The talented women powering software at Web Summit

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This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the women making a difference on the Web Summit engineering team by doing everything from building out our ticketing system to overseeing logistics for all tech at our events. Here, we share some of their stories.

According to Statista, as of 2020, just 29 percent of software engineers in Portugal are women. Furthermore, the Society of Women Engineers reports that, as of 2018, just two percent of all professional engineers globally were women of colour.

This must change.

Research tells us that seeing women role models can have a positive impact on girls’ interest in STEM careers. With that in mind, here is a snapshot of the talented, passionate women working in engineering at Web Summit.

Bharti Mehta, senior Salesforce engineer in business intelligence

headshot of Bharti with woodlands in the background

Bharti is Web Summit’s Salesforce professional.

She studied computer science and communications in India, then started her career in software engineering in 2006 with a small Indian company called Metacube.

Metacube’s acquisition gave Bharti the opportunity for a 2015 move to Ireland. She joined Web Summit in May 2021.

Bharti is passionate about Salesforce, and says ​​the most enjoyable project she has worked on in Web Summit to date is when she implemented survey functionality on the Salesforce platform: “It was great having complete ownership of the project from project proposal right through to implementation, and I loved seeing its impact in the real world.”

She says one of her favourite things about working for Web Summit is the work/life balance, telling us “it’s something I was missing in previous jobs”.

“I see more learning opportunities here. I love the learning and development program, which has different flavours like online study, classroom sessions and, sometimes, one-to-one coaching based on the individuals’ needs.”

In terms of the underrepresentation of women in STEM, Bharti thinks this is changing: “I see more women coming into technology, and in various leadership roles. People talk about female empowerment, so the world is definitely changing.”

Joan McCarthy, senior software engineer

Headshot of Joan with Web Summit headquarters in the background

Joan has been working with Web Summit for three and a half years. Having studied engineering and computer science at university, she started work with a startup straight out of her master’s degree and, a year later, joined Web Summit as a software engineer.

For Joan, it wasn’t a straight path to software. She originally thought she would go down the biomedical route, but was bitten by the coding bug when she took some programming modules as part of electronic engineering.

She thinks a career with STEM doesn’t need to be seeded in childhood; it can come later, or be one of your many passions. Having considered psychology and sociology as career paths, Joan finally found her fit with coding.

“Some people in computer science have been coding from about four years old. I certainly wasn’t one of them,” she told us.

And yet she’s inspiring a younger generation of girls and boys to get into STEM. Joan volunteered with Coder Dojo for several years, attending workshops every Saturday to help children and teens get to grips with programming languages and hardware by using Scratch and Raspberry Pi.

In terms of finding her own STEM mentors, Joan says online communities have been great, allowing her to follow relatable people in her sector on Twitter and enabling her to listen to podcasts featuring inspiring women in tech.

Meanwhile, her favourite things about working with Web Summit are the ability to be creative and to problem solve as an engineer. These are qualities that led to her team building our ticketing software, Ticket Machine.

“There are big challenges to take on but people take them on with enthusiasm and, at the end of the day, we make the work better,” she said.

Nidhi Naithani, VP of program management in engineering

Profile picture of Web Summit employee Nidhi

Nidhi has a master’s degree in computer applications, and has been in the tech sector since 2000. She worked for the first 18 years of her career at GE Global Research in India.

When Nidhi began her software engineer role at Web Summit in 2018, her job title was product owner. In this role, she oversaw the team that designed features for the company’s various software applications – a role she says was about creativity, innovation and the ability to deep dive into a project.

Since then, Nidhi has been promoted to VP of program management, a job with a far broader scope and one that requires big picture thinking – something she excels at.

“They are certainly two different kinds of roles,” said Nidhi. “And I would say both are equally important, and that one without the other just doesn’t work.”

In her new role, she coordinates with all the teams in Web Summit, from ticketing to registration and everything in between. It’s an end-to-end job that ensures everyone is well-prepped to deliver the event and handle issues that arise.

“We work very closely with the live event operations team to ensure smooth handovers,” she said. “It could be getting attendees registered, volunteers set up, or managing crew and contractors. We need to plan how we deliver the software for those, how many machines we need, and so on.”

As for her experience as a woman in technology over the past two decades, Nidhi says that, while there is not yet a 50:50 gender split in the sector, things have improved. It’s gone from a very small percentage when she was starting out to something now approaching 15 to 20 percent.

“What I’m seeing now is more women in leadership roles, especially in the engineering sector – [women] being able to lead and being able to make key decisions. That’s definitely been the change.”

Interested in joining our engineering team? Check out Web Summit’s careers page for more information, and current job opportunities.

Main image: Web Summit

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