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Women in Tech | Germany’s Industry Leaders

It may not come to a surprise to you to hear that there are generally more males that work in the tech industry in comparison to women – but why? We speak to some of Germany’s most inspirational women in tech who have grown to become directors, managers and industry leaders. In this article we ask them about their role models, what it’s like to be a woman working in technology and any advice they have for women considering a career in tech.

 

1. What is it like to be a woman working in technology for you? 

 

Women in tech, women working, writing

 

“It's primarily fun. Fun to learn about the new tech, to observe and support people in their careers. From a purely female perspective - I love that tech is becoming more and more diverse and that I, thanks to my job, can contribute to that.”

Dr. Karolina Kettler, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Asana Rebel

 

“A woman working in technology is pretty much a woman or a man working anywhere else - it just depends on what you make our of it. You create your own environment, you find those who would like to share it with you and you move forward, and in my case - lead. Never alone, always with a strong team and with strong leaders.”

Anna Derinova-Hartmann, Head of Charter Tech Business

 

“To be honest I don't even really notice anymore that I am working in a men environment - I am just used to it. Sometimes people that I do not know ask me why I studied engineering, implying it was not an obvious choice, but usually working in the tech world just feels very natural.”

Nina Buffi, Managing Director at Ospin

 

“Everyone knows that the tech world is a man’s world. Even though there were significant efforts over the past few years to bring more women in tech, still the percentage is low. At the beginning of my career, I was often the only tech woman in the company or the only woman in meetings with customers and partners. That can make one feel out-of-place but I didn’t want to be intimidated by it. Unfortunately, as a woman in tech you are sometimes affected by unconscious biases that can happen even when people are well-intentioned. Quite often, a woman has to work twice as hard and be twice as knowledgeable as a man in order to be recognized the same. This means that a lot of women are pushed away and give up their careers, which in turn reinforces the stereotypes. We all need to fight against this. There are also positive aspects of being a woman in tech. You often bring a new perspective to the team and good teams recognize and appreciate diversity of thoughts.”

Monica Sarbu, Director of Engineering, Ingest team at Elastic

 

“It is simply great. I have an interesting and very diversified job and really nice colleagues. I don't think that it makes a difference that I'm female. The only funny thing that I noticed since I work as IT-Security consultant are the reactions when I tell people who are not into technology what I'm doing.There are 2 options. Option 1 is, that they have no idea what I really do and stop asking questions, maybe because they are afraid that they won't understand the answer and option 2 is, that look at me as if I'm a magician and then ask me to fix their devices :D” 

Nina Fasel, Security Consultant at Vindler

 

"I love working in technology because I am enabled to quickly create things … out of nothing. My ideas can become a reality within minutes and it doesn’t require any financial commitment from my side. I’ve learned to use all the resources available online to widen my knowledge and discover new ways of doing things. There is no end to the surprises! I love introducing technology to people (sometimes teaching them how to use tools as simple as a project management platform) and uncovering what I call “a Matrix stereotype” - the idea that technology is outside of our reach and we shouldn’t even try to touch it because we can break it. The fact that I’m a women is very helpful because I can more easily reach other women and representatives of minorities willing to embark on their adventure in tech or maybe improve their current situation - it’s easier for us to relate to our experiences and find a common ground. I can also show them that “you have to work twice as hard to make it” doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy the ride. It’s all about finding the right place and the right people who will make you love the work."

Anna Mikulinska, VP of Technology at Enterroom

 

"I never really thought much of it. In the university the lack of women was noticeably and it remains the same in a professional environment. It is very common for me to be the only women in meetings with upper management. The lack of diversity in decision making positions has a direct impact on promotion systems, hiring processes, employer branding and the industry as a whole. Unconscious bias is an obstacle; it is not a conscious effort to keep women from working in tech. However, this is the reality which we must face in order to think about solving it."

María Robledo, VP of Engineering at SoundCloud

 

 

 

What advice would you give to a woman considering technology as her career?

 

Woman on the phone, phonecall

 

“Do not be afraid - speak up, ask questions or disagree if necessary. Tech has been for far too long too homogenous, it needs your perspective. Network and support others - community is the power."

Dr. Karolina Kettler, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Asana Rebel

 

“To never look back, never second-guess herself, never question her steps. Move ahead, try, make mistake and learn, regardless of your gender!”

Anna Derinova-Hartmann, Head of Charter Tech Business

 

“Technology has the power to change the world, just go for it! Also, if you study engineering and afterwards your realize you want to be a journalist, you can still do it, while the opposite is way harder. In this sense it is never a bad idea ;-)”

Nina Buffi, Managing Director at Ospin

 

“A career in tech can bring you a lot of satisfaction. Software is changing the world and it’s up to us to make sure it’s changing it for the better. The tech landscape is always changing, and that means you won’t ever get bored. You will have the chance to work with different kinds of people, most of them being smart and nice, but sometimes you can also meet unkind people. Try not to let them define your career. If you find yourself in a toxic environment that you don’t have the power to influence, find another company. It sometimes takes courage to change jobs, but it usually pays off. It’s important to know that you are not alone and my advice would be to find a mentor, preferably a woman, to support you through the hard times.”

Monica Sarbu, Director of Engineering, Ingest team at Elastic

 

“Just do it and don't let anyone tell you that you can't make it. Luckily nowadays there are a lot of possibilities and events for girls to get involved in tech and a lot of companies do support diversity.”

Nina Fasel, Security Consultant at Vindler

 

"Don’t follow the money. Not as the only reason to enter this market, there are many other disciplines where in time you can make a good living without all the hustle and constant need for keeping up with the changes in the industry. If you are thinking about having a child anytime soon it can also be very stressful for you to come back to work - many companies still don’t have good procedures for mothers to come back to work without a lot of stress (look at the statistics of drop-off among women in tech - many decide to leave after having a baby). Secondly, remember that technology isn’t only built by programmers. This is the newest fade - everyone should become a programmer. What a shame! Yes, learn technology, learn basics of various areas in tech but don’t decide too quickly. Maybe becoming a project manager or a product manager is what you’ll be great at? Or maybe you should be a data scientist? That’s also super exciting. Try to find your own unique way and don’t follow the trend because those tend to change very quickly."

Anna Mikulinska, VP of Technology at Enterroom

 

"My first bit of advice is to do it!!! It’s not easy and one needs to put in a lot of effort. But it’s rewarding. Don’t stop until you find a place that matches best with your real-life needs and aspirations and then put your heart and passion into it, and learn, as that will be the only way to succeed. My second piece of advice is to surround yourself with good, intelligent people who add value to what you do. Choose people you can trust and welcome their different points of view. Learn from them and let them learn from you. My third recommendation is don’t be afraid of failure. Embrace it and learn from it. My final bit of advice is to have fun!"

María Robledo, VP of Engineering at SoundCloud

 

 

 

Who are your role models for women in tech? 

 

Speaking, group, brainstorm

 

“As the role models I would like to mention my personal connections, woman, who I observed growing and doing a great job. One is @Kathrin Holweger - Engineering Manager at Asana Rebel, who combines perfectly her people skills with tech expertise. The other one is @Dominique Plummeridge, who had the courage to change her career path 180 and dive into tech and now her career is skyrocketing.”

Dr. Karolina Kettler, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Asana Rebel

 

“Any woman in tech is a role model. The tech field has been so artificially and for so long been a "boys club" that now very few women believe they can join it. Guess what: there is no club, there is no difference between girls and boys in the tech sandpit. What matters is your ideas, strength, decisions you take and how much you learn”

Anna Derinova-Hartmann, Head of Charter Tech Business

 

“My role model is a very successful architect who once wished me much luck, implying that working hard is a prerequisite for success but that luck also plays a role.”

Nina Buffi, Managing Director at Ospin

 

“I personally don’t have specific role models, but I am inspired by so many women in tech that I met, no matter what position they have, from a single mother that succeeded to raise alone 3 kids while being a full-time programmer to a successful C-level executive with kids at home.”

Monica Sarbu, Director of Engineering, Ingest team at Elastic

 

“This is hard to say for me, since I struggle a little with role models, I always wanted to be me and not like anyone else. But I really like Ada Lovelace who was an English mathematician and writer and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by an Analytical Engine. Therefore she is often cited as the first computer programmer. Considering the time she lived in, she must have been one hell of a smart woman who followed her interests. That is definitely admirable.”

Nina Fasel, Security Consultant at Vindler

 

"I’m inspired by many women, the more I work and travel the more of them I meet. That’s why now I’m writing a book about them! And what we can learn from women in tech leadership (management and thought leadership). On the top of my mind are always two women definitely worth recommending - Stacia Carr, Director of Engineering at Zalando and Anne Kjaer Riechert, CEO and cofounder of ReDI School of digital integration - I love their work and approach to technology. Stacia is an inspiration as a manager respecting boundaries of her team members, creating space for them to grow and experiment (and safely fail, that too!). Anne on the other hand shows us how beautifully we can create opportunities and change lives by sharing what we take for granted - our knowledge and understanding of the basics of technology. Her School truly creates ground for integration and I’m very excited for this project."

 

Anna Mikulinska, VP of Technology at Enterroom

 

 

My role models, not only in STEM, are women that are not afraid of taking risks and starting new projects. They’re strong, independent, and proactive, with their own opinions and an excellent sense of humor. I always find it inspiring to see the world through their eyes. I have to say, I don’t really have anyone that I’d really consider a “role model” in STEM. I’m not saying that they do not exist, just that I don’t hear or know them. We need to be more numerous and speak up more often.

 

María Robledo, VP of Engineering at SoundCloud

 

 

 

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