XWiki and its Women in Tech

Oct 30 2018

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This article originally appeared in PIN magazine.

XWiki is an organization active in the open source domain, offering its own product: a software used to build collaborative solutions and services. The company was founded in 2004 in France and since 2007 in Romania as well. At the time of publication of this article, our team consists of 39 employees split between the Paris and Iasi offices. Diversity in the workplace is important to us, and it came naturally, because we have always sought to hire the best person, regardless of age, gender, religion or any other external factor. With regard to gender distribution, the difference between the percentage of female and male employees is not significant in the company itself. The statistics for the Iasi office are, however, more interesting: the number of women considerably exceeds that of men.

We asked our female colleagues for testimonials on their experience in the IT world, from the point of view of their professional activity, but also from a personal point of view.

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Ecaterina Moraru - Lead Interaction Designer

I am one of the few high school colleagues who have ended up working in this field. I remember that when I was accepted into the Faculty of Computer Science, there were just a few girls taking the same courses, with the gender difference already marking this field. Besides, if you were passionate about gaming, you were even more rare. Today, things have changed quite a bit.

At XWiki, I'm an Interaction Designer. Even if what I do may seem a little "soft", I consider it a best choice, as it's a place a come to work with great enthusiasm. In Iasi, the field of Interaction Design and the entire area of User Experience are still in the beginning phase. I cannot say I had someone that I was able to learn from, but I believe I was able to find and implement solutions that made the software more accessible and easy to use.

XWiki was the first company in Iasi to develop an open source product and, even today, it is one of the few companies built around this philosophy. I always had this desire to contribute to the creation of a product, and now I'm part of the team in charge of developing the open source product. I take care of the specifications and interface of the new functionalities which we want to integrate into the product. I create prototypes and write code for the front-end. I collaborate with our international community and we decide together about the functionalities that would be implemented. The product I have been developing and contributing to for more than 10 years has more than 3 million downloads and users in more than 115 countries.

Instead of a conclusion, I consider that women can learn and work in any IT specialization. In addition, you have the opportunity to act and develop not only locally, but globally. There are now many projects and companies that promote gender diversity and encourage women to pursue a career in IT. Nevertheless, I believe that the power of example is the most powerful motivation: the more women who work in this field and talk about their experience, the more they will attract others who will want the same thing.

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Cristina DeLisle - Office and Legal Administrator, DPO

I studied law with a specialization in Business Law, and I currently work at XWiki in the Paris office, after spending a year in the Iasi office.

My role is a combination of cross-functional skills, in areas such as human resources, law, data protection, accounting, technology sales - all because XWiki, my employer, is an open source company. The majority of my colleagues have a specialization in computer science and are professionals in this field, but other employee skills are also appreciated within XWiki.

I had the chance to meet great colleagues at XWiki, who inspire me to explore the technical side and go beyond my limits. I had the opportunity to participate and speak at IT conferences, where, considering gender differences, I found myself at a presentation where there were only men in the audience. It was one of the moments when I realized the disparity in the industry or sectors of the industry.

Fortunately, this problem does not exist at XWiki - almost half of the employees are women (including in management positions) - as well as there is no gender-based discrimination. I would like to find this model in general, in all IT companies.

I think it is important that there are examples of women who have made careers, in general, to find them in executive and leadership roles. The challenge is to ensure a balance between this model and meritocracy, which in most cases brings men into the recruitment process who are finalized with an offer. Moreover, gender discrimination in IT seems to be a real problem, if we take into account analyses that, fortunately, I have just read and not experienced from a personal point of view. I am happy to have women I admire on my team and I believe that such examples will ensure, over time, a numerical balance between the sexes in the technical field.

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Diana Veron - HR and Admin Coordinator

I had the opportunity to enter the IT industry in 2011, just after completing a Master's degree in Human Resources Management at the Faculty of Economics and Business Management, by obtaining a position as HR and Admin Assistant at XWiki. I have always dreamed of working in HR in the IT industry, because the challenges in this field (especially related to the recruitment process and employee motivation) have always attracted me. What I found at XWiki fully met my expectations: the work environment, the young and dynamic team, the international aspect and the way we communicate, the flexibility of the work schedule, the autonomy and the trust the management and my colleagues invested in me, the relationship with them, etc.

Even if, usually, in the field of HR we see mostly women, I had the opportunity to work also with men having this role at XWiki, and in my experience, gender is not a concern at all. As a member of the XWiki Executive Committee, I have always felt that my opinion counts and is taken into consideration, I am only satisfied because I have had the opportunity to contribute to strategic decision-making within the company. For me HR and the IT industry will always remain key aspects in my professional career and I am proud to lead my activity in such a rapidly changing industry.

IT is a dynamic industry and I have encountered challenges everywhere, but in my opinion the secret to success lies in the passionate performance of tasks and in being in the right professional environment, with the right team. Of course, there is also determination, curiosity, continuous learning and concentration of effort to achieve a high quality mission.

This year I became a mother, and I added new challenges to my current activity: I moved to France, started working remotely, and I am constantly working to maintain a balance between family and professional life. One of the major differences between Romania and France is the fact that, after the birth of the first child, mothers must be back at work immediately after maternity leave, which is only 4 months.

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Oana Lavinia Florean - Software Development Intern

I graduated the Computer Science high school, Grigore Moisil in Iasi, currently studying in the third year at the Faculty of Computer Science and I have been an intern at XWiki for 5 months. I therefore have experience strongly related to the IT field and contrary to what is said, I have not observed a great discrepancy between the number of women and men in the field.

At XWiki, I had my first internship, my first experience in a company, which gave me the opportunity to interact with the open source environment. I was part of the team that developed the open source product and had the opportunity to get in touch with a less well-known IT sub-domain in Romania. I collaborated with people from different countries, I have seen my contributions integrated into new versions of the product and I have improved, at the same time, my developer skills.

We do have the coolest colleagues, isn't it?