August 19, 2022

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Elisa Caballero, the successful computer engineer who fights the cliches of the profession

Elisa Caballero, the successful computer engineer who fights the cliches of the profession

“As a woman in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) world, you sometimes feel a little lonely. I have felt that way throughout my career, in rooms and meetings full of men,” says Elisa Caballero, global director of engineering and operations and director of Tech Hub Madrid at Glovo, 37 year, and she adds, “Although I’ve always been easy to adjust to, the truth is I felt more protected when I had a woman in the room.” The computer engineer has more than thirteen years of experience working in various digital companies, such as the travel website Expedia, the Vrbo platform (formerly HomeAway), Banco Santander and Indra Systems.

When she started studying computer engineering at the Autonomous University of Madrid, there were only 10 girls in her class. “I was fortunate to have a group of four friends who accompanied each other throughout the race. Being so close to them made the difference in the lack of diversity in the classroom so painful,” she says. That was 2003. They still use floppy disks to store and deliver business. Entering the race, she was not only surprised how few women were studying, but she was also studying. “There were only two teachers. They were the few references I had,” he recalls.

I made a group of four friends who accompanied us throughout the race. Having them so close made the lack of diversity not so painful.”


Elizabeth Knight

However, the trend appears to be slowly reversing. We have seen that the number of girls is increasing every year. If we were ten out of 100, in the next cycle there were 15 and in the next twenty. We thought it would balance out quickly. However, once I was working, when I was looking for candidates to hire, I found that the number of women had gone down again. We’ve gone backwards,” Caballero laments.

Gender stereotypes still exist in the university. Only 28.5% of girls study jobs related to engineering, industry and construction, and 12.9% in computer science

Charged

In fact, according to a UNESCO report, only 35% of students enrolled in STEM-related careers in higher education are women, and engineering is one of the fields with the lowest number of women enrolled. According to Eurostat data from 2020, although Spain is the country in Europe with the largest number of women scientists and engineers, accounting for 49.3% of people working in these fields, only 25% of people have enrolled some engineering students in branch campuses from Women.

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This idea spread that it means programming without rest, alone with your computer in a dark room.”

For Elisa Caballero, this decrease in the presence of females in the sector is mainly explained by certain themes found around computing. “This idea spread that it involves programming without rest, alone with your computer in a dark room. I think a lot of women think they don’t want to for their future. But the truth is that you can do more. Not everything in computer science is Programming, and not everything has to be in front of a computer,” he asserts and points out: “There are many jobs that could be more about social skills or more creative… There are many possibilities, in particular as technology expands more and more.”

Occupation at the age of 11

Elisa Caballero knew she wanted to understand how a computer worked when she was eleven years old. It was 1996 and his parents bought one to be able to communicate with his brother, who had gone to live in the US for a year. “We had one of the first modems, which could not be used at the same time as a phone line. The fact that I could send a message to my brother and receive it on the same day, instantly on the other side of the world, made me curious. He wanted to know how computers and networks worked. And all that. To know what’s behind it, I had to study computer engineering,” Caballero recalls.

In his case, during the race, he was able to verify that programming wasn’t his specialty. “In my last year of the degree, almost all subjects had many hours of programming. I felt like I had run out of my lot. Fortunately, my first practices were already as a job analyst,” he points out. After three years at Indra Systems, at the age of 26, she decided to take a work experience abroad, as one of the Data Officers for the Banco Santander delegation in Boston, USA. “The data area is also great. I always compare that to going to the Prado Museum and having someone explain a painting to you,” he says.

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In addition, he took advantage of those five years in Boston to take a course in project management at Harvard University. “That’s when I switched to people management, which turns out to be what I like the most. I think my greatest talent is empathy, and I love working with people, and I really enjoy that social part,” Caballero explains. Far from the stereotypes associated with computer engineers, what she loves most about her job is interacting with others.

high demand

Another reason that may resonate for not initiating this type of race is that it is usually classified as very demanding. “During the race I had a really bad time, because there are many hours of studying. There I had to sacrifice my personal life, my friendships, because I did not have time. I program at all times, every day”, admits Computer Science, although he adds :”My brother always told me that one reaps what one sows. If you work hard today in a race like this, you will have many choices. He was absolutely right. I never missed work. I have always been able to choose and now live a very comfortable life, thanks to this The effort is precisely at the beginning. It is a long-term investment and the return is guaranteed.”

On the other hand, she points out: “Because there were so few women in the race, it seems that those of us who had reached a slightly higher position had to sacrifice the family. In my case, it was not like that, the situation is not happening at the moment”, He adds, “I see women around me fear that choosing motherhood means leaving their careers aside, or that they are no longer considered part of the leadership team. There are a lot of stigmas, and it is very important to bring more women into these professions to break them, to show that women can have children.” kids and continues to do its job well and add value when you want to join in, even if you decide to take a reduced day.”

It is very important to bring more women into these professions to prove that they can have children and do their job to the fullest.”

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Caballero chooses to work for companies that facilitate the well-being of their teams. “I look for companies I work for that align with my values, to support motherhood, to learn, so that you can take your time, travel, and take care of the person and the employee,” he points out and adds, “Moreover, I don’t have to be afraid to set limits I don’t go to work on Fridays.” After the hour that suits me, except in case of emergency.I have always loved keeping balance with my personal life, spending time with my family or friends, and making space for me hobbies, which includes playing sports, drawing and even making cakes. I don’t have hours to do everything I love,” he says between laughs.

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Since joining Glovo in July last year, Elisa Caballero has been responsible for creating main center A technology company in Madrid, with a team of more than 100 engineers and other technical specialists in charge. He explains that his leadership is not traditional, hierarchical and vertical. “The hierarchy does not suit me. Of course it leads main center It involves a series of responsibilities, but I consider that I am on the same level as the others and that each one contributes something different within the company. Hence also the diversity you have to have within teams,” he points out.

Along these lines, he explains, “The more diverse opinions, experiences, and backgrounds within teams, the richer the results they achieve. But it’s not only positive on a business level, but it also makes a person, whether a woman, a LGTBI+ group or someone with different types of Diversity, feel supported and empowered.”

BCN Fem Tech Women's Network, a working group of fifty experts in the technology sector.

BCN Fem Tech Women’s Network, a working group of fifty experts in the technology sector.

Barcelona City Hall

Elisa Caballero participates in many programs routing for girls. “We all have this impostor syndrome that makes it hard to feel like a role model to others. But I didn’t have any model to follow and the nice thing was that I was gradually able to create more reference points and break down stigmas so that they would feel more empowered when choosing this kind of career. They see that it’s not just coding, it’s a world technology It gives you a lot of options. Also, it’s a very big and growing world, where they can choose companies that align with their values, with what they believe in.”