Once upon a time, a little tomboy named Audrey-Ann Jean-Weisz loved playing sports and video games. As legends go, she also said that she loved fashion and “girly” stuff, but that's yet to be proven. When she finally grew up, she became a fierce woman in the tech industry, which is no easy feat. How did she end up there, you may ask? Well, here’s her story in her own words.

I was always in love with mathematics and computers. I remember that during my studies at CEGEP (a publicly-funded college exclusively in the province of Quebec), I had a teacher who became sort of a mentor and guided me into the field of Computer Science. From that moment on, I started taking computer sciences seriously. After I completed CEGEP, I began my undergraduate degree in Computer Sciences at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. 

Audrey-Ann Jean-Weisz about Women in STEM
Audrey-Ann Jean-Weisz about Women in STEM

I knew that Computer Sciences was made for me. It felt natural to me—I was motivated to show the world that anyone could succeed in this field. I made myself a goal: to become not only a great programmer but also to destroy the stereotypes associated with my field of work.

This mentality and passion catapulted me into becoming a better and faster programmer. I’ll be honest—there isn’t a lot of representation of my community in the field of Computer Science. In university, I was one of maybe three girls in a class of 30 students, which hasn’t changed in my work environment today. Women are significantly under-represented in Computer Sciences. I’m not saying this as an attack on men. I love my colleagues and love working with men. It can just feel lonely sometimes as the only woman in the room. 

Working in Computer Science as a woman is not always fun and glamorous. On top of feeling lonely, you might have the fear that you’re not being taken as seriously as others. Sometimes this is true, but most of the time, it’s just something that's in the back of my mind. We all know that women will often not be rewarded as equally as men during their careers, such as pay increases and bonuses; this is hard no matter what industry you’re in. There is often more sexism, homophobia, and misogyny towards women in STEM, which is unfortunate and why we need more women and people from diverse backgrounds coming into the industry. I hope to make a change by just being in the room, but we need more people like me in the room as well. 

I am so proud to be a female developer. Being a female developer allows me to bring some much-needed diversity to my team. I can bring a different point of view to the table, which has allowed me to embrace my differences and be proud of them over time. However, on the flip side, I want to be treated the same as my male peers. At the end of the day, it’s the quality of my work that counts. Yes, I am a female in this role, but I want and deserve to be treated equally to my peers. 

I am grateful that I can find work in this industry at a company that values diversity. I’ve been working at Randstad Canada for over four years now. What drew me to Randstad Canada is that I was looking for new opportunities in the STEM world. I had my bachelor's degree under my belt, one year of work experience, and the desire to pursue my dream: work somewhere on something that will be significant in my life. Then in September 2018, a recruiter from Randstad approached me for a front-end position at Randstad IT Solutions. I had conducted my interview with the director and my current manager; lucky for me—it was a match! On that day, I became a junior front-end developer for Randstad IT Solutions.

The advice I’d give to a woman, a woman of colour, or someone in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is to find a field you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about Computer Science, like me, go out there and put your all into it. I think it’s also essential for women to find a company that is transparent with their employees, where you can see the growth potential, and where your values and vision align with the company. Always speak up in meetings, ask questions, and trust yourself! 

It’s so important to be proud and to trust yourself. If you’re considering getting into Computer Sciences, try to find a mentor, they can help guide you and allow you to grow as a developer. Working in Computer Science can be lonely as a female, so if you’re ever feeling lonely, reach out to someone and have that support system behind you so you can reach new heights. You’ve got this!