Meet Målfrid Henden Aaraas, Pexip’s Software Engineer & Team Lead, Juliet Durdle, Pexip’s Technical Author and first woman employee, and Line Strømland, Payroll & Accounting, who happens to be the most recent woman to join Pexip.
Juliet: I went to an all-girls secondary school and our motto was “girls can do anything”. No one ever told me otherwise, and so I’ve always pursued what I was interested in. This led me to becoming a technical author, in the IT industry. That’s when I first realized it was slightly more difficult to be a woman in tech, especially in England 20 years ago.
Målfrid: You were the first woman to join Pexip, right?
Juliet: Yes, I was employee #17 in Pexip, and the first woman. I remember that interview well. My kids were three and one years old and I had to bring them to the interview. My youngest was crawling all over the place and was really drawn to a flashing light on a big box. Turns out he pushed the wrong button and the server crashed.
Målfrid: But you still got the job despite that...
Juliet: Ha! Yes. What I wanted back then was flexibility, and that was something they could offer me.
Line: I sent my application to Pexip on my last day of my maternity leave. My son was nine months old. Now that I’m back at work after a maternity leave, I get a lot of questions from friends like ’are you back to work already?’. My partner, who is now on paternity leave, gets the opposite question, ’are you really home for that long?’. We both work full-time. Why is it different?
Målfrid: I know for me, I wouldn’t have ended up in computer science without a certain amount of encouragement and support. I was luckily part of an organization that was working to get more girls into STEM subjects at university.
Juliet: It’s critical for girls today to see the possibilities. We need to give them good examples of other women who have built careers in tech and help them investigate areas that they may not have considered before, or that they consider to be more male dominated.
Line: I wish someone had pushed that perspective more when I was in high school. I was told I could be anything I want, but that was a terrible answer. I didn’t know what I wanted, and I didn’t know the possibilities. Maybe if someone had showed us what was possible, and gave us options, then perhaps our choices would have been different.
Målfrid: I was terrified when I started studying computer science. I didn’t know how to code. On the first day I thought I would never understand this. But after the first year or so, you get up to speed. It was ok that I didn’t have the knowledge to begin with, and I hope other girls don’t turn down opportunities because of fear or perceived lack of knowledge.
Line: I think it’s important to broaden your perspective and learn about all the possible futures you can have. There’s a world of options out there and we all need to be better and helping girls be aware of that.
Målfrid: And we don’t have to all fit in a box. Some of the jobs don’t even exist yet, so girls today shouldn’t constrain themselves. For us at Pexip, it’s about being visible to the engineering students. Show them it’s cool, encourage them early on. This is a career for women. We need them!
Line: I’ve previously worked in teams in which there were many more women than men, and the balance was not ideal. I think we are often at our best when we have a good balance of men and women to bring out our positive differences and to get the best results.
Juliet: It’s all about following your heart and doing the things that make you excited. I think the three of us are good examples of that, and it’s a perspective we need to spread to make sure that the tech industry benefits from a better gender balance going forward.