VEGA

XIMENA

WHO AM I?

I’m a 25-year-old IT and SE engineer striving to build a career in consulting and management. As a former pro-volleyball player I’m a huge sports fan and love going to all kinds of sporting events. I visited over 10 countries but always came back to my birth country - Serbia.

 

My motto: Be a woman in business, not a woman in everyone’s business.

MY STORY

Being talented in natural sciences from a very young age I can easily say I’m used to being “the only girl in the room”. Whether it’s in class, in a hackathon, a science fair, a math competition, even in my workplace.

 

Although it definitely has its perks, it can definitely be a double-edged sword. Most of the time I pushed myself to work twice as hard, put in more effort than everyone else just so I can prove that I’m there for a reason. All those “what is she doing here” looks, gave me even more motivation and pushed me to reach new heights in my career.

 

I distinctly remember this one time. I was a sophomore in college studying computer science and registered to attend a lecture held by a guest Google engineer. I arrived 15min early and tried to find the right classroom since there were no clear labels on classroom doors. So I went in, saw a guy sitting by the door, and politely asked if he could confirm I’m in the right place for the lecture. He looked at me, scanned from head to toe, and through a sleezy smile replied with: “Oh sweety, the model casting is downstairs”. I just smiled and said: “Thank you sweety, but I’m exactly where I need to be”, passed him and took a sit in the front row. 

 

Fast forward to the end of the lecture, I was the first one to solve the problem we worked on and the guest lecturer was having a very constructive discussion on backtracking algorithms with me. On my way out of the classroom, the same guy stood with a couple of friends and they asked me if I’d be willing to join their study group.

 

This is just a mild version of what is going on every day in this male-dominated world.

 

I know there are a lot of girls out there who find themselves in similar or far worse situations on a daily basis.

 

All I have to say is to own who you are, believe in yourself, and stand your ground. Don’t let other’s perception affect how you feel or how you view yourself.

 

Know your worth. Don’t ask for it, state it and never settle for anything less.

 

Make yourself necessary and you’ll always be needed!

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