FAR sees education not only as an opportunity to a better life and better future, but as a tool to make whole societies more open and equal for all. Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than in Armenia’s, and specifically Gyumri’s, IT sector. Since the founding of FAR’s Gyumri Information Technology Center (GITC) in 2005, the number of women working in Armenia’s IT sector has exploded. Getting access to the proper education is always the first step, as GITC alumna Amalya remembers.
When Amalya first set foot in the IT world, it wasn’t hard to notice thatthere were very few other female programmers alongside her in Gyumri.But the stereotype that IT was a ‘man's world’ never deterred her from pursuing her goals.
Amalya applied to GITC in 2012 on the advice of her older brother Andranik, who is a Yerevan-based programmer himself. Andranik told her about the limitless prospects that the IT field had to offer, and also about embracing the hard work and sleepless nights it sometimes takes to reach those prospects.
Soon Amalya was enrolled in an 8-month programming course at GITC in addition to her economics studies at the Gyumri Polytechnic University. Every day after her economics classes ended, she had to run to GITC and stay up all night to study. It was a struggle for her at the beginning and she came close to quitting. But she remembered all the potential opportunities that waited for her on the other side, and it helped carry her through the late nights. “To become an IT specialist, you must be willing to spend a lot of time in front of your screen studying and practicing; frankly speaking, it was not usual for me at first. I had to run to my classes early in the morning which were over at 2 p.m. then sit in front of the screen until 1:00 a.m.; I even put aside my MA thesis, but I don't regret my decision,” she said.
After graduation, Amalya had an internship at GITC, then worked at severalIT companies until she finally landed at LifeBeget two years ago as a FrontEnd Developer. “First, I was the only woman on our team. However, now we have five women in the room so our male colleagues are getting more accustomed to us,” she smiled gently.
Apart from her full time job, Amalya also teaches programming to schoolchildren aged 12-16 at the Gyumri Technology Center and humbly notes that her students like her. “Once I was overloaded with projects so I asked my colleague to teach my class for a short while, but soon I learnedthat my students started skipping the classes and told me they would be back once I am back.”
Now as a mid-career programmer, Amalya encourages newcomers never toshy away from challenges and work hard to achieve their potential in the IT sector. “Overall, GITC was the start of a new phase of my life, and now I cannot imagine my life without IT. I think my life would have been boring if I had selected economics, so I don't regret choosing this path. My family is also contented with my decision…maybe except my mom who often complains that I'm seldom at home.”
GTech continues to be a hub of innovation and transformative change for dozens of other women like Amalya, contributing to Armenia’s international reputation as an IT powerhouse. GTech is living proof that a society thrives when every member feels empowered and is able to access their full potential.