The number of women that choose technical schools is increasing. Already 37 percent of students in polytechnics are girls. Already, employers complain of insufficient number of qualified professionals, but the situation can be mitigated by the increase in women’s employment in the IT sector. Women can be not only better, but also more sought after by employers, precisely because of their feminine qualities.
A while ago I read an interesting interview about situation in IT. You can find a part of it below.
Working in IT is a coincidence or a deliberate decision? Tell us about the beginnings of your career.
Anna Jędrzejewska: I knew that I would study some exact sciences, because learning these subjects at school have given me a great pleasure. The fact that I have chosen computer science, was caused more by curiosity and the need to undertake a challenge. At last I was motivated by my colleague, that has started this study earlier.
I studied in early nineties and the computer science that we know today, just has started to form. It was the time when computers have begun to go out from data centers, universities and slowly become a mass product.
The first Windows and a web browser have appeared on the market and Internet began to grow. E-mail became a new way of communication. A lot has happened. For me, a symbol of transformation was the view of a calculating machine ODRA stored in the hallway university that was replaced with modern servers. Many women were studynig with me. It was 10% of a whole group at the beginning and 30% when we were finishing the studies. I do not recall that we were treated in a special way (both in positive and negative sense) by colleagues or by lecturers.
I have taken my first full-time job in one of the largest Polish engineering design offices, where they were used very sophisticated and complex computer systems, but also created their own programs to support and design engineering calculations. I joined a team of experienced developers who still remembered the times of great computing machines, punch cards and tape.
I think that the experience and knowledge that I met there, estabilished my current look at IT and learned the universal principles (eg. the need to optimize program code for testing approach, principles and implementation of information systems to understand business needs).
I was a programmer, but also I was responsible for the administration of Oracle databases and core system design, for that time I was the only woman in Poland who dealt with it. I had the opportunity also to participate for the first time in international projects. My next job was managing the SAP system ie. BASIS. This is the area where I work until today.
What individual characteristics should have a woman working in IT?
Anna Jędrzejewska: Information technology requires certain predispositions and let's get this straight - not everyone has them. However, it is very rewarding profession that can be recommended to everyone (and every woman!) It is enough to likes challenges, solve puzzles and have a passion of discovering, thinking and analyzing.
I think that the individual characteristic needed in IT is the ability of logical, analytical thinking, predicting consequences of actions, imagination, desire to constantly deepen their knowledge and ability to learn quickly.
Some characteristics attributable to women much help in this industry and they are the reason why women are so sought after in IT. Women are more precise, they pay attention to details that men can miss. Their attention is more divided, they avoid to take the risk and have a more practical approach. Women are more communicative, have a greater ability to work in a team and are more focused on cooperation than competition. With empathy they can better communicate with customers or co-workers, even if they are large individuals. Of course, you have to be ambitious, ready for hard work, but worth it to take such a challenge, because this profession gives great satisfaction.
An ambitious woman who has a scientific mind may very well find herself in this profession, while still remaining a real female.
Why do you think there are so few women in the IT industry? Whether this is due to stereotypes, lack of courage, and maybe it is a matter of reaching out to women?
Anna Jędrzejewska: The problem of the small amount of women in IT is complex. Many global companies, and even countries have taken various measures to encourage women to IT jobs. I spent a few years in Sweden, taking part in projects for international corporations and had an opportunity to get to know local realities. Sweden is a very interesting example. The country has very good experience in implementing active labor market programs for women and very successful in this field. Sweden has the highest in Europe employment rate of women - more than 70%. At the same time it is one of the most technologically advanced countries and it spends on research and development annually approx. 3.5% of GDP and wants to increase this value to more than 4%. It would seem that the problem of the low number of women in IT should not take place. Of course in Sweden there are relatively more women information technology professionals than for example in Poland, but even so, this share is still small. In Sweden there is a very good atmosphere for the employment of women in IT, and still very hot discussed how to encourage them because they are still not enough.
I think that a small number of women in IT is not due to the unwillingness of employers (they already see the positives from the presence of women in teams) or organizational mechanisms (although in Poland, we still have a lot to do in this respect and often envied my Swedish colleagues, solutions available to them social), but rather the unwillingness of women themselves to work in this profession.
This occupation is considered more suitable for men. I think some influence on it is still functioning stereotype of science. This is someone who has the magical knowledge, difficult and impossible to understand for the ordinary man, living in an isolated world full of machines that you don't need and can not communicate with people. Such work does not look interesting for women who prefer to work with people. IT is still perceived as the domain of men, a man's world, in which a woman to exist must show enormous knowledge, ambition to break through and prove that she is equally as good. This approach begins to slowly change, but a certain stereotype of thinking among both men and women still lingering.
Anna Jędrzejewska: Certified SAP NetWeaver technology consultant with many years of experience gained during the implementation of projects in Poland and abroad, in large and complex SAP environments. SAP technology coach.
The whole interview you can find here.