women in tech

“Chunk it!”  

If you take nothing else away from Stela’s incredible story, take that phrase. (But we have a feeling you’ll have plenty more to take away by the time you’re done reading.) 

“Chunk it!” is a strategy Stela learned early in life that has helped her “immensely.” She discovered that if she tries to figure out everything in the foreseeable, and even more distant, future, she’ll get overwhelmed, and “the world starts looking like a scary place.” Stela learned to identify a goal or dream and break it into immediate, digestible chunks. She says, “Focus on the first chunk and do the best you can, assess how you’re doing, adjust the next chunk as needed, and move forward.” 

We should all heed Stela’s advice. She “chunked” her way through a B.A. in English, a move to the United States from her native Bulgaria, a fellowship in Literature and Psychology, a Master’s in English Literature, a Ph.D. in English Literature with a focus on psychology, and an incredible tenure at Corel/Alludo of almost 27 years and counting, with an impressive record of impact. 

Bridging the gap between tech and academics 

At first glance, the tech world might seem incompatible with Stela’s stellar academic background. And yet, it makes perfect sense. Stela started as a woman in tech at what was then known as Corel. She began her career as a technical writer while still pursuing her Ph.D. She crafted content for Help systems and manuals, created templates, authored marketing documentation, and worked on localized documentation and training materials, among other tasks.  

Stela had to test products to write effective documentation, so she learned the products well. She also learned about product design and user experience, which coalesced perfectly with her interest in psychology. She started thinking “a lot” about UI/UX and focused her attention on elements of design and user experience that could be improved. 

She made more than a few suggestions that were implemented, and she loved that element of her job. This excitement motivated her to keep learning. As a woman in tech, she’s still improving product design and user experience at Alludo—and still learning. 

“I have managed design teams for 17 years. I took design courses, went to conferences, and learn every day from the talented team I work with. Through User Assistance, I am still rooted in creating learning materials for our customers, and I currently work with two amazing professionals. I love my job and am happy that my journey took me to where I am today.” 

Stela and her team serve as user advocates who understand users’ unique pain points and needs, workflows and businesses, and interactions and aspirations. They design and enhance features, create customized experiences, and produce learning materials—all while balancing Alludo’s legacy with leading-edge innovation. 

A community of strength and support  

Through many promotions and successes, Stela keeps “chunking it.” She reminds young women fresh out of school to “Keep an open mind” and “not assume that they need to make all the big decisions for the rest of their lives.” She encourages young women in tech to dream big, explore opportunities, and always surround themselves with supportive people who lift them up. 

Stela is quick to name the people who have elevated her throughout her career. She heaps praise on her team, on mentors, and on her mother, who relocated from Bulgaria to help her care for her children when they were young. Now that Stela’s children are grown and she has achieved significant success in her career, she’s eager to pay it forward. Today, she is heavily involved in community work in addition to her job and actively seeks opportunities to mentor others. “I have been a mentor to quite a few women already, and this has been a very rewarding experience. If anyone is interested in approaching me, I will be honored.”  

As we continue celebrating Women’s History Month, Stela says, “There is no field in which women cannot be successful if we stay strong and persevere. “My hope is to build a strong community of women supporting each other, and I see myself contributing to this vision as a mentor and advocate.” 

By the way, if you’re inspired to “chunk it,” you might also enjoy Stela’s list of principles that have helped her personally and professionally. Here they are, in her words: 

Be strong but be humble. 

Work hard and persevere. 

Work on your emotional intelligence and situational awareness.  

Don’t compare yourself to others, just to the best version of the person you could become.  

Don’t be afraid of change and embrace new opportunities.  

Be empathetic and a good human.  

Joanne’s journey into the tech industry, more than 30 years ago, was anything but conventional. After graduating with a Business Degree, she embarked on a soul-searching adventure through Southeast Asia. Returning home, she found herself at a crossroads, unsure of her career path. A chance recommendation from a friend led her to a technical data center position at Transport Canada, despite her limited computer experience.

Taking a chance on tech

“When I joined Transport Canada, the only computer experience I had was with a DOS-based computer and WordPerfect,” Joanne recalls. “I didn’t know anything about Windows, UNIX, CAD, or GIS systems, which is what the job entailed.”

But Joanne’s friend saw potential in her, citing her management science degree as a solid foundation for learning the ropes. It was a sink-or-swim situation. No one was available to train Joanne for the highly technical role, which tasked Joanne with troubleshooting complex workspaces and working with cutting-edge technology featuring unfamiliar software and hardware tools. “I had to rely on myself to figure out and overcome each problem I encountered,” she reflects.

Joanne sought out available resources and not only survived in the role but thrived in it. She mastered the tech surrounding her—and got her first taste of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, which was a fortuitous introduction. She and her team had a high-profile project that involved taking maps from Transport Canada’s CAD/GIS systems and importing them into CorelDRAW, where a large format poster would be printed to represent the size and scale of every airport in Canada.

Leading and inspiring others

Her time at Transport Canada laid the groundwork for the rest of her career as a woman in tech. She joined Alludo when it was still known as Corel and flourished in various roles, ultimately landing as Lead Program Manager.

“In my current position, I wear many hats,” Joanne explains. “I work closely with cross-functional teams, from project management to product development, ensuring we’re all aligned towards our goals.” Joanne is a Scrum Master and versed in Agile and iterative development, and is a long way from her earliest days of being thrown into the deep end of the tech pool. She’s sailing through it now as a woman in tech, leading and inspiring others along the way.

An advocate for women in tech

It’s not lost on Joanne that she has achieved success in a traditionally male-dominated field. Being a woman in tech has posed a number of challenges, particularly during pivotal life moments such as starting a family. “There weren’t a lot of my peers or team members who were starting a family,” she shares. “I became very efficient with how I spent my time.”

Joanne’s journey has inspired her to advocate for other women in the tech industry. “When I encounter someone who is considering a job in this field, I tell them to jump in and to not be afraid to take a chance,” she says. “I have helped many newcomers to high tech make introductions with hiring managers.” And if anyone feels intimidated by a steep learning curve, Joanne can relate firsthand and encourage others with her history of resourcefulness and tenacity.

Finding work-life balance

Despite her demanding role, Joanne prioritizes work-life balance, carving out time for outdoor activities like walking her dogs and paddleboarding. “Being a Program Manager means that I am acutely aware of time,” she admits. “But getting out into nature every day seems to have a calming effect for me.”

With almost three decades at our company, Joanne’s story is a fantastic reminder of the talent, skill, resilience, and determination of women in the tech industry. As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re honored to spotlight Joanne as one of the women who makes Alludo shine. We’re proud to have an exceptional ratio of women working at Alludo compared to our peer organizations, particularly in leadership positions*. For us, every day is International Women’s Day—and we have people like Joanne to thank for that.

* We are extremely proud to report that we are above industry standard for the percentage of women in our workforce: Nearly one-third (31%) of our workforce is comprised of women, and we have a particularly strong—and rare—representation at the leadership level. Our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, and Chief Legal Officer are all women; our operations committee, which consists of our most senior leaders, includes a 32% representation of women; and 33% of our people managers are women, highlighting the efforts we make to ensure equal opportunities and empowerment across all levels of the organization.

At Alludo, we know that diversity drives outcomes. 

We know that having more perspectives to draw from fuels innovation. 

You don’t have to take our word for it.  

Companies with more than 30% women executives are 48% more likely to outperform companies with the least gender diversity, according to McKinsey research. 

And yet, women are still underrepresented in a wide range of industries—especially women in tech and other STEM-related fields.  

When women don’t have a seat at the table, the company’s leaving a lot on the table. 

Women’s History Month seems like a good time to point out that we’re pretty darn proud of our table at Alludo: 

  • Our CEOis a woman.  
  • Our SVP of Engineering is a woman. 
  • 43% of our Executive Leadership Team identify as women. 
  • 34% of our people managers are women. 
  • 33% of our employees are women. 
  • 9 women have titles of VP or higher. 
  • 21% of technical positions are held by women. 

To put those stats in perspective, fact-checked 2022 research from Zippia found that women hold fewer than 20%of leadership roles in the tech industry overall. Overall STEM stats are skewed by the exceptionally high level of women in health-related fields (more than 70%). The story is very different in technology. The tech industry has a long way to go, and while we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, we know there is still room to grow—and room for us to serve as a leader in elevation of women in tech. 

Is the industry improving? 

In a word (okay, two words): not really. Women dominated computer and technology-related fields during World War II as their male counterparts were sent to the front lines. In 1960, they held onto more than 25% of programming jobs (just one of many tech roles), according to the New York Times. To be fair, it wasn’t considered “high-status work,” and women were rarely promoted into leadership. Still, women weren’t rare in tech and weren’t discouraged from pursuing it. 

Zippia reports that 40 years ago, women held 35% of tech roles. That number had dropped by 2018. Not the direction we want to be going in. Part of the problem is that, even if women enter the tech industry, many of them don’t feel comfortable sticking around. Half of all womenin tech drop out by age 35, compared with only 20% in other fields. Women leave tech jobs at a rate 45% higher than men. At 37%, “company culture” is the largest contributor.  

Looking up 

It’s easy to be doom-and-gloom about the representation, experience, and tenure of women in tech. But this Women’s History Month we have a lot of reason to be optimistic. There is a ton of momentum around getting girls interested in STEM, like the National Girls Collaborative Project, Carnegie STEM Girls, the Girls STEM Academy at the Space Center in Houston, Million Women Mentors, and many more. 

There are also companies like ours, where women are heavily represented all the way to top. We already shared some highlights, but we’re celebrating this Women’s History Month, and we can’t help sharing more. We’re a global organization, so here’s a look at our stats by country: 


  • Women People Managers: 44%  
  • Women employees: 42%  


  • Women People Managers: 46%  
  • Women employees: 42%  


  • Women People Managers: 44%  
  • Women employees: 49%  

We’re not only optimistic, but we feel an obligation—make that an honor—to lead the way, and do so vocally. We’re genuinely excited about where we’re going and the people and organizations we can inspire along the way. It takes all of us. 

Throughout this Women’s History Month, we’ll be sharing more content to celebrate the women of Alludo and all the women who inspire us. We’re glad you’re part of it. 

A look at her career in parallel with Parallels

Quite literally no one has more experience with Parallels than Elena Koryakina. She was there from the very beginning, as a pioneer in virtualization and a woman in tech, while still a graduate student at Bauman Moscow State Technical University. She was the first person to run Windows solutions in the virtualization engine that was the foundation of what is today Parallels Desktop, which means that every employee and every customer since then are walking in her footsteps.

Over more than two decades, Elena rose through the ranks as a woman in tech in roles such including software engineer to senior vice president of Engineering, leading the research and development team at Parallels under the Alludo umbrella. Along the way, she served as a technical advisor, unit manager, project manager, director of cloud infrastructure, and vice president of engineering.

“It’s very important to note that it has been a long career path,” says Elena. Even before officially joining Parallels, Elena worked as a software developer at the Moscow Central Depository in the late 1990s. Elena is at once humble about her achievements (she holds multiple patents based on her work) and extremely practical. She feels strongly that others looking to emulate her success understand that it comes as a result of two elements: constant curiosity, and constant investment in your education and profession.

Celebrating women in tech

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, it’s critical to address an obvious point: Elena is a pioneer in tech by any demographic standards, and the fact that she’s a woman who played such a central, early role in modern tech is even more exceptional. Still, Elena insists that her gender isn’t as much of a factor as people might make it out to be. “Maybe I was lucky, but my professors didn’t treat men and women any differently,” she says. “While my university was mostly men, there were lots of talented women too, and I’ve been surrounded by talented women for my whole career. I believe that we shouldn’t think about whether you’re a woman or a man, but whether you love your work, and what ideas you bring to the table.” She’s inspired by people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and interests.

Sources of inspiration

One source of inspiration has been her grandmother, who played a significant role in Elena’s childhood. Her grandmother wanted Elena to become a doctor, which seemed like a great fit because Elena was always interested in physics, math, and biology. She initially planned to pursue education in biological medicine and technology, but fellow students noticed her talents and encouraged her to focus on IT. “It was a group of men, actually,” Elena says. “They said, ‘Come with us, we’re IT technologists, and it’s really interesting.’” Elena shifted courses and immersed herself in mathematical modeling, and had the chance to build software tools to perform that modeling. She loved it. And she’s grateful to those students, who truly saw her for her ability.

As for her grandmother, Elena says she was extremely proud of her after Elena shifted away from biological medicine. As it turns out, her grandmother only wanted Elena to become a doctor because she wanted Elena to be useful to people. “A doctor obviously helps people,” Elena says, “But we do, too. I’m absolutely sure that my profession and the products we provide for our customers make peoples’ lives better and their work easier. We simplify life for them and allow them to work from anywhere. What we do is so similar to the goals my grandmother set for me.”

Managing priorities

In addition to staying curious and continuing to invest in your education and yourself (Elena pursued an advanced, fast-track course at the Harvard Business School on Leading with Impact in 2014.) , she also advises other women in tech to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. “There are only 24 hours in a day,” she says. “And your prioritization should be flexible and change throughout your life.” When Elena was a student, she would go to school all day and when she completed her labs she would go to work on what would become Parallels, and put in a 10-12 hour shift—working very late into the night before starting everything again the next day. She thrived on that demanding schedule, because it worked for her at that time. School and work were her only priorities.

After she became a mother, Elena shifted her priorities. They’re now “My son, and virtualization.” Elena notes that pregnancy is, in itself, a virtualization project. And shifting priorities doesn’t need to happen only if one chooses motherhood, Elena points out. “It could be travel or anything else that is important to you. Pursue what you love. Continue your dreams.”