Olesea Oaserele excelled at mathematics and physics at her high school in Moldova. She hoped to study IT at the Technical University of Moldova, but when she told a teacher about her dreams he told her not to bother. IT was not for girls.
“It was like a slap in the face,” Olesea said. Especially as she knew that the same teacher was encouraging other students with lower grades to apply for that very course.
“They were all boys, of course,” Olesea explained.
Undaunted, Olesea persisted and was admitted to the Technical University despite being told to give up. This was not the only time Olesea overcame obstacles to become what she is today: a role model for women in Moldova’s IT sector, and one of Amdaris’ most valued employees.
After graduation she joined Moldtelecom, the country’s legacy telecoms provider, where she worked as an analyst. A few years later she faced another challenge common to women everywhere, but especially in Moldova, when she left her job following the birth of her son.
Professional childcare for toddlers is not widely available in Moldova. Women who cannot count on support from family members typically take up to two years off work while waiting to be eligible for support from the state-run childcare system.
“Everything changes so quickly in the IT sector that staying at home for even one year means a very big gap in your career,” Olesea explained. “Coming back from maternity leave is really hard.”
For Olesea, there was a further complication. Her son developed several allergies and the childcare providers were unable to provide allergy-friendly meals. She had no choice but to wait until he was much older, age 5, before she could resume her career.
Resume it she did, however, and in 2014 Olesea got a new job with Amdaris as a Junior QA. Olesea was just our 37th employee, and since then she has been an important part of our phenomenal growth to over 250 staff. Alongside Amdaris’ growth, Olesea’s career has also skyrocketed. She is now one of six delivery leads at our Chisinau centre, and one of our most publicly visible employees.
In 2019 Olesea returned to her alma mater as a teacher and role model as part of Amdaris’ ongoing support for the Technical University of Moldova. There she teaches a course to over 100 students entitled “Software Requirements Analysis and Specification,” which she designed and prepared herself.
As part of her university role Olesea formally mentors two students, but unofficially she serves as a role model for a much wider group.
“When we have free talks I’m always trying to explain to students about business, and in particular I try to help women understand they can do well in IT. Too many girls think they can’t do actual development, that they can’t write code. They assume it is boring, and they would have to spend all of their time with their nose on a monitor.”
Olesea’s work championing the cause of women in IT has also caught the eye of the wider tech community in Moldova. In November she was named as one of eleven TechWomen Ambassadors, and takes part in monthly meet-ups for encouraging more women in tech.
Despite advances, a relatively recent encounter demonstrated to Olesea that there is still a long way to go. While giving a talk on IT at a local high school in 2018 she was approached by five to six female students. They asked if she really meant it when she said women could have successful careers in tech.
“I was really shocked to realise that, in the years since I left high school, basically nothing had changed,” Olesea said.
But there has been at least one change of heart since Olesea left high school. She recently ran into the high school teacher who had told her girls could not have successful careers in IT.
“We laughed,” Olesea said. “I think he felt a bit embarrassed looking back.
“At the time he was trying to be helpful. Now he knows better.”