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Women in tech: Why Bulgaria and Romania are leading in software engineering


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Women developers may be scarce in the US and western Europe, but Bulgaria and Romania have no such issues.

In central Bulgaria, in the town of Gabrovo, which prides itself on being an international capital of humor, Iva Kaneva wasn't joking when it came to programming.

As a child, she drew her first triangles in Basic, her eyes riveted to the computer screen like a NASA control-room engineer zeroing in on a lunar approach. "I was immediately fascinated," she says. "And I decided that's what I wanted to study." It was the mid-1990s, and she was 12 years old.


At her school, girls did just as well as boys in math and computer science. Kaneva says nobody told her technology was not suitable for girls. Both her parents were engineers and they expressly encouraged her to learn how to code. Now, she is a senior Python backend developer.


Across eastern Europe, it is far from unusual for women to work in technology, but Bulgaria has the highest proportion, with 27.7 percent, according to recently released Eurostat data. Romania closely follows with 27.2 percent.


Next come Latvia, Finland, Estonia, and Lithuania with over 20 percent. The European Union's average is 16.1 percent, with the UK, Germany, France, and Spain hovering in that range. The country with the lowest number of women in tech is the Czech Republic, with a figure of less than 10 percent.


"In the East Bloc, women as well as men were pushed into engineering and science occupations," Kaneva says. Industrialization, carried out on fast-forward, made these jobs prestigious.


The communist regime needed the workforce, so it did not allow mothers to stay at home and care for their children. Often, it assigned them jobs typically performed by men, such as welding, mechanical repairs or tool making.


"'Equal work [for men and women], equal pay', the saying went. This laid the foundation for today's large proportion of girls in tech," Kaneva says.


The other thing communist harshness taught women was to aim for a well-paid job. Today, developers in Bulgaria and Romania often make two or three times their countries' average income, working in outsourcing or R&D for western European or US companies. Sometimes tech jobs have a flexible schedule, so mothers can take care of their children while staying in full-time employment.


In both Romania and Bulgaria, women are often found in large proportions in jobs that combine computer science and economics. Financial software firm Misys takes pride in achieving almost a perfect balance in their Romanian office: 49 percent of their employees are women and 51 percent men.


"The diversity of the people we work with creates an amazing experience, insight and culture," Ioana Cicu, global HR business partner, R&D, says. "Each member of the team brings their own uniqueness and their own strengths."


The almost 50:50 men-to-women ratio is found not only in entry-level positions, but also in management. "From developers and quality engineers, to technical consultants or development directors, we tend to have female colleagues across most of our roles," Cicu says. She adds that women have solid tech skills and a strong desire to develop.


She believes that the number of women studying in tech-related fields keeps increasing, year after year. And the Eurostat data backs that view. Women make up 29.3 percent of the computer-science students, in Romania. Yet, the country seems to be falling behind. Greece has over 31.2 percent, and Belgium 32.5. Not to mention Bulgaria, which once again leads the EU with 34.4 percent.


Sofia-based developer Kaneva says the number of women in technology is high in Bulgaria compared with western countries but, "We still have a lot to do to encourage more girls and women to get involved and stay in tech."


She plans to step in and offer tech training for future Rails Girls events in Sofia. In addition to Python and Java, she wants to teach them not to give up when they face difficulties, but to try again and explore different approaches instead.


"In essence, that's what programming is all about," Kaneva says. "When you're stuck, you explore deeper and from different angles. When you fail or break something, you start over, with lessons learned."


But tech skills alone aren't enough. "We should also teach women to be more vocal about their opinions and views," she argues.

Kaneva also wants to help women already in technology find better jobs, through the platform she works for, PowerToFly. Most opportunities listed on it come from US companies, which promise flexible hours, a friendly environment and family benefits. "I work fully remotely with colleagues, most of them women, from all over the world, in US, Ukraine, Russia, Jordan, India, Argentina," she says.


Looking back at her career in technology, Kaneva thinks she did pretty well for a child born in a small communist town, with little resources. The harsh realities of the 1980s and 1990s might have helped women move into tech, but are hardly worth being nostalgic about.


Her native Gabrovo has a joke that pretty much sums up what it was like back then: "Why do Gabrovians switch the lamp on and off every now and then when they're reading a book? To save energy while turning pages."


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Estonia has been very innovative, indeed. :yes:

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1 hour ago, pc71520 said:

Estonia has been very innovative, indeed. :yes:

Ditching Legacy Thinking in Estonia

Accelare - Strategy to Execution


Twenty-five years ago, the Iron Curtain came down and many countries in Europe regained their independence.  In 1991, Estonia emerged from communist rule with an incredibly limited and backwards infrastructure.  Within the country at that time, only half of the households had phones and there was only one line that went out of the country that only the foreign minister could access.  In just over a two-decade period, their turnaround has been astonishing and they have become one of the world’s leading tech countries.  And they never looked back. 


What can other governments and organizations learn from Estonia?

  1. Lead with a performance culture

Estonia is a country that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation (more on innovation later).  There is a business hub in Tallinn called Tehnopol, which houses more than 150 tech companies.  The first employee of Skype and the founder of the peer-to-peer money transfer service TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus, hails from Estonia.  Their culture of performance extends to the startup culture of the country, where there are a growing number of new companies being registered, and in 2011, high tech companies accounted for 15% of Estonia’s GDP.


Children in Estonia aspire to be entrepreneurs as careers when they grow up (changing from the 1980’s when the children wanted to be rock stars).  And this starts at a young age.  All classrooms in Estonia were online by 1998.  Free Wi-Fi is commonplace in Estonia.  Just recently, they started a program called ProbeTiiger, which teaches 5 year olds the basics of coding.

  1. Align policies to intended Strategy

In 1992, Mart Laar, drove the development of its high tech economy by implementing policies that allow new businesses like the high tech industry to prosper in Estonia.  The country implemented a flat income tax, and promoted free trade, sound money, and privatization.  In order to encourage business startups, new businesses could be easily and quickly registered.  The country also spent more time implementing a strong infrastructure.  In the early 1990’s, Finland offered their old analogue phone system to Estonia for free as they were upgrading to a digital system.  Estonia turned down their offer, instead deciding to take a bit longer to develop their own digital phone system.

  1. Embrace innovation

In just over a two-decade period, here are the incredible accomplishments of the relatively small country of Estonia:

  • Development of code behind Skype and Kazaa (early file sharing network)
  • In 2007, became first country to allow online voting in a general election
  • World’s fastest broadband speeds
  • Hold world record for number of start-ups per person
  • Paying for parking with mobile phones
  • Health records stored in digital cloud
  • 95% of Estonians file their tax returns online (takes about 5 minutes)
  • EWent from having a very limited telecommunications infrastructure to having one of the most advanced in the world

Much can be learned from Estonia and applied to federal and state government.  Foremost is getting rid of legacy thinking, the bane of most bureaucracies. 


Accelare’s Strategy to Execution (S2E) process provides the tools and rigor to create a performance culture.  Government leaders must drive the process, lead by example and make tough decisions for the long term – not the next election.  Top on most lists include bringing technologies to current and leading edge state, investing in competency based training for the new jobs the digital economy demands and encouraging and rewarding innovation in new industry-education collaboratives.


< Here >


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On 6/13/2017 at 10:54 PM, Batu69 said:

Sofia-based developer Kaneva says the number of women in technology is high in Bulgaria compared with western countries but, "We still have a lot to do to encourage more girls and women to get involved and stay in tech."

Huh? W-what? Sofia-based? If this is the Intel Sofia smart or Feature Intel Architecture phone then there must be an error in this article. :rolleyes:


Please refer to the following article






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8 hours ago, xwerlchn said:

adi, plz stop reposting bullshit.

Enjoy, brother, "The Triumph of Bullshit by T.S. Eliot":flowers:

Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited
If you consider my merits are small
Etiolated, alembicated,
Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,
Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,
Impotent galamatias
Affected, possibly imitated,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.


Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward, insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles feebly versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotion that turn isiculous,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.


Ladies who think me unduly vociferous
Amiable cabotin making a noise
That people may cry out "this stuff is too stiff for us"-
Ingenuous child with a box of new toys
Toy lions carnivorous, cannon fumiferous
Engines vaporous- all this will pass;
Quite innocent, -"he only wants to make shiver us."
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.


And when thyself with silver foot shall pass
Among the theories scattered on the grass
Take up my good intentions with the rest
And then for Christ's sake stick them up your ass.


Cheers!    :drunk:


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1 hour ago, knowledge said:

when think of Women in tech i see


You are naughty knowledge. :lol:

I remember my female professor in college. I got the same feeling watching those tutorials.  :wub:


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8 hours ago, adi said:

Enjoy, brother, "The Triumph of Bullshit by T.S. Eliot":flowers:

You probably didn't get me right. By bullshit I meant that stinking IT marketing hype of Stonia.

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1 minute ago, xwerlchn said:

You probably didn't get me right. By bullshit I meant that stinking IT marketing hype of Stonia.

No, I got it right (as you describe above) [it was clear: not personal (to me)].  Cheers, brother.  :drunk:

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On 6/15/2017 at 9:42 PM, adi said:

No, I got it right (as you describe above) [it was clear: not personal (to me)].  Cheers, brother.  :drunk:

Whatever, it was TLDR, and so it went;) Cheers 2U2.

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