In celebration of Women’s History Month, VMware presents a four-part interview series where inspiring women speak about their journey in STEM. They reveal challenges they faced, share stories about their role models and share the lessons learned along the way as guidance for women looking to break into the world of technology. Check out the additional interviews in this series with Sonia Gulina, Megan Coppin and Melissa Dunkerley.
Antonella Milizia is greatly inspired by the film and book series Divergent. In the series, a group of people known as the divergent are said to “move in several different directions and can’t be confined to one way of thinking.”
Antonella identifies with the divergent and sees her creative way of thinking as a professional asset. Throughout her decades-long IT career, she may have been the only woman in the room, but it has never been intimidating. In fact, she has thrived. Now, as more women are entering the IT world, Antonella hopes that her experience can inspire even more diversity in the field.
Antonella’s IT career began decades ago, after graduating with a computer science degree from the University of Pisa and a master’s in information security from La Sapienza University. Recently, Antonella earned her second master’s degree in clinical psychology.
Her first job was as a software developer, where her creativity was a huge boon to the research and development team. A few years later, she was promoted to a team leader for the development group of an Italian company. Antonella had always been attracted to the international diversity of multinational organizations, so she started her first job at a multinational company in 1999. She then found her new professional home at one of VMware’s 33 global locations.
Antonella is currently a Lead Solution Engineer in VMware’s Italy office. When she joined VMware more than 10 years ago, she was the only woman in a technical role for the SEMEA region; however, she never felt out of place.
“I was happy to be the only woman in the technical role because, for me, it was like a redemption from all prejudices related to women in IT. Now things are changed but fifty years ago, if you were a girl born in a small southern village of Italy, the only path intended for you was ‘ago, filo e cucchiarella’ (needle, thread and spoon). So, a woman in a technical role was totally unthinkable.”
The Importance of Diversity
Diversity is incredibly important to Antonella. “Diversity is something that goes far beyond the difference of gender, race, culture or religion and concerns openness and the ability to put together different ideas to create something unique and brilliant.”
She likens diversity to a hand where all the fingers are the same. A painter with a hand of five-pointer fingers is unlikely to produce brush strokes as masterfully as if they had a hand of five different types of fingers that use their differences to work together and create something beautiful.
Never Give Up
Antonella encourages aspiring IT professionals to persevere. “What I feel like saying to young people who are entering the world of technology is not to be discouraged from difficulties. What matters in life is not how many difficulties we face but how we face them. That’s all the difference.”
Antonella’s final words of wisdom are, “Believe in yourself and in your abilities, think creatively and don’t be afraid to be ‘divergent.’”