Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the UK tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.
In this interview we speak to Pauline Narvas, Biomedical Sciences student, self-taught developer and Code First: Girls ambassador and instructor.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on
I’m currently 10 months into my year in industry placement where I work at the University of Sheffield in a Communications and External Engagement role. Compared to others in my Biomedical Sciences course who are also on placement, I decided to stray away from working heavily in the labs and to a more client-facing environment.
In my very diverse role, I take on the lead in internal and external communications, stakeholder engagement as well as support various areas of learning and teaching (and technological applications in this), marketing and research in the faculty of social sciences. I also have had various website development opportunities where I use my self-taught skills in coding to improve current digital practices and websites in the university.
I also lead in the organisation of Code First: Girls community courses for females in the University and assist in the delivery and teaching of the Introduction to Web-Development courses. I’m very passionate about women in STEM initiatives and work closely with other communities (for example, more male-dominated hackathons) to ensure diversity in them!
I am also an avid blogger of 9+ years. I currently blog on pawlean.com where the aim of my blog is to share, inspire and motivate!
How did you first develop an interest in tech?
I think my interest in tech really started when I played my first video game, Fighting Force.
I was a hardcore console gamer for years and gradually found myself really enjoy playing online which somehow resulted in my interest in web development. I then started up a blog (my first website was up when I was about 9~ years old) and from there have been interested in the potential and growth in tech.
Despite the many barriers and stigma, I faced growing up, I didn’t give up in my love for tech and continued to choose “male-dominated” subjects like Computing at GCSEs. It was scary at the time, but I’m so glad that I never lost my interest in STEM. However, I saw many girls at the time did and therefore things like Code First: Girls, and Project Prep are so vital.
Are there any role models who you look up to or have influenced you?
Thankfully, I am surrounded by such an inspirational community of wonderful men and women who motivate me daily. They have all my role models and have been a positive influence on every aspect of my life.
I could talk about each one of them for hours but here are just a few who have had a either motivated me in the work I do currently or my future plans.
Since officially “graduating” from Code First: Girls as the Programmes Manager, Charlotte is now working as a developer. She’s a role model to me not only because of the fantastic work she’s done with Code First: Girls and getting more young girls into technology and entrepreneurship but further proving to me, and other girls out there that:
A) you don’t need a Computer Science degree to be a developer. Charlotte came from a non-technical background.
B) Learning to code is a superpower, not limited to men. She’s motivated me to continue learning – I recently started a Ruby on Rails course thanks to her influence!
I currently work with Bryony in my placement year, assisting her with aspects of learning and teaching and using new technology such as the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in applications in Higher Education. Yeah, she’s a one of those pretty cool virtual reality chicks.
She’s an inspiring role model to me because she’s another woman who proves that you don’t need a technical background to be working in a role that involves tech. Her passion for improving current practices in higher education using technology – which is a huge challenge – has shown me that being determined can get you further than you think!
I’m always so motivated to apply that mind set to continue pushing my own boundaries – personally and professionally.
You can see her current work with VR here.
I first met Matt in November 2016 when he came across my blog and approached me to work in collaboration with the Sheffield CF: G course and HackSheffield, with the hope of increasing female participation in hackathons!
Matt has been a constant source of inspiration for me. His genuine passion for inclusion in tech is what we need more of from guys; after all, inequality in STEM can’t be fully tackled without support from everyone!
I can say that now, months later, through a joint effort, we’ve generated a lot of interest in hackathons. The two communities we’ve mashed together is such an exciting thing to be a part of - I’m really looking forward to their next huge hackathon next academic year. Keep an eye out!
He’s also reminded me why I love what I do online on my blog and growing social media presence, and driven me to keep improving myself – who doesn’t want to work towards being a better version of themselves, every day?
You can find Pauline on Twitter as @paulienuh