Women in Tech in Costa Rica: Gorilla Mariana Santamaria

In 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist jobs by 2020, but universities will only be able to fill 29% of these. When surveyed in middle school, 74% of girls express interest in STEM subjects, but only 0.3% of those same girls go on to pursue a degree in computer science. This lack of women in the field is hurting the tech industry worldwide and we need more women to help shape our future. According to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer: 

“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”

So, how do we make sure more women pursue technical degrees and careers? According to the Centre for Entrepreneurs, if we want more women to thrive in the future, we need more female tech entrepreneurs. In fact, there is growing research that women make excellent entrepreneurs: 

1. Women are calculated risk-takers

 87% of women surveyed by the Center for Entrepreneurs, saw themselves as risk-takers, while only 73% of the men did. Furthermore, 80% of women said they see opportunity when others see risks, while 67% of men said the same. 

2. Women are less prone to overconfidence 

Only 42% of women entrepreneurs surveyed answered their business was prospering, while 62% of the men said they were doing well. This is not due to the fact that the men’s businesses were actually doing better than the women. In fact, the opposite was true, the women were actually doing better. 

3. Women are ambitious

More than 2/3 of the women surveyed at C-level jobs said they were interested in starting their own business, while less than 1/3 of men answered the same. 

4. Women are more likely to see goals in terms of long-term, rather than short-term, growth

Women are more likely to reinvest business capital, while men are more likely to seek faster growth. The study suggested that this was perhaps because men seek a faster exit strategy. 

5. Women succeed often, despite facing great barriers

Almost 1/4 of women surveyed stated they lacked the network they needed to grow their business, while only 1 in 10 men answered the same. 

At Gorilla Logic we are VERY LUCKY to have an inclusive team from all sides of the coin. Our gorillas who identify as male are always supportive and encouraging of our women. Remember, when we leverage the power of diversity, not only do organizations perform better and are more innovative, but they are more profitable as well. Imagine the inventions or apps we are missing, simply because there aren’t more women developing! In the end, the more women in the field, the better the tech of the future will be.

In this final post in our women in tech in costa rica series, we introduce you to another one of our remarkable women, Gorilla Mariana Santamaria, where she talks about how her love of risk-taking and many passions and hobbies have helped her become a stand out developer. 

  1. Tell us a little about yourself, your hobbies, your education?

I grew up in San Ramon, Costa Rica and studied computer engineering at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, one of the four public universities here. I am 31 years old and have been a programmer for 9 years now. I come from a very big family and I am the eldest of 7 children. Growing up was crazy in my household because there were so many of us. I have no children and no husband, but a very loving and caring boyfriend who is also a software engineer. Believe it or not, we never discuss software engineering when we are together. 

I don’t consider myself a tech geek because development is only a small part of my life. In my free time, I enjoy so many other things. I like sports a lot and I compete in running and do functional training workouts almost every day. I also learned to swim 1.5 years ago and I train very hard for swimming. I am very conscious of what I eat and like to eat healthy. I spend a lot of time cooking and I cook almost every day and rarely go out to eat. Travelling is also one of my favorite things to do. One of my goals is to take at least 4 trips a year that are non-work related. I like to be out of my comfort zone, try new things, and I look forward to these adventures learning something new. For example, I graduated in French because I wanted to learn something different. I have taken singing, aerial dancing, sushi and numerous other cooking courses. I might even try acting classes now simply because the thought scares me!

 

  1. What made you choose programming? What is your favorite part about programming?

Honestly, I chose programming without having any idea what it actually was. I really just wanted to use a computer all day long. I enjoyed using computers, playing silly games and browsing. I was also told  the career had a lot of math and logic by my father and I knew that these were my strongest subjects. I just jumped into it without knowing what I was doing. I did it because it was risky and I love taking risks. I also felt like it would be a good fit for me. When I began my classes, I had no clue what they were talking about. I came from a very different knowledge set than my classmates and I struggled to get up to speed. I felt like I wasn’t prepared enough and I wasn’t good enough. I had a very hard time in my first year and I was having doubts because I was getting bad notes on tests. However, I realized that everyone struggles at some point and I eventually did very well and graduated with excellent marks. 

My favorite part of programming is the moment you feel confident in what you are doing after learning a new language and its syntax. I love to be able to help someone and teach them what I know.

 

  1. What programming skills do you have?

Right now I am doing python at Gorilla Logic, but most of my career I have been a java developer. That was an intentional decision I made and not something that just happened by chance. Java captivated me and I was sure I wanted to work in that language. Later on, other languages came along, like Ruby, and I realized I could learn more than just java. I have had positions in the past as a full stack developer, but now I am just backend programmer. I feel more comfortable doing only backend and I feel that I am more proficient this way. Finally, I am an engineer that takes new challenges as an opportunity.

 

  1. How well do you feel women are represented in Costa Rica in the technology sector?

Generally, I would say it is pretty good, but there are not a lot of us. Because there are very few of us and the sector is absolutely dominated by men, you have to be good to survive. In fact, every woman developer I know is very good and if you look at it from a purely talent standpoint, women are very well represented in this regard! You don’t have the option here to be so-so and still get a good job.There are so many men to compete against, you have to shine by yourself. There is a sense that if you are a woman you have more eyes on you than usual and everyone is scrutinizing your work. However, with all this weight and pressure, it just makes us better.

A project manager I met in the past even told me that I was the first female java developer that he had ever met. When I went to take a java certification test, the test examiner was very impressed because I was also the first woman he had ever seen take the java certification. However, I do think that women are making their mark on in the sector here. It is a process and we are now seeing more and more women graduating college and entering the workforce as engineers or beginning tech careers.

  1. What made you choose Gorilla Logic? 

I knew Mario from a previous job. One day I went to lunch with him and spoke to him about Gorilla Logic and he taught me about all the interesting projects they had. It struck me because the projects were not common, usual or boring at all. I also felt that the company philosophy was what I wanted. I felt that Gorilla logic could give me flexibility and the job/ life quality that I wanted, which is my highest priority right now. If you want to do something outside of office hours, it is totally ok here, you just makeup those hours later. This type of flexibility is not usual in Costa Rica because most companies want you to be in the office certain hours.

  1. Anything else you would like our readers to know?

Don’t dedicate your entire life to programming and put every hour into working. Having many passions and interests outside of work has made me a better and more well-rounded programmer!

If you have any questions about nearshoring your software development or Costa Rica, please read Mario Merino’s post and don’t hesitate to contact us. Subscribe to our blog to learn about Costa Rica and the women making Gorilla Logic an innovative and exciting place to work.

Think you have what it takes to be a Gorilla? Check out our careers section and follow us on instagram by clicking below. 

 
Kelly Pederson

Before working in tech, Kelly studied for a PhD in Islamic Philosophy, multiculturalism and Qur'anic Jurisprudence. She then made the totally natural progression into programming and is currently a Ruby and Javascript developer, as well as a technical content creator. In her spare time, she likes to research anything and everything, take her cats for walks and eat cheese.

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