How to be a Woman in Tech and Succeed: Interview with Siana Ivanova

8 min read

Today we are talking to Siana Ivanova, Devexperts’ Brand Ambassador and a member of our global Project Management Team. Based in Bulgaria, she followed an exciting path from biotechnology to IT. In this interview, Siana speaks about her job and gives a personal perspective on how women can enter and thrive in the male-dominated market. 

What was your path to becoming a project manager and joining a traditionally male-dominated field?  

I studied biotechnology at university and started my career in the market research industry in my senior year. I had the chance to explore its various branches for a while, and my superior noticed my determination. They told me I had the characteristics and skills to succeed as a project manager. That is when I decided to try it out and immediately fell in love with it. I realized that project management was my thing, and it was what I wanted to do, so I stuck with it.

At some point, I felt like my growth stopped in the market research industry, and I got interested in IT. I took some tech courses, such as Agile Software Development, and the rest is history. I would be lying if I said that my transition from market research to IT was easy. Sometimes I feel like women aren’t taken as seriously as men, especially in male-dominated fields like IT. I am not sure how strong discrimination is in other places, but I don’t think it is exclusive to Bulgaria, unfortunately.

Despite all of that, I didn’t let any hardships take the best of me, I worked hard and managed to break into the tech industry.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a woman in tech?  

I can’t speak for other countries, but working in tech in Bulgaria will bring you more financial stability than in other fields, regardless of your gender. Working in this industry also allows me to keep learning every day, challenge myself, and get out of my comfort zone daily, which is something that I didn’t feel was possible in my previous experience. 

The IT industry changes all the time so you must constantly be aware of updates, which requires extra time and effort. This can be challenging and rewarding at the same time because it encourages you to learn and open your horizons – and this is something I felt was no longer possible at my previous job.  

As a woman, I believe we face more challenges, since we are continuously trying to prove our value to not be overlooked or ignored for opportunities, and that’s just exhausting.

What are the biggest obstacles women face when they start a career in project management?  

I’ve noticed that some companies in Bulgaria don’t take women as seriously as men. They assume that we aren’t as qualified as our male counterparts. Women feel belittled more often and must fight much harder for recognition or leadership positions. There have also been some statistical studies that show that men are being paid more than women for the same positions. This tendency is visible not just in Bulgaria but around the world. 

These aspects aren’t exclusive to any industry and affect every position, and I think this is valid for project managers as well.

What has your experience as a working parent been like in the tech industry?  

Being a working parent is burdensome. I am incredibly lucky to be able to split responsibilities with my partner, but in general, women get the most parenting responsibilities. For example, if the kid gets sick, which happens a lot, most likely the mother will take time off work. This sets us back in the workplace and is sometimes used as a reason to eliminate or reject women from leadership roles or any other type of roles, for that matter.  

As I mentioned, IT is a dynamic and constantly changing field. If you want to build a career and climb the corporate ladder, you should be up to date with everything happening in the industry, and, obviously, work hard. This can be harder when you are a parent because of the additional responsibilities that come with a child. Many working parents must face the decision of sacrificing something to do that, and many end up letting go of me-time or their dream job/career.  

How has Devexperts supported you in your career?  

I love Devexperts and feel blessed to be working here. The company respects people. If anyone has any personal issues or challenges, they will immediately get support from the team: work responsibilities will simply be put off until the situation is regulated. Devexperts puts people and their families first, which is truly amazing. 

All of this combined with the flexibility of working from home is beneficial, especially for working parents. 

Since I joined the company, I’ve also had the opportunity to go on business trips, get to know colleagues and customers from other locations, and join big projects. It has really made me grow as a professional.

How has the tech industry changed for women since you started?  

I’ve noticed that there are more and more women interested in joining the industry, which is excellent. More women are now taking online courses, and there has been a huge increase in female representation in frontend and UX/UI departments, probably because of our inclination to creativity.  

I’ve also noticed that there are more women in leading positions, but there is still a lot of ground to be broken. For instance, tech meetups are still predominantly male and there are barely ever any women presenting. It’s also hard to find any women in the backend field, which is curious, and I’d like to see it contradicted. Things are slowly, but steadily, changing.  

What would be your advice to women who want to start a career in project management?  

My main advice is to gather as much experience as you possibly can. If you are young or if you’re still studying, you can take some classes related to IT or apply for internships. These experiences will give you a great head start. 

But rest assured if you don’t have a background in technology. You can still succeed and become a project manager. I didn’t have any experience in the area and still managed to break into tech with a lot of hard work. If you want to change career paths you can gain knowledge by taking some of the thousands of courses available online. Whatever you decide to do, just remember that persistence is key. There’s nothing you can’t do with hard work.  

Devexperts is always open to discovering and nurturing young talents, so if you want to start your career in IT, don’t hesitate to check out our opportunities for interns and junior specialists. We hope that Siana’s interview will encourage you to leave the doubts behind and start moving toward your career aspirations. Good luck!