International Women’s Day (IWD) began in 1911 when more than a million people came together in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to celebrate women and their social, economic, cultural and political achievements. Now, more than a century later, IWD is celebrated all over the world and serves as a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
This year’s theme for IWD was #BalanceforBetter, which goes perfectly hand-in-hand with the technology industry’s efforts to increase the number of women employed in tech-related jobs. Toolbox spoke with Svenja de Vos, our CTO, and several industry experts to get their insight on what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry and how other women can carve a space for themselves in technology.
Here’s what Svenja had to say,
“It’s vital to get more women into the tech industry, for two reasons. Firstly, diversity is important. A team comprised of people with different backgrounds and an even balance of genders is more representative of the clients and customers for who you are building products. Secondly, the tech sector is growing, and it needs more people. It’s a simple numbers game – if the tech industry only employs men, there simply won’t be enough skills and resources to keep pace with the growth.
I believe that if more women are to enter the tech sector, we need to start young, showing girls that tech can be fun. I started coding when I was about eight years old. My parents bought a computer and I was hooked. It was fun learning how it worked, creating something on a computer. There is so much scope for creativity in tech – more than people think.
Being a female CTO today still makes me a bit of a unicorn. And, despite my background and position, some still assume I don’t have technical knowledge. And the worst part is that I find myself getting used to these comments. But my team respects me because of my technical expertise, not simply because of my title or in spite of my gender, and this is always how it should be.
My advice to women keen to develop a career in tech is to just do it. Listen, learn and be the best version of yourself. Find the role that fits you best, and don’t feel obligated to work in a more stereotypical role that may not be the best one for you – after all, it’s person specific, not gender specific.
In the future everything is going to have tech elements, from fashion to charity to healthcare. Tech has gone mainstream, the typical ‘tech’ stereotype’ is a thing of the past, and now is the time to change perceptions while narrowing the skills gap.”
(See the full article on Toolbox.)