Stories of Women in Engineering – Rita Prates
“You can do it!”
Years ago, Rita could not imagine working as a software developer. “Never in the world could I see myself spending the whole day sitting in front of a computer,” she thought. “But then I had a programing class and the challenge of trying to find the right tools and to meet that challenge made me like the field.” At the end of the day, Rita chose computer science and engineering, “because I feel this allows me to work on everything, in all areas.”
What do you do at ALTEN as a software developer? Why is it important?
Right now, I’m working on a project for managing train tracks. For example, when an escalator stops an alarm is triggered. The people managing the line know that there has been an accident and can inform others. This is important to me because when I was at university, I had to go to my classes every day by train. I wanted to know if the train service was interrupted because I had to get to my classes on time. So, I feel that if I bring my best to this job, someone like me will benefit.
Were there a lot of women studying with you?
As you may expect, my colleagues were mostly men. My first year, we were around 120 students and only 30 or so were women. Personally, I feel that as a woman I can add value in the field of computer science because I feel we have a broader view of what’s going on. I also feel that my example can empower other women to join.
By now, I’m used to working with men every day, but on the project I am working on there are other ALTEN consultants and most of them are women. It’s quite nice to see that the company tries to bring more women on board – this offers a broader view to their clients.
What attracted you to ALTEN?
One of the things that struck me the most was that ALTEN works with clients that have interesting projects, with an impact on everyday life. Another thing is that ALTEN offers the opportunity to work at offices in other countries. If at some point in my career I want to have an experience abroad, I would have an open door to the market outside of Portugal.
What do you enjoy the most about working at ALTEN?
I would say, first of all, the people I work with. I think most of us bring our best to the table so that the client can deliver the best product. Also, I enjoy that I’m able to give my input while also learning from my colleagues and improving my skills. And the fact that I work on projects that make a difference in people’s lives – that’s important to me.
I also appreciate that ALTEN encourages work-life balance. This enables me, in my free time, to enrich other areas, like going to the gym. I spend most of my day seated at a desk, so it’s a way to relieve my stress. I also like arts and crafts – in particular ceramics, which allows me to nourish my creative side. As a software developer, this helps me look for tools and apply them creatively.
What motivates you?
Knowing that I can bring value to a project that in turn brings value to people’s lives motivates me, but also having the opportunity to learn every day. I feel that if I learn something every day, even if it’s just changing the way I talk to someone, it’s important. It makes a difference.
What is the advantage of working in a consultancy company?
I believe that the advantage is that if at some time I want to try another area, another field – for example banking, or something related to medicine – ALTEN will have a client in that area, and I can move to that client. As a software developer I can work on anything – there will always be a system that needs someone to program it.
And what does Creating Tomorrow’s Work Today mean to you?
For me, it means that I can contribute to the future with the systems that I help to build. Also, being a woman in the field of computer science, I’m hopefully helping to build a better world tomorrow by inspiring other girls and women to join this field.
What would you say to a girl who was doubting whether to choose a career in science?
I would tell her not to be afraid: “You can do it!” It’s a male-dominated area, but we can work there and there are already some women in leadership positions.
Women at the heart of technological transformation
ALTEN’s women and men are the driving force behind our business. Our Group’s ability to develop and promote the best talent available is fundamental in enabling us to meet our customers’ needs. Over past years, we have made concerted efforts to counter certain widely held stereotypes and misconceptions in order to encourage engineering vocations among young women. This collection of profiles, Stories of Women in Engineering, is aimed at just that.
“ALTEN is committed to motivating women to join the technical and scientific fields. We hope these Stories of Women in Engineering will contribute to a growing awareness of the vital role women play in science and technology, as innovators, as experts and as colleagues.” Simon Azoulay, Chair and CEO.
Come along their journeys building tomorrow’s world.