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#BeBoldForChange: Celebrating Topcoder Women on International Woman’s Day

By jessie In Community Stories

Posted March 8th, 2017

To me, International Women’s Day is a day where we celebrate all the hard working women in our life. I have been blessed to be a part of the Topcoder team for nearly 12 years and throughout that time, I have been able to meet some amazing women that are a part of the Topcoder community.

There have been a number of Topcoder staff members who really left a positive mark on our business. Women who shaped our design community from the start, women who nurtured the community, women who left us with incredibly good ideas that we still use today, and women who helped enable members to compete and earn a living. Today we celebrate all the women present and past who are huge part of the Topcoder family.

I’ve also had the pleasure to meet many women from all over the world who are part of our community. Some of these women became first-ever Topcoder champions, are able to support their families, work on amazing projects, and prove to be incredible role models to young girls. I have huge respect for the working women in our community and how they plow through stereotypes on a daily basis.

Some highlights over the years include:

  • Our first-ever female Topcoder Champion, Margarita from Ukraine at the 2011 Topcoder Open.
  • Our first-ever female Design Topcoder Champion, fairy_ley from Indonesia at the 2014 Topcoder Open.
  • First and only ever female TCO Algorithm Competition finalist, 7ania7, from Poland.
  • Girls in STEM events from our TCO14 event as well as our Girls in STEM Poster Design Contest from the TCO13.
  • At the TCO16, we had a record seven women finalists across four different competition tracks.

Our 2017 #BeBoldForChange promise will be:

  • To nurture the working women in our community to help them learn and grow.
  • To encourage more women in our community to become more active, have stronger voices, and let their talents shine.

I’m proud to be a part of the Topcoder community as a working woman and mother. I’m happy to celebrate International Women’s Day by highlighting some amazing women below.

Jessie



Monica Muranyi

Monica Muranyi

From Romania, living in Vienna
Topcoder Handle: MonicaMuranyi
Software Developer

Who are your ideal female icons and why?
My mother is an ideal female icon for me, she finds a lot of strength in difficult moments and she is very optimistic and active all the time.

What piece of advice you can share with a young woman just getting started in the workplace?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions

What is one thing you’ve learned throughout your career that helps you succeed every day?
You are more near to the solution than you think.

After a long work day, what do you do to unwind?
Yoga, Playing Chess


Angela Gibson

Angela Gibson

Connecticut, USA
Topcoder Handle: cdngirl
Topcoder: Account Director

Who are your ideal female icons and why?
Michelle Obama. Why? Duh…her sense of fashion of course!! Ha, just kidding! But in seriousness, I love that she broke the mold of conforming to the traditional conservative fashion style of past First Ladies and wore what she identified herself with. She is someone who isn’t afraid to be herself despite public pressure. As a mother to 3 kids, I also look up to her parenting skills. She believes in leading by example and that to me is how a true leader and role model should live.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing working women today in your location?
There are very few women in the technology industry and even less in the field of work that I’m in. I think men still largely dominate in the technology domain of software development partly due to lack of interest from women to pursue careers in this field.

What piece of advice you can share with a young woman just getting started in the workplace?
Don’t be afraid to learn and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. I love my job because I’m constantly learning new technologies, new ways of doing my job better, learning a new skill, etc… Learning something new pushes me to be a better person and grow as a person!

What can Topcoder do to better empower the woman of our community?
We can help one another by networking together to share ideas and best practices.

What is your greatest achievement in your career so far?
I have loved so many jobs and so many components of my career but my greatest achievement is being a working Mom. I believe in leading by example and for me, working hard in life and setting that example for your children exemplifies a healthy & balanced life.


Daniela

Daniela

Romania
Topcoder Handle: DaraK
UI & UX Designer

Who are your ideal female icons and why?
Those women who came up with inventions that improve the lives of millions of people and who did that despite not having the best conditions for their work nor the support. One of my favorites is Stephanie Kwolek, a chemist, who invented the Kevlar fiber which is 5 times stronger than steel, same weight, is fire resistant, and has over 200 uses. The most well know are the bulletproof vests, car tires, and safe rooms,etc. She discovered it by joining together a long chain of molecules with different properties and arranging them in parallel lines, which made this material very strong.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing working women today in your location?
There are not very big issues here, but a challenging one is keeping the work-life balance after women have babies or while kids are small. Being able to be efficient in both worlds, working full time and parenting full time, requires a good organizing and focus on priorities; no matter what country you live in.

What piece of advice you can share with a young woman just getting started in the workplace?
Don’t stress too much. We all make mistakes at first and it’s normal. Pay attention and keep learning, then do the best you can.

After a long work day, what do you do to unwind?
Listen music or play some video games.


Michelle Briggs

Michelle Briggs

Missouri, USA
Topcoder Handle: BL0NDIE
Topcoder: Program Manager, Crowdsourcing Education

Who are your ideal female icons and why?
Above all, Michelle Obama. She is a strong advocate of those who do not have a voice and a leader whose poise and energy are unmistakable. She introduced legislation that was targeted at increasing accessibility to healthy and sustainable food for all, but especially children who were most at risk.

Another person that comes to mind, although I don’t think I would consider her an “icon” more like a mentor, is a former boss I had. She shaped the way I believe women should be viewed in the workplace and taught me more in the 2 years we worked together than in my entire college career. Her ideas were calculated and specific. Her thoughts were concise and well formed. She challenged me to be better than what I was and motivated me to achieve more. She is well respected and has a power that only comes from hard work and persistence in her field. I truly look up to her and consider her one of my most important influences in my life.

What piece of advice you can share with a young woman just getting started in the workplace?
Speak your mind. If there is one thing I’ve learned as I’ve worked my way through a “real job” it’s that you can become invisible if you lay dormant. You must say what you want, and if you have a better idea, you must shout it from the rooftops! Do not be afraid to give your opinion or your suggestion…or ask for help when you need it. These are the things that will set you apart from the rest of the pack and these are the things that will progress your career.

What is one thing you’ve learned throughout your career that helps you succeed every day?
To be honest — fake it till you make it. This is not to say that I don’t know what I’m doing, it mostly is about your attitude about the job or task you are given. If you don’t love it, pretend you love it and act as though you love it until you do actually start to love it. You’ll find that attitude is 90% of what you do. If you have a positive outlook and focus on the task at hand, you will be successful … even if you aren’t 100% convinced you actually love it yet!

What can Topcoder do to better empower the woman of our community?
Topcoder can continue to promote the women who are so valued within the community. Maybe even do a separate newsletter highlighting only the women who have had an impact in the past month. Giving accolades for their achievements or successes during that time frame. Maybe even call out women who have recently registered, but have not yet competed — letting them know we are looking forward to their contributions.


Valerie Bailey

Valerie Bailey

Texas, USA
Topcoder Handle: vbailey
Topcoder: Manager, Product Support

What do you think is the biggest issue facing working women today in your location?
I personally struggle most with time/stress management being a full time working mother, wife and taking care of all that goes into keeping a household. There seems to be a new level of “I do it all and do it perfectly” woman which everyone seems to be striving for. It is most likely more prevalent due to social media but all in all I think it ends up wearing us out and making us feel as though we don’t measure up in one or more of our many responsibilities in life. Working women could definitely benefit from being more supportive of each other, sharing the bad with the good and cutting out so much of the competition I see these days.

What piece of advice you can share with a young woman just getting started in the workplace?
Listen to understand and learn rather than to reply but in the meantime don’t forget to find your voice, believe in that voice and let it be heard appropriately.


Sathya Jayabal

Sathya Jayabal

India
Topcoder Handle: picachui
Wireframe Competitor

What is one thing you’ve learned throughout your career that helps you succeed every day?
There is no such thing as luck; when you want something you have to make it happen. And what is more, you can make it happen.

What piece of advice you can share with a young woman just getting started in the workplace?
There is nothing that you can not do. If you don’t know something, learn it, if you don’t have a skill, develop it. Nothing is impossible for you, all you need is the will power, hard work and the determination to achieve your goals.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing working women today in your location?
Women have a hard time balancing work and family. Though times are changing, in my country women are expected to do the bulk of the housework and managing the children. So for women it is really difficult to give a 100% at their work as they are overwhelmed with their family responsibilities.


Mariia Mykhailova

Mariia Mykhailova

Washington, USA
Topcoder Handle: Nickolas
Software Engineer

Who are your ideal female icons and why?
My mother and my grandmother, because they are both great women and great programmers.

And Virginia Apgar, both for her work in various area of medicine and for her attitude towards gender inequality. To quote Wikipedia, “Though she sometimes privately expressed her frustration with gender inequalities (especially in the matter of salaries), she worked around these by consistently pushing into new fields where there was room to exercise her considerable energy and abilities”

What do you think is the biggest issue facing working women today in your location?
Very limited paid parental leave

What piece of advice you can share with a young woman just getting started in the workplace?
Never stop learning!

What is one thing you’ve learned throughout your career that helps you succeed every day?
To keep learning, and not to be afraid to try new things