Recently, I was invited on behalf of Women in Tech DK and Queue-it to talk at Improve Digital's Pop-Up event in Copenhagen "Women's Leadership Networking Breakfast". Improve Digital is behind Inspiring Fifty, a non-profit organization that showcases female role models in European tech. The aim of the event was to bring together women from the media and tech sector in Copenhagen to network and discuss how to encourage more women to aspire to and build a successful career path in technology. Maybe you have heard of the event before? Improve Digital hosts them from time to time around Europe.
I strongly believe that the world needs more females in the tech industry, and events like this are very important to continue to focus on the gender issue in the industry and also the lack of IT professionals in general. A recent report made for the European Commission by DI Digital clearly shows a lack of IT professionals with a higher education throughout Europe who develop digital solutions. It revealed that both hardware and software developers, architects, and specialists within Big Data are in high demand, but difficult to find. This is a problem because of the massively increasing impact of technology that is requiring Europe to step up to the plate to compete with the US and Asia. This means that now, more than ever, we need to need to encourage young women to pursue a career within technology.
At the Women's Leadership Networking Breakfast event, I talked briefly about creating a more balanced tech startup scene and about working in the tech industry in general. It is important that we specifically focus on women, who might tend to hold back, and inspire and educate them about technology oriented careers and what it is like to be working in the industry and also to be a tech entrepreneur. Technology is indeed a possible and attractive career for females. Technology can be fun, creative, business-oriented, and challenging. Women who are thinking about entrepreneurship tend to underestimate their own ideas, and that's just sad. This means that we miss out on so many exciting new business ideas that otherwise could have great potential. Furthermore, females entrepreneurs usually prefer to possess all the necessary skills and have everything under control before they even start - I call this "the checklist syndrome". But if you want to become an entrepreneur, this is not the way forward. You need to jump in and get started, preferably within a professional field that you are already familiar with.
Co-founders of Improve Digital, Joelle Frijters and Janneke Niessen, also spoke at the event about Inspiring Fifty. They recently published a blog on Improve Digital's view and figures on diversity that I can recommend you read: "Diversity Matters". It also goes into detail about why they launched the Inspiring Fifty initiative.
Inspiring Fifty has also published a fictional novel, Project Prep, to reach out to young girls (aged 10-14) to highlight how rewarding and exciting a career path in technology can be. It has been published in the Netherlands, and they are rolling it out in other countries/languages this year. The classic problem that they found is that young girls say they are not interested in working in tech, but when they ask them if they want to work for Instagram, then it's a clear yes! So, it seems like we need to inspire and educate them on the possibilities open to them. In the future, all companies will in fact be tech companies, so it is important to encourage young females to be interested and get involved in tech now.