According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, only about 15 percent of the people working in this industry are women – not nearly enough, as far as we're concerned. But is there a particular reason why that's the case? How does it feel to work in this industry as a woman and how do you successfully transition into the world of tech? Frieda and Ingrid are pioneers in this field and agreed to answer some of those questions for us. For the male perspective, we also spoke to Richard, our CEO, who has many years of experience leading diverse teams.
What in particular interests you about tech and IT?
Frieda: I find technology fascinating and much of it strikes me as almost magical and has done so right from the start. I like the fact that it's logical and unambiguous. I studied sociology, politics and French literature. A lot of the time, that was about hermeneutical problems. In other words: how can I understand or interpret something. In technology, things are clearer: either the machine understands my code or returns an error. We are surrounded by technology. There is always something new to learn and the industry never stands still.
Ingrid: It's similar for me. I really enjoy creating new things. I'm very interested in programming and technology in general because it enables me to create whatever I want.
What is it like to work in a male-dominated industry?
Ingrid: It feels good to work in a male-dominated industry as a woman. It promotes the realization that diversity is always an advantage and can be a driving force. In some situations it can be challenging as well – being a pioneer means having to do pioneering work.
Why do you think the tech industry is male-dominated? Why are women just as suited for the work?
Frieda: It has to do with socialization and stereotypes. Women can think just as logically and are just as talented to work in tech as men are but they often struggle because they lack the self-confidence. It's all just a question of practice and passion for the topic. Sometimes talent isn't more than love of the topic and when women and girls discover that programming is fun, they will also start to get good at it. That requires encouragement and role models but thankfully there are more and more of both.
Richard: It might be worth considering the historical background as well: tech jobs traditionally evolved out of engineering and technical mechanics – two male-dominated professions. That shouldn't be a justification though. Good coders are creative and can adapt quickly to a new situation. That requires thorough knowledge of programming languages, structured problem-solving or the ability to build an IT-architecture. And that's something that women can do at least as well as men!
Ingrid: I agree. People who work in the tech industry know how to solve problems. Men can solve problems, women can, too – in a different way. Different perspectives in solving the same problems guarantees that the result will be successful, complete and integrative.
Why should more woman get into the business? What contribution could women in particular make?
Frieda: If products are designed exclusively by men, there is a risk that the non-male perspective will not be taken into account. There are many reasons why men are often considered the measure of things in this world when it comes to the development of medical and technological products. I think that involving women in the development of software contributes to taking new perspectives into account.
Richard: Exactly. Companies and teams require new ideas and approaches to continue to evolve. If everyone thinks along the same patterns, has the same hobbies or the same life experiences, there will be stagnation. Every leader should realize that innovation can only happen through diversity. We need diversity!
What advice would you like to give to girls that are interested in programming?
Ingrid: Women can program, too. It's definitely not "only for men" and it's a lot of fun. I grew up with the idea that certain jobs were for men and held on to that notion for a very long time. But at some point, I started to change my perspective and discovered that I can create space to realize myself. And that's what I did. I started to teach myself programming. Then I also took courses in web development. Just do it!
Frieda: Exactly, just try it and don't let anyone tell you that it's not something for girls. Anyone - female or male - can learn something in that field. For me, the process was similar to what Ingrid described. I also studied online and with the help of a program called FrauenLoop ("women's loop"). The goal of FrauenLoop is to make the tech industry more diverse.
Richard: I would like to add that every woman should find her own path, regardless of gender-stereotypes. Even if the industry is male-dominated, women should show what they can do. Good people are hard to find, especially when it comes to coding. And having a Y-chromosome is not a prerequisite.
Ingrid do Rio Schulze | Junior Frontend Engineer
Friederike Land | Junior Backend Engineer
Richard Renner | CEO