Potato – Purvi Trivedi, Frontend Engineer

We interviewed Purvi Trivedi, Frontend Engineer at Potato on her thoughts and experiences on women in tech.

1. What does your job role involve?

I develop visual and interactive features of applications in a way that is accessible to everyone. I frequently write HTML, CSS, JavaScript; use frameworks like React and Vue; do code reviews and write documentation.

2. What made you choose a career in technology?

My interest in music, art and all things beautiful! I initially studied Sound Engineering as I was interested in learning more technologies that support the music making process. Whilst working in the music tech industry, I collaborated closely with software developers and was blown away by the possibility of creating interfaces that make human interaction with technology fun. I couldn’t stop myself from exploring further and trained to become a software engineer.

3. Did you study an IT or technology related subject at GCSE, A-Level or University?

Yes. I went to school in India and the subjects I took in high school were maths, science, physics , chemistry and computer science. I completed a BA(Hons) in Sound Technology at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in the UK.

Years later, at the age of 29, I took the Software Engineering Immersive Course at General Assembly, London.

4. Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?

I worked at a music tech company, ROLI, for about five years. I started out as a product support specialist, helping users troubleshoot technical issues and make the most of their setup. Eventually I worked in the product team as a UX Researcher, where I led user research on new products like LUMI and ROLI Studio.

5. Do you think there is a lack of females in the IT and tech sector?

Unfortunately, yes. Not only is there a lack of women, the tech industry is hardly representative of the society we live in. It’s why we continue to live in a world where products are designed to fit the needs of a single demographic.

6. Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?

Perhaps I live in a bubble, but I do feel this is getting better. Popular culture is slowly coming around to diversifying its casting for the “IT Person”. There are initiatives that provide an inclusive space to learn skills and companies are starting to realise that a diverse workforce actually creates better, more accessible products.

7. What would entice women to study technology related courses?

As everyone else has said, role models and better marketing. Tech started out as a gender neutral industry and women made many contributions in the 1940s. That changed in the 1980s when tech started being marketed as boy toys. Women who could have been role models left the industry due to sexism in the workplace. These cultural shifts have had compounding effects, due to which we see skewed representation today.
The good news is, society has been progressing so hopefully we will see positive results in the future.

8. Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?

There is definitely a lack of space. Space to explore, make mistakes, be imperfect, do something stupid and learn from it. This space is taken away when you are the “different one” in a classroom. It’s taken away when you are conditioned to think more about your safety, beauty, duty or perception rather than your ability to explore, be curious and learn.

The barrier is usually introduced at a young age, where some children are taught specific boundaries based on their gender, race or social background.

9. How could we encourage more women to start a career in tech?

Two things helped me: exposure to the endless possibilities of tech and encouragement from people who are already in the industry.

10. What advice would you give to young women at the start of their career?

Keep learning and don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Look for allies and mentors in the industry who you can talk to and collaborate with.