MotherBoard – feat. Jessica Silva Carvalho, Full-Stack Developer | Lecturer at Le Wagon
The purpose of our ‘MotherBoard’ content series is to highlight incredible working mums within tech & data, as well as businesses that are supportive and progressive within their approach to creating more inclusive tech & data teams for women.
Amber @ ADLIB: Can you please introduce yourself, your role and why you feel supporting mums working within tech & data is so important?
I’m Jess, a Lecturer on Le Wagon’s web development bootcamp and mum to an amazing 3 year-old. I embarked on my journey into tech during maternity leave, so for me supporting mums in tech is very much about understanding that we are individuals with career goals, experience and skillsets that are just as deserving of the same opportunities as everyone else. We’re trying to raise a generation of girls who have the confidence and self-belief to study STEM subjects and later pursue careers in science and tech. But what’s actually waiting on the other side can be a very unfriendly, non-supportive space for women and mothers to build their careers.
Amber @ ADLIB: As a lecturer at Le Wagon and a mum, what does a typical day look like for you?
Chaos! I freelance with Le Wagon which is great right now as I get to spend most of my days with my daughter. The days I do teach are far more structured and honestly much calmer! A regular day is nursery runs, the occasional tantrum and wondering if my toddler will ever eat a single vegetable. At night is when the dev magic happens. Usually prepping for lectures and live coding sessions, working on my own projects or taking some time to up skill. My work bio is “mum by day, dev by night” and this could not be more true.
Amber @ ADLIB: How have you managed to build a successful career, whilst also embarking on motherhood and what challenges have you faced?
It’s been a long journey, and one which I’m still currently on. I didn’t instantly adapt to motherhood, it was hard. I suffered with postpartum anxiety and didn’t know it at the time, which drastically knocked my confidence. This made taking that step to not only go back to work, but also make a complete career change extremely intimidating and scary.
Motherhood is mentally tough, but it’s also quite empowering at times! It’s a big cliche but I honestly did just tell myself “Jess, if you can birth a child you can do this” and I did. I also have support from my partner, my peers at Le Wagon and especially my mum. Whether it’s freelancing opportunities, childcare, or making sure I have sufficient time for my work. My journey back into work and building my career has certainly been a team effort.
Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think is important for businesses to look out for so that future mums of tech can be fully supported?
It’s not a ‘one shoe fits all’ situation so businesses need to think about approaching and encouraging mums to have an open discussion about what they need support with. The employee-to-employer relationship is two sided, but often businesses can make us feel like if we speak up about having extra needs we become a nuisance, and in turn disposable compared to our peers.
Whether it’s reduced/flexible working hours, additional time off for complicated pregnancies and sick children, or even helping mums catch up with any training opportunities they may have missed whilst on maternity leave. It’s important to make them feel seen, supported and included.
Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think the government needs to do to support mums more to make it easier to balance a career and parenting?
I found (this is still an issue I have now) that the lack of childcare options for working parents is something that really needs to be addressed. Like many parents I really had to do the math, weigh up the pros and cons and quite frankly returning to work and coming in at the average salary for a Junior Developer barely covers the cost of nurseries in London. Meanwhile, non-working parents are entitled to government funded childcare hours? While I do believe every child should be entitled to funded childcare it is a prime example of how the government are not focused on supporting working mums/parents. It actually feels like quite the opposite.
Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think is the best part of being a woman within the tech industry?
I have had the absolute pleasure of teaching mums who similarly to me have decided to change careers and learn to code. I’ve found myself sharing my experiences with them, and often that voice who during overwhelming moments reminded them they are doing an amazing job. I’ve then seen these same women successfully make it through the bootcamp and land roles in tech. It’s an extremely rewarding feeling and I’m very proud to have contributed to such a positive change in their lives.
Amber @ ADLIB: Do you have any final words of advice to our readers about balancing being a mum and having a successful career?
There is no such thing as a perfect plan, sometimes things will feel easy and that they’re going exactly as planned, while other days can feel like you’ve suddenly been pulled out of warp and are drifting, lost in space. Your journey won’t be like anyone else’s. You’re not working too fast or too slow, you are simply moving in a direction and pace that was intended for you and your family.
Amber Rowbottom & The MotherBoard Team