Self-taught developer wants Korean women to rock tech
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Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/ Shutterstock

Lack of support did not stop Nalee Jang from becoming a Senior Engineer at Cloudike Korea; she now mentors young female engineers. Here’s her story.


Growing up poor, this 35-year old female engineer always dreamt of being a quality developer. “When I started out four years ago, there were no user guides, experienced engineers or instructions available. I learnt everything myself,” shared Nalee Jang, one of Korea’s leading experts in open source software.

But the lack of support did not deter her and she never gave up learning. Jang was one of Korea’s first software coders for OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system powering both open public and private cloud platforms, and providing tools to setup large-scale virtualisation environments.

Her hard work and determination paid off in February 2015 when she was appointed Senior Engineer at Cloudike Korea, where she now manages the installation of OpenStack in cloud storage solutions. Jang has been leading the OpenStack community in Korea since 2013 and has inspired many young female developers.

Need for a support network

Jang believes in community sharing and a drive for the inclusion of all regardless of age, race, or gender. Whenever she was unable to find the solution to a coding problem back in 2011, she would turn to her peers. “When I was stuck, I asked the other OpenStack community members for help,” Jang explained.

Fast forward to 2014, Jang released The Art of OpenStack to share her experiences and knowledge with others in Korea starting out in the field. She also helped in developing the country’s first OpenStack seminar, ‘OpenStack in Korea’, held in January of this year. Around 800 participants took part in the event, a big success considering the virtual absence of the industry in Korea just a few years ago.

To help ease the path for women tech contributors, Jang is also a mentor to young female software engineers in Korea. She believes that by creating a support network, more women will be able to make the transition into meaningful and successful careers in engineering. “Working together allows for varied views, insights and sharing of knowledge,” she said.

Opportunities are high for women in tech

It is no secret that the tech startup industry globally is largely a male-dominated field and the fact still remains that only one-quarter of the workforce is female. According to a recent study by Babson College, female tech startup CEOs account for just 3% of the total. Many of the women who do choose to pursue tech-related careers report tales of workplace discrimination, harassment and unfair pay.

Jang said, “The working environment for women has been enhanced over the years. Opportunities are high for women in tech, but it’s the lack of encouragement that obstructs them to work actively in this male-dominant industry. We should engage role models and successful female engineers to promote and encourage women.”

“In a workplace, females have a different communication style, way of thinking and a different way of expressing emotions. We should understand each other and accept the difference,” she added.

Advice to entrepreneurs

Jang, who is fast becoming a pioneer for female engineers beyond Korea, is on a mission to protect, empower and promote OpenStack software and the community around it, including users, developers and the entire ecosystem.

Ask for help

According to Jang, many working women have the responsibility of taking care of their homes and kids while excelling at work. “You don’t have to feel the pressure to become the perfect mother. You should find a partner who shares core household tasks, respects and supports your career. And if you have already found (this) partner, ask him for help,” she said.

Work together and find the right mentor

“When I had difficulty in coding with OpenSource, I asked the community members to help me and I learnt faster and found solutions more easily. Don’t try to it all on your own. Working together allows for varied views, insights and knowledge sharing. Working together is always better than working alone,” she stated. Jang also stressed the importance of having the right mentor to get proper guidance and support.

This post was originally published on e27.

Featured Image Credit: wavebreakmedia/ Shutterstock

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Twishy Shahi

About Twishy Shahi

A writer at heart, Twishy thinks that no idea is small and nothing is a mistake. Some of the great works come from beautiful mistakes that are perfectly imperfect. She believes in unearthing new talent and feels that genius can be written on a bar napkin too. Incisive reporting coupled with exceptional ideas has been the love of her life. When not writing, one can find her exploring the best places to hang out with loved ones.

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