Katerina Trajchevska is a busy woman. The CEO and founder of Adeva also makes time to speak at conferences, mentor women in tech, and blog about her experiences. We felt lucky to get on her calendar!
TINYpulse made the connection from Seattle, Washington to Skopje, Macedonia in advance of International Women's Day to talk awards, remote work, and the future of employee experience.
TINYpulse: How would you describe what you do at Adeva?
Trajchevska: Adeva is helping businesses scale their engineering teams with remote developers. Our goal is to help companies reach beyond their local talent and get access to world-class engineers from around the globe.
We've been building an exclusive community of remote developers where, apart from the remote work, we give developers unique opportunities for professional growth. Our vision is to bring equal opportunities to developers no matter their location, gender or race and that's what drives us forward.
Last year, Adeva was named the most inclusive tech company by Women In Tech. What does that award mean to you? How did it feel to win?
It was an incredible feeling and completely unexpected! There were these amazing women in my category, doing great things for women in tech, so for me it was a huge honor even being nominated.
To us, the award is recognition for everything we've been doing in the past years to bring exciting opportunities to developers outside of the global tech centers. Coming from a small country with scarce opportunities myself, I see it as proof that it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from as long as you have the drive and dedication to make a change. And it's a strong motivation to keep transferring that belief to our community and keep up with our efforts to bring equal opportunities to developers everywhere.
You’re leading Adeva’s “Female Bootcamp” - it’s the first initiative for women in tech in Macedonia. What’s it like being first in that space? What have you learned?
The hardest part of being the first in this space was that we didn't have enough data for the state of women in tech in Macedonia. So, we had to invest a lot of time in research before starting the program. What we learned was interesting.
The gender gap in IT Universities in Macedonia was almost nonexistent, yet there's been almost no improvement in the tech industry in the past years. What we understood with this research is that even though there's an increasing trend of girls starting their studies in software engineering, only a small percentage actually pursue a career in tech.
Even though there's an increasing trend of girls starting their studies in software engineering, only a small percentage actually pursue a career in tech.
With the Female Bootcamp, we aimed to empower girls to continue their journey in technology and support them before they face the crossroads that comes between graduating and finding a job. We learned a lot in the process, and we're ready to make it even better next year.
What do you consider to be the biggest gender gap in employee experience right now?
When it comes to lowering the gender gap, the main focus is on creating non-biased evaluation process or an inclusive workplace. Yet, my experience has shown, and I'm sure many would agree, that the main problem is one step backward.
That was actually the thing that motivated us to start the Female Bootcamp: the low number of applications by female developers we continuously got. We analyzed the data and it turned out that only 12% of all applicants were women.
If you think about this, it's all around. Look at tech conferences: even though the speakers' lineup is getting more diverse over time, less than 10% of the crowd are women. I believe we need to get to the root cause of it. And we can do that by empowering women through setting an example.
That means more women on leadership positions, tech conferences, or online, spreading their voices as experts in their field, not only as "women in tech".
You’re an advocate of remote work. Does working remotely affect your efforts for diversity and inclusion?
It's actually quite the opposite if we think about inclusion in its broader sense, not only as women in engineering. Working remotely is itself a huge opportunity to make your team more diverse and inclusive, just because it doesn't restrict you to your one geographic area.
Working remotely is itself a huge opportunity to make your team more diverse and inclusive, just because it doesn't restrict you to your one geographic area.
When it comes to women, we haven't noticed a big difference after moving to remote work. We succeeded in creating an environment that's inclusive and welcoming, but we still see a gap at the application process. So, before it even comes to the environment. In the next period, we'll be focusing on finding ways to address this and we'll definitely share our experience.
When you’re helping organizations hire, are there elements you look for that indicate it’ll be a good place for women to work?
We're focusing a lot on the company culture of the organization and we carefully choose who we work with. Our approach doesn't focus on women in general, but on each developer as an individual. The main element we look for is an environment where they can thrive and grow professionally.
What needs to happen to accelerate improvements in gender equity and equality? What gets in the way?
I completely encourage events and initiatives for supporting women in tech and communities that are all about women. Yet, sometimes it seems like all-female events can intensify the problem instead of addressing it.
At an event I attended a while ago, I chatted with one of the girls there and she clearly expressed her satisfaction of being in a "menless" environment. She said she felt liberated and finally felt like she belongs.
And it's really great to find a community where you belong, where people have your back. What's not so great is going from that environment [back] to the real world where you work on a diverse team. It's stressful, to say the least.
So, I would say the challenge is to find a way to support women while still keeping the environment diverse and real.
What’s something an organization can do tomorrow to improve the employee experience for women?
Things you can do tomorrow usually backfire! Like lowering the evaluation criteria so more women can join: this is degrading to women and creates an environment where women are not treated as equally capable.
I believe that what makes a real change are the long term efforts. So, tomorrow you can start outlining your long term plan.
Try to bring more women to leadership positions, create an environment where everyone can speak up, and ask your team for feedback. Learn from them, that's the best way to create an environment that's really inclusive.