Throughout the world, people are celebrating International Women’s Day today to honor the achievements and importance of women globally. Locally we are celebrating with a Russian public holiday, but throughout Yandex this week our team members recognized and appreciated the great work of women by sharing notes, cards, and flowers.
As a company, this year we are also celebrating the holiday by commemorating women who have changed the world and their respective fields. Today our search page includes a gallery that recognizes famous, accomplished women and their remarkable achievements that date back centuries and span across multiple countries.
The list focuses on female pioneers and bold first-time achievers such as Sofia Kovalevskaya, the first female math professor in the world, and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. The list also appreciates female leaders such as Selma Lagerlöf, author and first female to win the Nobel Prize in literature and Ada Lovelace, mathematician and first female programmer.
These women plus many others have become role models and taught the world that we are all capable of outstanding feats. We believe that everyone should grow to believe that he or she is capable of anything and also have access to education opportunities that will help reach their dreams – be it writing a book or writing code.
When it comes to those who dream of writing code and a future in the tech industry, it’s critical to raise the participation of women and provide the necessary educational foundation. For Yandex, a major part of that is creating accessible education opportunities. We are working towards making that possible through our education initiatives that range from online learning platforms and school programs to a free Master’s program in Data Science at the Yandex School of Data Analysis.
We spoke to a few Yandex women involved in our education initiatives to share their stories and vision for building the future through tech education. Across Russia and with our female students and employees, it’s evident that a key part of their success and confidence in the field relates back to early exposure to educational opportunities and encouragement to study STEM for both sexes.
Sofiya Tehazeva, a program manager at Yandex School of Data Analysis with a background in competitive coding and teaching programming, talks about growing up in an encouraging environment and how this drives her to make a similar educational experience more accessible for others, “Both my parents enjoyed math and studied tech during their university years – physics, engineering and basic programming. Because of this, I was never scared of those fields and quickly became interested in math as soon as I started school. Later, programming and computer science became my main educational interests.”
She continues, “Participating in various summer schools, training camps and programming contests helped me find friends with similar interests. We had a lot of fun studying and learning together.” When it comes to her education she says, “I had very good teachers along the way who were very passionate about their fields and made educational experiences inspiring. Later I realized that not everyone gets to have an education half as great and enjoyable as mine. With this in mind, I try to make education in tech more accessible to people in my country and hopefully the world.”
Lidia Perovskaya, a competitive programmer and Yandex Academic Program Manager, shares similar stories of young girls being encouraged by their parents to study math and thinks that studying STEM is one of the best ways to be part of the future. Lidia wants young women to recognize they are capable of anything, explaining that, “While opportunities are equal, we still see lower female participation in STEM programs. But despite having lower participation numbers, women’s performance proves just as high. For example, in the Russian delegation to International Olympiad in Informatics many girls placed within the medals range (gold is the top 25%, silver is the top 40%, and bronze is the top 55 %) and won national olympiads. Nothing is impossible, though sometimes it takes time to believe.”
Lidia also adds how great it is to see female coding contestants ranking highly in competitions and looks forward to seeing more high ranking females during the ongoing 2018 Yandex.Algorithm competition and upcoming Q.E.D competition. At Yandex over one-third of our employees are women, some having joined us after participating in our education programs. We are seeing more women join the field over time, as exemplified by the growing number of female graduates from the Yandex School of Data Analysis, which started at four in the first class in 2009 and grew to 20 female graduates in our most recent class.
We hope to see more girls take advantage of educational opportunities and more women joining the industry. Happy International Women’s Day to all women!