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Lea Verou: a CSS Expert Crushing Stereotypes


By Goran Bogunovic, January 31, 2017

Are you up for an instant inspiration? This story will motivate you to finally pursue your ambitions, become more proactive, stop procrastinating, and say no to the usual excuses. It comes to us from a curious girl who once saw creative potential in everything that surrounded her and so she enjoyed making purses out of kitchen sponges or little books and pillows. She was always more interested in making stuff than using something already made: it was a challenge to craft something new with the limited set of tools and materials. When she was ten, she had her first encounter with a computer and the idea of programming combined with graphics became appealing to her.

By nurturing imagination and creativity from her earliest age, she recognized her love for coding and found her true calling. She grew up to become one of the most successful women in the tech industry. Meet Lea Verou, a computer scientist from Greece, who is also a front-end developer, web standards geek, web designer, and author.

Lea Verou gitls women in IT

From Advanced CSS and Graphic Design to MIT

Lea Verou is an Invited Expert (there are only 7 of them worldwide) within the W3C CSS Working Group, a committee responsible for designing the CSS language.  In June 2015, Verou released a book guide called “CSS Secrets: Better Solutions to Everyday Web Design Problems”. The book contains 47 undocumented techniques targeted at intermediate and advanced CSS developers. Verou’s idea was to provide innovative solutions to common web design problems and so a wide range of topics is covered: from borders and backgrounds, visual effects, to typography, layouts, and animations.

Lea Verou is an Invited Expert (there are only 7 of them worldwide) within the W3C CSS Working Group, a committee responsible for designing the CSS language.

 

She is also currently pursuing a P.h.D at MIT with a focus on human-computer interactions, specifically end-user programming for making web applications. She can boast with several projects:

  • Dabblet: open-source web application for rapid prototyping (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) with syntax highlighting and inline previewers
  • -prefix-free: a polyfill that helps current browsers recognize the unprefixed versions of several CSS3 properties
  • Prism: a lightweight syntax highlighting library
  • The CSS3 Test: testsuite for the most stable CSS3 modules

In addition to this, she advocates the use of effective web standards in order to enable optimal functioning of websites and possibly make them usable in older browsers too. As Verou said herself, when it comes to CSS – she’s a big dreamer.

Lea Verou dabblet

Building a Personal Brand

If you take a look at Lea Verou’s personal website registered with .ME domain, lea.verou.me, you’ll see that she took the most of building her online presence. A visitor encounters a clearly structured website with categories (e.g. “home”, “projects”, “interviews”, “about me”) from which you can find out more about her personal accomplishments but also discover interesting insights and fresh ideas regarding CSS and design.

Her website is actually an inspiring open book of her professional path (including her CV in pdf), and the best base of information regarding her career. It also has a portfolio of her projects while the whole website stands as a proof of the quality of her work and the sense of aesthetics: using CSS3 gradients, she designed peachy stripes on the one side while leaving the other one white.

What makes Lea Verou stand out from the crowd is her ability to think outside of the box, come up with creative solutions, and of course – her willingness to share her knowledge. She has given over 60 talks worldwide and released several open source projects. By gathering all this information in one place – her own .me website, she gained better control of her reputation on the market. She managed to build her personal brand and with her hard work – she has been recognized as a person of great credibility and even got a status of a celebrity (although she doesn’t think anyone from the industry deserves that title).

Lea Verou personal website

 

Being a Recognized Woman Expert in Tech

Before choosing to pursue her career, Lea Verou admitted she wasn’t familiar with the sexism in the tech industry. Being confident and self-assured by nature, she never felt as a victim or being exposed to any different treatment just because she’s a woman. Luckily, her environment was supporting and so she made sure to share her positive experience and show women can truly have it differently working in tech niche. With numerous negative stories regarding gender inequality overwhelming us daily, Lea Verou believes it’s crucial that more positive ones get out there. Women tend to feel unwelcome in these work environments and by feeding on negative stories – they only get further discouraged but the story doesn’t end here.

In addition to discrimination in the workplace, there is another important thing Verou thinks we should fight against: gender stereotypes, especially those internalized. Initiating a dialogue about it is helpful but we should start from the very beginning: diagnosing the problem in the society and treating it effectively. As Verou said, there is no such thing as “extreme equality” and we can see little girls are being treated differently than boys from the earliest childhood days. Boy toys are typically designed to initiate cognitive development while girl toys aren’t. This way we are programming future generations of women who already have a subtle feeling of inferiority implemented into their subconsciousness.


Lea Verou
Equality can never be extreme and I doubt anybody would even say anything like that for other kinds of discrimination, like racism. It’s “reverse discrimination” or “corrective bias” that’s extreme and I’m strongly against that.Lea Verou

In addition to discrimination in the workplace, there is another important thing Verou thinks we should fight against: gender stereotypes, especially those internalized. Initiating a dialogue about it is helpful but we should start from the very beginning: diagnosing the problem in the society and treating it effectively. As Verou said, there is no such thing as “extreme equality” and we can see little girls are being treated differently than boys from the earliest childhood days. Boy toys are typically designed to initiate cognitive development while girl toys aren’t. This way we are programming future generations of women who already have a subtle feeling of inferiority implemented into their subconsciousness.

One can really learn a few things from Lea Verou: from how to be assertive and confident to how to stay curious and creative and always find a way to bring back something to the community. She is a versatile business woman, an amazing CSS expert, someone who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and is constantly working on herself with a true thirst for knowledge.

If you too are interested in building your presence online, you can take the first baby steps with getting familiar with the way WordPress themes function and register your own .ME domain in order to personalize your blog or business, and potentially launch your career. Everyone has a certain talent that can be shared with the world: being present online makes you more visible to a broader audience and therefore it enables more effective networking.

 


Author:

Goran Bogunovic

Now, you're probably wondering how I got here! Running a marketing agency, educating people about branding, and helping you to develop your own presence online. To understand, you’ll need to follow me @Domain.Me

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