Stefania Ciutac: „IT is the field where everyone can find their place”
International Day of Women and Girls in Science is marked globally on 11 February. In this context, we invite you to get to know Stefania Ciutac, the co-founder of the Tech Women Moldova platform. She spoke about her professional path, the importance of women’s empowerment programmes but also about how girls and women from the Republic of Moldova can make a career in IT.
Initially, Stefania started thinking about a career in IT being motivated by her parents. She visited an open day of an IT company that impressed her. But the GirlsGoIT programme played a decisive role.
„I learned about GirlsGoIT when I was a high school student. I wrote to the coordinators of the programme, and they invited me to participate in the boot camp in Chisinau. During that boot camp, for the first time, I interacted with a computer in another way. I opened a code editor for the first time and wrote my first code. I was fascinated by the image I saw on the screen. I managed to create a graphical use interface writing several lines of code. In the same year, I have participated in the summer camp organised by GirlsGoIT. It was my first interaction with a community. A community of people with the same views and purposes, with great goals for the future. GirlsGoIT made me go further in IT. After the summer camp, I assumed the role of GirlsGoIT ambassador in Chisinau. After a short time, I have organised an engineering competition for girls. They worked on several software and hardware projects, which were subsequently presented at the GirlsGoIT summit”, she says.
„The GirlsGoIT programme gave me a community, basic knowledge and guidance, but, the most important, it made me understand that there were not only programmers in IT. You are free to choose both the field of expertise, and the position that seems to be the most suitable for you. I would encourage all girls who dream about a career in IT to participate in this programme. I think this is the only programme in the Republic of Moldova offering courses at this level to girls from the age of 14. Moreover, the courses are free.”
After graduating from high school, Stefania followed software engineering studies in English at the Technical University of Moldova. Also, she got an internship at a local company, and then a job as a QA engineer in the same company. After a year and a half, she became a scrum master, a managerial position that mostly covers the working process of the team.
„At university, girls represented 50% out of the total number of students. When I received my first job, we were only 3 girls in a team of programmers consisting of over 20 people. But, over the last years, the number of girls in IT has increased. I think it happened first of all thanks to programmes encouraging women and girls to start a career in IT. Such programmes allowed us to include women on the list of specialists.”
Stefania decided to motivate other women and girls to choose IT, and now she is the co-founder of the Tech Women Moldova platform. „Our team organises events aiming at motivating and supporting girls. We have a mentorship programme, which consists of courses offered by several women specialists in IT. They offer mentorship on different topics, such as management or software testing. I got involved in developing this community because I needed such a programme too, and I was lucky that I found GirlsGoIT. And now our team tries to offer to the community things it offered to us in the past, especially the experience and knowledge offered by GirlsGoIT. In 2021, over 2000 women and girls have participated in our events. Many of the participants of our mentorship programme have subsequently found a job.”
„I would like to encourage all women and girls who would be willing to have a career in IT to overcome their fear and to follow their dreams. IT is the field of the future, which will never let you get bored, offering challenges every day. Moreover, other fields, such as medicine or banks, become more digitalised over the last time. Although certain stereotypes still persist in our society, they would disappear at some point, as it happened in western countries,” Stefania mentioned.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, during 2020-2021, out of the total number of 3422 students in universities, among Information and Communication Technologies bachelor’s students, only 749 are girls, representing 21.9%. At the same time, men earn higher salaries in the majority of economic activities, one of the biggest difference being noticed in Information and Communication Technologies, where men earn 38% more than women.
Stefania Ciutac is a fellow of the GirlsGoIT programme initiated in 2015, and supported till 2020 by UN Women. The programme has been implemented by Tekedu and continues to this day. Within the programme, UN Women supported women and girls in choosing a career in IT, contributing to strengthening their capacities in ICT, and creating employment opportunities.