Lagos, Nigeria. She is one of the co-founders of BuyCoins (YC S18), a cryptocurrency exchange for Africa. Ire specializes in the core frontend technologies HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and has written over 100 articles on these topics on her blog. Ire is well known for giving back to the community and she has helped so many women achieve their dream careers.

I interview leading women developer every week and showcase their history, opinions and advice on the tech. In case you missed our previous interviews, check out the " She Inspires " series on Hashnode.
Also, if you find this interview useful, please don't forget to share with your friends and colleagues. 😃

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?


Ire: I got started in tech through this online game I used to play called Neopets. I was about 14 years old at the time, and the game introduced me to some basic HTML. I became obsessed and it’s been a passion of mine ever since.

What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?

Ire: I’m lucky in that everyone I have worked with has treated me as an equal. The only difficulties I faced were getting started as a self-taught developer. It was a lot of hard work and pushing myself to learn what I needed to in order to make it.

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?

Ire: There is a bias that women face, and it’s still there because most people still believe that women are less than men, especially in the society we live in. To change this, people need to educate the people they are close to and can have a meaningful effect on.

You're a Google Developer Expert for Web Technologies, how did you get into this program?

Ire: I heard about it during the International Women's Day Event in Lagos in 2016. I applied and, after the long application/interview process, was accepted!

Can you tell us a bit about the Google Developer Expert Program, the qualifications and application process?

Ire: The process involves demonstrating both your technical expertise in a given area as well as your dedication to sharing that knowledge with others through things like writing articles or speaking at events.

How has being a Google Developer Expert affected your career?

Ire: It's given me more legitimacy. Particularly since I am a self-taught developer, I think it has helped to have the backing of Google. It has also given me access to a network of expert developers across the globe

What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who looks forward to becoming a Google Developer Expert?

Ire: Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. You need to be passionate about helping the community grow.

You co-founded Buycoins Africa, can you tell us a bit about your company, when it was launched and your work there?

Ire: BuyCoins is a cryptocurrency exchange for Africa. It was officially launched in July of 2018, during the Y Combinator accelerator program. Our mission with BuyCoins is to enable a truly borderless exchange of value across the continent, and we believe that the first step towards this is leveraging cryptocurrency.

Before co-founding Buycoins Africa, you worked as a Software Developer, can you tell us your experience at your previous company and why you made the switch?

Ire: I didn't decide to make the switch, it sort of just happened. We started building our previous product, Bitkoin Africa, and when we got into Y Combinator is made sense for me to work on this fulltime.

You've been a co-founder for a while now, what's the experience like with running startups?

Ire: Stressful but rewarding

We see that you specialize in UI/UX design, accessibility and front-end development, how did you decide to follow this career path and what motivated your decisions?

Ire: It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was something that just happened. As I mentioned, I got into this career because it was my passion, so I just followed my interest and this is where I ended up!

We see that you speak and teach at software conferences all over the world, how did you get into public speaking and how has it affected your career?

Ire: The first talk I ever gave was here in Lagos, and a dev fest event. A fellow developer asked me to speak and I accepted even though I was incredibly nervous! It went well, and I realised that this was a fun thing to do, and I felt like I was actually teaching people too. So I made a conscious effort to speak more. Speaking at conferences has had a massive impact on my career, it has given me a lot more legitimacy, especially as a self-taught developer.

What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to speaking at meetups and/ or conferences?

Ire: You can speak at conferences no matter what level you are at! And putting together a talk is an excellent way to build up your skills

You recently sponsored Udacity Nanodegree scholarships for ten Nigerian women, this is amazing. What inspired this and how has the scholarships been?

Ire: Thank you! I wrote in depth about the scholarship program on my Medium

Completing the Nanodegree is one of the reasons I felt confident enough to search for and eventually get a job at a company outside Nigeria. Given it was such a valuable experience for me, I wanted as many people to go through the same process as well. But it costs money. Money that the average Nigerian youth wouldn’t have, given that the average salary for a developer is something around $300/month (and a Nanodegree is $200/month).
Since I landed my job at eyeo, I felt like I could afford to do more with the extra income, so i decided to put it to this cause.

Can you tell us some success stories from the scholarship recipients?

Ire: I'm currently working on putting together information following up from the recipients, so more about this should be published soon!

You're an active open source contributor and maintainer, how did you get into open source and how has it affected your career?

Ire: I mainly work on my own open source projects. If I create something I think could be useful to other people, I tend to try to open source it. I would say it's made me a better developer because I get a lot of practice working on many different projects

What inspires your open source projects and how do you get started with each project?

Ire: If I create something I think could be useful to other people, I tend to try to open source it.

What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and continue learning?

Ire: I think if you’re to succeed in this career, you need to be able to motivate yourself

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?

Ire: Speaking at conferences and writing articles helped a lot. But I think the important thing is to continue putting yourself out there regardless of if you feel like an imposter.

Rejection emails is another thing that motivates imposter syndrome and depression amongst developers especially intermediates. How did you manage this effectively during your "job-hunting" days?

Ire: Rejection is another thing that everyone has to deal with. I don’t know that there’s a way to effectively manage it. I applied for jobs for months and got nothing but rejection emails. But you just have to keep trying!

You write a lot Ire, what is your super power and what advice do you have for a newbie who wants to get started with technical writing?

Ire: The best advice is to just get started. Writing is a skill that you can develop like anything else, so the more you do it the better you get. There's no reason to wait for anything to get started!

What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Google or Facebook?

Ire: You just have to put the work in to get to that level, I believe anyone can do it!

What are your favorite programming tools?

Ire: VS Code and WebStorm

What does your development environment look like? Could you please share a photo? :)


Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?

Ire: Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it

Did you find Ire's story useful and inspiring?
Write down your thoughts in the comments section below and don't forget to share. You can follow Ire on Twitter.
See you next time and keep trailblazing 👋.