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Breaking Stereotypes: Women Shaping the Future of QA in Brazil and Colombia

14 Mar 2024


This article is part of a series called "Stories of Women in Software Testing All around the World", launched on the 8th of March in a post with snippets from every interview. In the week from the 11th to the 15th, we will launch the complete interviews of all the women.


The interview was done by Brightest with Larissa Rosochansky, Senior IT Global Leader - Portfolio & Demand Management at Mars. For the original interview in Portuguese, please click here.


Can you share the story of how you started your career in QA software and what motivated you to pursue this field?


In 2003, I was working as a business analyst in a pharmaceutical company and was affected by a major layoff. In that company, I was the link between business and development, and I validated that what was ordered was being delivered correctly, including the visual identity. When I was looking for another position, they asked me what I did, I explained, and they told me: that's QA! In 2004, I saw a vacancy for a test analyst in a town in the interior of São Paulo and decided to apply. It was for IBM, in the newly created area of Testing, which was starting to provide testing services for IBM in the United States. At the time, there were 15 people there. I joined, did training that taught me what formal testing was, and fell in love. We grew to over 300 people, and I held every testing position at IBM, from analyst, team leader, test manager, consultant, until I became the head of the testing area, thinking about strategy and selling services, over 14 years. Testing became my second name and my passion, and I met my husband, also a quality professional, at IBM.


Reflecting on your experience, could you highlight a project or accomplishment that you are particularly proud of?


Each project has taught me something different. I think the main thing is the mindset of eternal learning. As an analyst and team leader, my most memorable project was a test of a payroll solution involving several Latin American countries, frontend in Lotus Notes, and backend Oracle Forms. When I arrived at the project, I realized that the requirements were not in the best possible shape and that the front end had never talked to the back end... Many months later, we managed to have a quality solution with a satisfied client. And in Spanish! At the time, I only knew the basics. It was an unforgettable learning experience! As head of the testing area, I was very pleased with a solution design I did with my team for a test factory using all the most innovative accelerators, from test optimization with pairwise to defect prevention using AI, which at the time was in its infancy. This work involved a lot of learning, many areas, a lot of convincing and inspiration until people were able to see things from the same perspective as me, which was much more of a vision, an inspiration, of what could be. When we signed the contract, the feeling of accomplishment led everyone to believe was beautiful!


Have you faced any unique challenges or struggles as a woman in the QA software industry?


I was the first in many things in my area... the first focal point, the first manager... and I always wanted to bring other women with me. The main challenge I saw was the assumption I often encountered that too many women working together generated a lot of "noise" and intrigue. Also, we were too emotional. In the patriarchal society we live in, we are brought up to see other women as competition, and often the intrigues were because of this, and because of the predominantly male environment, which instigated us. But as we evolved as an area, and we had more women growing into leadership roles, I noticed that sororities began to speak louder, and women helped each other more. As a pioneer, I was often considered more masculine than feminine, and my assertiveness was seen as aggressiveness. It took years for me to be comfortable in my skin and thus be able to have my say without fear of being frowned upon.


What are some ways in which the participation of women in QA software can enhance the usability of software products for a wider range of users?


Women have a keen sense of empathy and are therefore able to connect much more easily with the user's needs, and we are strong enough to fight for this vision. What's more, the more diverse perspectives a product has, the more comprehensive it will be. There are many stories of products created by predominantly male teams that, when they reached the market, failed badly: voice recognition software that didn't recognize female voices, facial recognition that didn't recognize black skin, and many others. If a company wants its product to be used by everyone, its development/QA team must also be as diverse as its audience.


How can the industry evolve to better support the growth and success of women professionals?


I've learned a lot from wonderful women who have appeared as leaders in my life. They served as an example that I too could get there and that I should have my voice, without being afraid to use it. Having role models, people we can be inspired by is essential if we want to see ourselves in leadership positions. There is a gap in female leaders everywhere. Here in Brazil, it's also due to the amount of time we take off on maternity leave and the double or triple shifts we often have. Men also receiving paternity leave, so that they can be with their wives at this time, is a good step towards the evolution of female leadership, as well as the understanding that women can add a lot to a company and that our leadership style may be different, but it works in the same way. Support groups for women leaders, exchanges, and career acceleration programs for top-talent women are excellent ways of supporting women. As well as making women aware that we were brought up in a patriarchal environment, but that doesn't define us.



The interview was done by Brightest with Maria Clara Choucair, Founder and President of HASTQB & CEO of Choucair Testing S.A..


Can you share the story of how you started your career in QA software and what motivated you to pursue this field?


I worked on a project with an American company, and from there I learned the field. I loved it because it allowed me to serve society through the digital assets that I intervened with the discipline of testing met their objectives, had no problems and I saw how users benefited from them in a better way.


Have you faced any unique challenges or struggles as a woman in the QA software industry?


We have faced many challenges, I started alone and today we are a company of 700 people. There are many company-building challenges.


Looking ahead, what changes or advancements do you anticipate in the QA software industry?


There are many changes coming in the future, specifically in the area of development, in how we build digital assets. And for that, we have to use the whole artificial intelligence topic and obviously know how to use it. We are going to have to learn a lot of mathematics and statistics and face solving problems of daily life with more formal topics.


How can the industry evolve to better support the growth and success of women professionals?


I invite women, specifically, so that we can venture into or continue to delve deeper into the topics of statistics, mathematics, and STEM in general, because, in addition to being a very fun topic to see how we solve society's problems more accurately, it generates a lot of welfare for society.