Elena Menshikova, founder of the Voronezh company MITLabs, has been working in IT for almost ten years. All these years, she has had to disprove the common notion that computer technology is not a woman’s field.

Here are a couple of quotes from her interview:

At first, the team did not really believe in my legitimacy as a manager: I had to work and establish relationships. Everyone separately can be a great specialist, but will not give results if they are not properly “cooked”. You can’t raise your voice at one person — he immediately falls into a stupor, while another starts working only when you explain to him the importance and urgency of the task. I position my MITLabs as a family-type company: we have no rigid hierarchy, no main and non-principal people, fairly free conditions for visiting or not visiting the office — someone likes to work at home, someone is introverted, someone is extroverted. Colleagues perceive me not as a boss, but as a leader — a person who is ready to take personal responsibility for what we do.

I have a feminine style of business management, if you like, and I am not ashamed of it at all. At work, I create a nest — I gather chicks, put money in each one’s beak, and try to make it cozy. I want to be loved and love our company, for which I am ready to fight. Now we have twenty people working in our office in Voronezh, and part of the team works remotely, in neighboring cities and Moscow. In total, 83 people work with us on a monthly basis. 

Full version of the interview (in Russian) on the Glasnaya.media website



Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova
Photo walk with Elena Menshikova, a Voronezh IT girl, for the “Glasnaya” project. Porto Photographer Kristina Brazhnikova

Glasnaya” is a social project aimed at fighting stereotypes. In our society, the role of women is still defined through stereotypes that are imposed from childhood and passed on from generation to generation. We feel sorry when women spend their lives trying to conform to other people’s ideas, when they betray themselves in order to “fit in”. We want to see the people behind the social and gender roles. 

The heroines of the Vlasnaya project may seem “strange”, “special”, “outstanding”, “stupid” or “too smart” to some because they do not meet the expectations of their environment in some way, whether they live in a traditional patriarchal society or in a feminist environment, in the city or in the countryside.

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