How Women Are Fighting Stereotypes In The Tech Field

Photo: Courtesy of Toptal.
The tech industry in Silicon Valley is notoriously male-dominated, but the fight to get more women involved in STEM-related industries is a global struggle, too. Luckily, there are women fighting to change that — like 24-year-old Rojina Bajracharya, for instance.

Bajracharya, whose goal is to be a professional software developer, was the first winner of the Toptal Scholarship for Female Developers in 2015. Toptal, a U.S.-based company that connects businesses with freelance developers, designers, and software engineers, created the scholarship program to support women in tech.

Bajracharya cofounded Girls in Technology, which helps women in Kathmandu learn more about opportunities in the tech industry. Through the Toptal scholarship, she received $5,000, along with a mentorship opportunity with a Toptal developer.

Anna Chiara Bellini, head of engineering at Toptal, told Refinery29 that the company hopes to help close the gender gap in the tech industry.

"Having a larger pool of talent is always better," Bellini said. She added that, "Women often don't feel entitled to have a place in tech," but that Toptal is working to change that mindset through its scholarship and through its network of developers.

"She's really amazing," Bellini said of Bajracharya. "We were quite mind-blown by her application."

Ahead, Bajracharya and the other rising stars changing Nepal's tech world share their thoughts with Refinery29.

Editor's note: Photos and captions were provided by Toptal and Girls in Technology. They have been edited for length and clarity.
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Photo: Courtesy of Toptal.
Reetu Shrestha, 23

"I was scared to join the IT sector, not only because I wasn't prepared for it, but also because I counted myself as 'below average' in mathematics and computer knowledge. This fear of mine did not serve me well. At the very beginning, when I started learning things about technology, I felt like I was doomed. My fear started to turn into anger, and then agony. I was not able to absorb things…and I felt as if I had chosen the wrong path.

"But patience is something each and every one of us should have…Through my consistent hard work, full-time dedication, and willpower to achieve my goals in the IT field, I managed to learn programming. Though I started learning, it was still not so easy, and many times I considered leaving, but fortunately, I did not.

"Now, I am good at my work and love programming…Another proud moment will be…when I [am] counted as one among the few girls involved in [the] technology field in our country.

"I personally feel that technology is the only arena where girls can compete with boys and prove their skills, strength, and ability. Not only this, but women with technology skills are more likely to possess different personalities. With successes adding up…we can influence many others to join this sector, as this might be the only field which will keep growing and growing."
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Photo: Courtesy of Toptal.
Hricha Sharma, 22

"The entire world has grown to a point where billions of individual needs are attached to the internet...Soon, we shall arrive at a tipping point where the survival of almost any business will be directly dependent of technology.

"At such a time of technological evolution, technological literacy and practices must be accessible to every individual without any hindrances…Providing opportunities to a large mass of passionate people would integrate the prevailing dynamic growth of the technology. I personally believe unleashing opportunities in technology allows for free rein of innovations, which eases living."
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Photo: Courtesy of Toptal.
Rojina Bajracharya, 24

"It is not true that the technology field is dominated by men. This is a false concept that has been believed until today…Both women and men are equally capable of thriving in the tech industry — the only difference is the mindset that computers and programming do not belong to girls.

"Opportunities in tech are important to me in order to broaden my knowledge and awareness [within] the tech world. These opportunities will not only [help] build [me] up, but also encourage other girls and women to pursue opportunities in tech. If she can do it, why can't I? This mindset will eventually push other women to work in this field."
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Photo: Courtesy of Toptal.
Aachal Thapa, 20

"Our generation has been the most blessed regarding technical advancements. We have seen…simple [pagers] developed into multifunctional smart phones, a 128GB hard drive transformed into a tiny microSD card. Familiarity with so many technological advancements made me feel really comfortable to study and make my career in this field.

"An opportunity in tech is, without any doubt, a very important thing to me, because I have already set a goal to continue learning and practicing more in this field.

"We all know that the tech field is the most promising field worldwide. Being a computer science student, I feel that the opportunities for those who study technology related subjects are overwhelming. Studying technology-related subjects prepare a person…for a career in a wide variety of industries, such as engineering, architecture, information technology, careers in hospitality, fashion, and even education. One can learn it and go [into] fields you like to study in the future."
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Photo: Courtesy of Toptal.
Palistha Maharjan, 20

"Technology is the driving force of the future. It is changing our lives and shaping our future rapidly. New technology will have a major impact [on] all of our lives…The tech generation is blessed with the amazing gift of having information from all over the world in the palm of our hands.

"Each and every day, there is new information shared online from tons of sources. The world is evolving every day, and with new information being available to the public online, there is no reason for people to not keep up. Yes, almost everyone, including myself, is on some form of social media, and it is enjoyable. There are a wide variety of career opportunities available for capable and experienced IT professionals.

"Opportunities in tech are important to me. It's not that we use technology, we live technology. Be creative, and be technical."
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