Women in Tech in Costa Rica: Gorilla Monika Valverde

Across the technology sector, there is a major gender disparity. In the United States, while women make up 57 percentage of the workforce, only 25 percent in computing are women. Although most of the technology sector is still dominated by men, the recent technology boom in Costa Rica has empowered women in business and tech and the country has seen many more women studying science and technology (STEM) degrees and entering leadership roles. From UX developers to java developers to ruby developers, we have numerous women on our Costa Rica team. This is important because women on development teams is not just about equal opportunity. A number of studies have found quantifiable reasons it actually yields better results.

Why is it important for development teams to have women?

  1. Diversity Drives Innovation: Diversity tends to breed greater creativity. According to the The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) the presence of women is likely to increase a company’s collective intelligence and problem-solving abilities. Anita Wooley, an economist at Carnegie Mellon, conducted a study that found teams with at least one female member had a higher collective IQ than all male teams. 
  2. Improvement of Bottom Line: NCWIT also found that “Companies with the highest representation of women in their management teams have a 34 percent higher return on investment than did those with few or no women.” Further, Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%. According to Innovation by Design: Investing in Women, “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”
  3. Lower Turnover Rate: Gallup recently found that teams with women have a 22% lower turnover rate and an easier time with recruiting.
  4. Effective Collaboration and Communication: The ability to work with others to achieve a common goal is crucial to innovation. According to the Anita Borg Institute, 84% of technical women view themselves as strong collaborators, while only 70% of men view themselves as strong collaborators.
  5. Women are the most important demographic in tech: Intel researcher Genevieve Bell found that women are the leading tech adaptors in internet usage, mobile phone usage, mobile phone location-based services, text messaging, skype, every social network besides LinkedIn, all internet enabled devices, eReaders, health care devices and GPS.

At Gorilla Logic, we are extremely proud of our talented women (ticas in Costa Rica) developers. Our Managing Director, Mario Merino, explains “As a company, Gorilla Logic is vested in the people that make it great.” In this three-part series, we will introduce you to some of the women on our team and, later, the initiatives empowering women to enter the technology field in Costa Rica. In this post, Monika Valverde, a 16-year programming veteran, talks about her journey becoming a software engineer.

1. What is your background?

My life revolves around technology. Most of the people around me, including my husband, son and nephew, are all software engineers. In my free time, rather than socializing, I like playing World of Warcraft, gaming or spending time with my lovely pets. I have 3 dogs, 2 pugs and 1 husky, that I love taking care of. As for education, I received a diploma in computer science and then a bachelor’s degree in software engineering.

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

I have always thought I was a little different from other girls because I was interested in technology. Software engineering has always come easily to me and I have loved it ever since I played my first video game when I was a little girl. As I was growing up, Spanish and grammar were difficult for me, but mathematics and logic were easy and fun. When I reached high school, I took my very first computer science course and have been programming ever since.
My favorite part of programming is it’s intellectually stimulating and satisfying for me. Every time I start a new project, it is like a baby. Like watching a child grow, I enjoy the process of seeing the program “grow up”. When I see people use my programs, I am proud because it is something I made. The science of programming is very young and right now we are at the point that everything is new. It seems like every day there is a new language and tomorrow a new one is right around the corner that is even better. There are so many exciting things happening in this field every day that it keeps your mind stimulated constantly.

3. What programming skills do you have?

I have been programming for over 16 years, so learning new languages and skills come easily to me now. When I started programming, software engineering was much more difficult. This was before the popularity of the internet, google and libraries and you needed to know everything from memory or you ran the risk of the computer exploding. Today, if you need to research something, you can simply google it on your mobile.
Languages are simply ways to build a solution and languages share similar patterns. So, once you understand how a language works, you can build upon your knowledge of programming and it is easy to learn. I know many languages because I like to learn new things and challenge myself. Every time I begin a new project, there is usually a new language and new skill set to learn and research. This year, in particular, I have learned a lot and have been working on PhP, Java, Javascript, Ruby and SQL.

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

In the very beginning, it was very difficult. In Costa Rica, like many places around the world, programming is seen as a men’s space. When I started at university, there were only 5 women in my class. At the end of my course, I was the only survivor. That is why many of my friends here are men. There is a stereotype here that women become school teachers, do admin work or leave their jobs once they have children. I feel like many women discard their dreams or opportunities once they get married and have children to take care of them.

5. What made you choose Gorilla Logic?

Gorilla Logic chose me! When I finished my old job and began looking for a new one, Gorilla Logic asked to interview me and I said why not. I was one of the first programmers on the Costa Rican team and the only woman. Once I began working I fell in love with Gorilla Logic and especially Stu and Ed because they were so accessible and friendly.

6. Anything else you would like our audience to know?

I always have many ideas when a new language comes out. One day I would like to learn iOS and Android and create a mobile app for my pets. It is very difficult for me to keep their official document cards from the veterinarian and I would love to create an app that stores those cards for me on my mobile.

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 and stay tuned for our upcoming posts to learn about the programs empowering women to enter the technology sector in Costa Rica and the women making Gorilla Logic an innovative and exciting place to work.

If you are interested in a career at Gorilla Logic check out our careers section by clicking the link 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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