Why Women Belong in Tech: Insights from NBT's Female Trailblazers
Women in tech are a diverse, empowered and trailblazing force - and at NBT, we're proud to support their amazing contributions. We recently spoke to a few of our brilliant women who shared why they chose a career in the world of technology, their thoughts on why more gender diversity is needed in this industry, and their top advice for other women looking to enter the field. Read on for inspiration, practical tips and a glimpse into the experiences of female tech professionals!
Women in Tech: Breaking Barriers and Shaping the Future
Let's first take a look at the current statistics:
Women hold 28% of computing and mathematical jobs in the US as of 2022. In Germany it is even only 16.6%. By the way, Bulgaria is the frontrunner with a share of women of 30.3%.
If you take a look at the large tech companies, things look a bit better in terms of diversity: Women make up 34.4% of the workforce of the U.S.’s largest tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft).
The distribution of women within the STEM professions is also significant. While there are many female representatives in the scientific professions, the proportion decreases rapidly in computer and engineering. Only 15% of jobs in engineering are held by women.
Irene Sanchez Sole knows the feeling of loneliness that can result. “It’s hard to find peer students or colleagues with whom you feel accepted as you are and not seen just as a funny misplaced person who wants to play around,” she says. She has often experienced the "it's cool, but strange" reaction, where “society needs time to process that you don’t get excited by flowers, but by new good quality tools to crimp cables.” As a working student on NBT's hardware team, she doesn't have to explain herself. Nevertheless, she says, “If we could have more women in this path, it would be so much easier for us to make our way.”
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However, the exceptional role also makes you strong. Célia Rimpot is an Incubation Program Associate at NBT and has deciphered why women in tech are so strong and resilient. “Because they had to fight so many entry barriers, gender bias, and systemic discrimination, because they have been doubted so many times, women in tech are also able to overcome many more obstacles.”
Venture Development Director Dr. Corinna Sinzig also sees chances in her female leadership role:
“Being a female leader in a male-dominated industry often requires extra effort to prove oneself, but is an opportunity to challenge stereotypes.”
Why We Need More Women in Tech
Well, first of all we need more female leaders in general. The McKinsey-Report “Women in the Workplace 2022” points out that females don't just support their teams; they go the extra mile. They expertly manage workloads to ensure fairness and provide emotional and mental support to those who need it in times of life stress. Not only this, but they also take on the majority of diversity and inclusion activities in addition to their regular tasks.
In the tech industry, it goes beyond these skills. Priya Kinstler works as Quality Assurance Engineer at NBT. She sees diversity and inclusion are key to creating a thriving and innovative tech industry that benefits everyone.
“Your unique perspective and experiences can bring a fresh and valuable approach to problem-solving and innovation.”
She also points out that having more women in tech can help ensure that technology is inclusive and accessible to everyone. Her colleague Sai puts it even more drastically. “We need representation to solve the problems of 50% of the population and be role models for future generations.”
Célia is lucky to have those role models. One is her mother who built her own consultancy when Célia has been 10. The other one is the serial entrepreneur Gabrielle Chou in whose AI start-up she was able to work in New York. Those strong and driven women taught her a lot.
Why Women Choose to Work in Tech
For some women, the path was crystal clear. Irene was fascinated as a child by all the mechanical and electrical devices, and she often disassembled devices to have a glance inside to get to know how they worked. Soon her father taught her how to use some of his tools since he saw he was not going to be able to stop her from using them. “At some point I realized an engineering career, creating stuff and solving problems, could be the type of career which would make me happy.”
For Sai Addanki, too, the path to technology was preordained. The Senior Quality Assurance Engineer says, “I have always loved solving problems and am passionate about approaches to solve problems through tech.”
What is Their Advice for Women Thinking About Working in Tech?
Tech professions are certainly suitable for career changers. What helped Regina gain a foothold here:
“Appreciate the work of women in or outside of your industry, and share your appreciation with them.”
Katharina Schippl is a Software Engineer Working Student. Her encouraging advice is short and concise: “If you’re a woman looking to get into tech - DO IT! Take your time to understand things clearly and don’t hesitate to ask (even silly) questions.”
Priya warns against letting the challenges and biases of the industry discourage you. Instead, she suggests using them as fuel to continue pushing for greater equity in tech. The advice that Célia once received from her CEO goes in a similar direction and has always accompanied her:
"Believe in yourself, fight for what you think is right and never let people doubt you because of your gender"
Career Hacks: What Tech Professionals Recommend
Mentoring is a powerful lever to drive tech careers. Regina confirms this from her own experience. “It was so instrumental to get nurturing support and encouragement, getting space and chances to be bolder and get out of my comfort zone, give me more responsibilities, freedom for ideation and space to share my ideas, letting me make my mistakes and always striving for high standards.”
Sai compares building yourself up when you have a good mentor with going through a fast track lane. She even goes one step further and encourages women to be a mentor or an ally themselves.
“Learn about implicit gender bias and be conscious about how it can affect the decision making process. Then make an effort to address and change this bias.”
Another aspect of career hacks is networking. “Build a support system,” says Kristina Ritter. The investment manager at NBT points out how important it is to network and build relationships with others in the industry. “This is especially helpful for women who may feel isolated or underrepresented in the industry.”
But companies themselves are also called upon to do something, finds Van Trin. She works as Incubation Program Associate and suggests, “Encourage, create, nurture, and promote a work environment where women are offered flexibility to balance the demands of their career and personal/family life.”
Conclusion: Equity is More Important than Equality
When we want to create a more equitable industry where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, we need to increase the representation of women in tech.
Furthermore, technology is increasingly becoming a fundamental part of our daily lives, and it's important that the products and services we use are designed and developed by a diverse group of people who understand and represent the needs of all users.
Let’s go for a technology which is inclusive and accessible to everyone!