By Danijela Divac
Being an immigrant and female working in the tech industry I inevitably always felt like a minority. Cultural and gender differences came with different challenges and I faced them without much guidance, since asking for help is unacceptable in my culture At times I look back and think that I’ve done well for myself, while experiencing many failed attempts to get what I want and be where I desired. In short, I have learned many lessons the hard way.
From a very young age my family discovered my theatrical skills and encouraged me to put on many amusing performances for the neighborhood. This led me to be active in the local theater and get trained as an actress. There are times when I used my theatrical skills to transform into anything I wanted to be in the workplace in order to get what I want. While working in a male dominated environment I would work with my male energy in order to be successful. The answers I seek today are how to be myself and be successful in the environments where I am a minority.
But the process of learning and growing never ends, which is why I decided to attend Femgineer Forum at Twilio on Thursday night looking for opportunities to talk to other women in the tech industry and exchange a few tips on effective communication.
The entire experience was utterly inspiring. At first the girls got together, socialized over pizza and beer, talked a little bit about the career backgrounds. It was the perfect overture. Femgineer Forum was excellent! The presentation was well thought out, concise and presented at the right pace. What I especially liked is that the tips we learned were not explicitly addressing female issues, but truly beneficial to any minority doubting if what needs to be communicated is appropriate and or effective. We often wonder:
- Is it appropriate to ask for this?
- Is my manner or tone going to offend or is it going to sound aggressive?
- Is this behavior going to harm my career or take me to the next level?
These questions and doubts are universal. The highest value of the forum was in the interactive activity that we all engaged in. Participants paired up and practiced their communication skills using the role play model. Let’s face it, anyone can search the Internet and read infinite articles on effective communication. Being able to practice in a safe environment and get the feedback is invaluable.
Never stop growing, never stop learning. Attend the next Femgineer gathering and continue the exchange. I most definitely will.
Born and raised in Serbia, Danijela Diva came to America at the age of 17. After she completed her higher education on the East Coast she took a road trip to California and settled in the Bay Area. She started out in the tech Industry as an Instructional Designer and trainer.
At LeapFrog Enterprises, she started working with a team of engineers developing software for toy educational content development. For the past few years she has fallen in love with the agile software framework and decided to simply let that passion lead her into the world of product management.
Danijela’s motto in life is to find amusement in anything she does, and never stops learning new things and gaining fresh experiences. She spends her spare time reading, playing with photographs and musical instruments, taking Argentine tango lessons, skiing, sewing, cooking and gardening. She is mostly thrilled about traveling abroad where she can be immersed into another culture, meet new people and learn about a different way of living.