Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a global celebration dedicated to women’s achievements inside and outside of the workplace. With 17 offices across nine countries, we’re proud to recognize the Yandex women around the world helping us build the next generation of intelligent products and services powered by machine learning.

Gender diversity is a vital part of Yandex culture, starting with our educational programs that encourage young girls’ interest in math and technology. Yandex Director of Human Resources, Lena Bunina, elaborates: “We are delighted to see young women joining our educational and academic programs as we believe it is crucial to stimulate their interest in STEM. We want to encourage the young women to explore their career options in technology.”

The overall makeup of Yandex employees displays another area of our commitment to gender diversity.  More than one in three Yandex employees is female and 19% of all technology roles are filled by female employees. “We believe that diverse perspectives and backgrounds foster innovation, idea development, and ultimately, inventions of the best products. They also help us make better decisions as a company,” says Mikhail Parakhin, Chief Technology Officer. And while Yandex’s gender diversity figures are comparable with other global technology companies, Yandex continues to seek opportunities to close the gap between male and female employees. “We insist on equal opportunities for everyone, as it applies to hiring, promoting and rewarding employees,” Bunina says.

We spoke to a handful of female leaders at Yandex to celebrate this occasion and are excited to share excerpts of their insights.  Among a few thousand other female employees, these women have made serious strides not only for Yandex, but for women in tech who are charting new territories in the development of machine learning applications that deliver superior experiences for consumers across the globe.

What led to your interest in working in technology? Can you think of a specific moment that made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?

Milena Djuricic, Vice President Business Development

My career in technology came about organically as technology has always been an important part of my life. As a primary student in Yugoslavia, I participated in a school-wide programming pilot, which served as an experiment to implement programming classes across our country. In the mid-80s, we were learning how to program in Basic using huge metal machines and black and white monitors. It was a time of very primitive personal computing when the Commodore 64 was the dream of every school kid. In the early 90s, I received my first email address through an account on European Academic and Research Network (EARN). I remember being so happy to be able to exchange messages with my high-school friends who left our war-torn country and were living all around the world.

Maria Orlova, Head of Geoinformational Products

In 1998, my dad bought us our first personal computer when I was 13-years-old. During the first month, I managed to break the computer twice and it wouldn’t even start.  My dad, a lover of scientific approaches, then got me an excellent book about Windows 98, to both fix our computer and learn the basics of computer science.  As I read it, the idea of the Internet was so exciting that I literally could not sleep. I remember establishing my first mailbox on Yandex at my first trip to the Internet cafe around that same time. I was only 14 then and I didn't know why Yandex would need me, but I was sure I needed to be part of Yandex. Now I’ve been working for Yandex for 9 years! 

Tell us about your role at Yandex. What drew you to this role?

Jane Zavalishina, CEO Yandex Data Factory

I started working for Yandex in 2000. The most interesting thing for me over the past 17 years has been the opportunity to build something new, something nobody really knows how to build. There’s no recipe for success with some of these innovations and of course, the opportunities are so big. So today, as CEO of Yandex Data Factory, I have exactly that—we are working in a new and rapidly developing field of practical ML applications for traditional businesses. As we’re headed towards a fourth Industrial Revolution, AI is going to play a huge role in these changes.

Anna Veronika Dorogush, Head of MatrixNet

 I started at Yandex two years ago and am the head of the team developing algorithms and infrastructure for machine learning. Our team works on Matrixnet and other tools, which are widely used all over Yandex. I really love my role and I have a wonderful team! More than anything else, I enjoy my workdays that are spent working on code.  With my professional growth, I have taken on other less technical responsibilities, and now spend more time attending meetings, conducting job interviews, creating plans and collaborating with other Yandex teams. Despite being the less technical aspects of my role, they are still interesting and important parts of my job.

What is your hope or vision for women in technology in the future?

Olga Erykalina, Head of International Search

“Throughout my 10 years of professional development in Internet media and technology companies (which included two maternity leaves), I have never experienced any limitations or drawbacks related to my gender. I hope everybody who’s starting a career now will be able to say the same in the years to come.”

Jane Zavalishina, CEO Yandex Data Factory

“New technologies create new opportunities. When something really new and promising appears, traditions, expectations or attitudes don’t yet exist. We are in an industry of constant innovation and experiments, which has created a professional space that welcomes diversity and unique contributions from everyone who can help move tech forward. For that reason, I feel this is an industry of equal opportunity and I strongly believe we will continue to see more women in tech in the near future.”

We thank our female employees for their contributions today and everyday! Their diverse perspectives help us build the best possible products for our users.  Milena Djuricic, Vice President Business Development explains, “At the end of the day, if you are making a product, you want it to be useful for everyone and used by all. Both male and female perspectives are important contributions. For that reason, diversity is crucial and companies that understand that are winning. As a woman in tech, it is easier for me to understand 50% of our users much better than my male colleagues. It’s easier for me to understand other women’s problems and needs and suggest solutions for their specific problem.”

Are you interested in contributing? We are always on the lookout for rising stars with diverse perspectives – check out our Jobs page for more.