Women in IT - an interview with Eva
Series: Women in IT
“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show.”
This quote comes from Ada Lovelace, one of the first programmers ever. And she was right, because her ideas were extraordinary. Today, Lovelace is regarded as one of the intellectual founders of information technology. She was one of the women who helped make IT what it is today. Like Grace Hopper, who worked with the world's first fully automated computer, coined the term "bug" and invented the compiler.
But what about women in IT today? The fact is, they are missing from the industry. Only seven percent of people in IT apprenticeships are female. 80-90 per cent of all applications to job advertisements do not come from women. A similar picture emerges in the management floors and in start-ups.
We sat down with Eva today to ask her very personal opinion on the subject.
Hi Eva, thanks for taking the time!
You are our first programmer in the team. Of course we are extremely happy about that! But how do you feel about it? Is it something special for you to work as a woman in the IT sector?
Since I had a desire for programming and the professional field, it's nothing special for me. It is my everyday life, I don't think so much about the fact that I am the only woman in development at wunschlösung. That's a good sign because it means there are no hurdles. But it is certainly unusual for the entire professional field.
Only a quarter of computer science students are female. You also studied something else at first and then came to computer science via a lateral entry. Do you have the feeling that this diversions made it easier for you?
Into the professional world? Well, yes. In my field of study (applied linguistics and German as a foreign language) I also had to deal with large amounts of data. So it made sense to learn programming. That's how I started with Python. In this particular field, there are more women than men, which was a great help for me. But even there, the women who really wanted to do it were quite rare. And the deeper I get into tech topics, the fewer women I meet. I think studying is better because you are actively encouraged.
Were you specifically encouraged in your desire to go into IT?
I had to make an effort myself to further deepen the knowledge I had accumulated. But there were special offers for non-male persons, I noticed that. I thought that was a cool way to get started. They were open courses that you had to take the initiative to attend. I took advantage of beginner-friendly courses for Java ("Java for female students"). Everything else were general courses for beginners in studies.
In the future, I would like to look at things specifically in this direction, for example meetups by and with female programmers. The community is large and will certainly continue to grow.
In general, I've only had good experiences on my journey into IT. No obstacles were ever put in my way. At no point did I feel that it made a difference whether I was a woman or not, and I always felt that I was treated relatively equally - both at university and now at wunschlösung.
Since the beginning (2011) of the Europe-wide comparison of women in IT positions, the proportion of German female programmers has never been higher than it currently is (17.4 per cent). Meanwhile, many companies are struggling more and more to find female programmers. How do you explain this mental turnaround?
Good question. I think diverse teams have a better all-round performance. Different skills can be covered better that way. Diversified teams are actually always good. Also, the demand is just very high for new programmers in general.
Only nine percent of managers in the software industry are female. Yet studies have shown that 87 percent of men consider women to be just as suitable for IT jobs. So if it's not aptitude, where do you think it's made difficult for women to succeed in IT?
I don't think I have the experience to judge that. Personally, my path was not made more difficult. But I can imagine that the compatibility of family and career is still a big issue. And if there are few female applicants, there are also fewer women in employment. The problem starts at school, where girls are often not shown so clearly that they could be good at computer science.
Where do you personally see opportunities that are not yet sufficiently used to support women more in IT? Both here and in general.
I think the way the wunschlösung does it is already good. It needs to be addressed, not hushed up. It's not enough to say "we're open to everyone". Companies have to show concretely that they are interested in the topic - for example, through blogposts that talk about women in IT.
One should create awareness that structures strongly shaped by men are not very inviting for most women. People are afraid that stupid comments will be made or that they won't fit into a team because the structures are already entrenched. It is therefore important to signal openness, for example for topics such as family and alternative life models, and to offer support.
What do you want for the future? Do you have any concrete ideas for change?
Phew. What I would like to see is that more women are encouraged to take a step into IT - early on and even if they don't (yet) think of themselves as being good at it. Barriers must be removed that make access difficult, both organisationally and in terms of content. That starts early - already at school.
For me, it was the right step. I am very happy to have gone into IT and can imagine that other women feel the same way. Even winding paths can lead to a goal. I would like to see this joy for others as well.
Thank you, Eva!
More of this series: Women in IT
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