The career opportunities in the tech industry are diverse and we can finally say goodbye to the “clichéd nerd” image. Nonetheless, women are still underrepresented in IT. How do we inspire young talents for the diverse career opportunities in tech? On the occasion of Girls’ Day, we spoke to Kiki Radicke, Head of People & Culture at Adacor, about working and career opportunities in the tech industry, and how IT companies can succeed in inspiring more girls and women to enter tech.
Many people still see the IT industry as a male domain. The notion of clichéd nerds is also what still enters a lot of people’s heads. Yet the tech industry in particular offers a wide variety of jobs and career prospects and has always been a driver of New Work factors. What does it really look like in IT? What makes the tech industry so special?
Kiki Radicke: It’s true that the IT industry is often still perceived as a male domain. But my impression is that this has started to change in recent years. Even if the number of women in IT is growing too slowly, there are more and more women in the industry and a growing awareness of diversity and inclusion.
Efforts to attract more women to IT have steadily increased in the past few years. There is a better understanding of what requirements employees bring to the table, and part-time offers and compatibility measures are part of standard practice in many workplaces.
With regard to the “nerd image”, it is important to emphasize that the IT industry is very diverse and encompasses very different areas of expertise and responsibilities. In addition to administrators and developers, there are roles in project management, data analysis, design, and many others, which means that there are multiple different profiles. Those who work in IT are in a position to implement ideas in technical concepts, to digitalise processes, to detect the potential that technologies and software can offer, and to further develop digital business models. These are all factors that require communication, strategic thinking, teamwork and openness to new things. In other words, much more than what the classic “nerd” can bring to the table ;-).
The projects that are worked on are often very innovative. That’s what makes the work so exciting and gives those who choose to enter this industry great career opportunities. I would say that, in essence, an IT work approach is very dynamic and agile; only in this way can you react quickly to changes so that innovative products and solutions can be created. This also includes working approaches which involve flat hierarchies, flexible working hours and remote working, not to mention lifelong learning and a collaborative working environment.
The annual Girls + Boys Day took place once again on 27 April this year, with its aim being to strengthen a stereotype-free career orientation for boys and girls. From your perspective as Head of HR: How can we make this happen and what can IT companies do to get more girls interested in IT and technology?
Radicke: It is still the case that traditional role models often mean that girls are less likely than boys to choose IT professions. Unfortunately, the focus on STEM subjects is also not strong enough in schools. Most young people are not even aware of the diversity of careers in IT and therefore lack information about IT jobs.
Essentially, I believe that schools need to place greater emphasis on media skills and IT topics. Programming and the use of digital tools should be part of everyday school life, so that entry into the IT industry becomes far more accessible.
As an IT company, we open our doors on Girls’ Day and provide information about the careers of IT specialist application development and IT specialist system integration. We offer training on a part-time basis and always grant internships. With our MediaMonster initiative, for many years now we have been carrying out media literacy projects with schoolchildren, as well as training educators for more digital education, and enlightening parents about the digital realities of their children’s lives.
I’m a big fan of partnerships with universities and schools; these connect business with education and give students the opportunity to gain direct insights into fields of work and to try things out. That’s how talents are discovered.
Role models are another important aspect when it comes to getting girls enthused about IT professions. Seeing what women can achieve and what a career in IT can look like may give them the impetus to want to follow this path as well.
If there are also promotional programmes that specifically support girls and accompany them in their career planning, that will make for a well-rounded package.
What is your career tip for women?
Radicke: Start building up a network right at the beginning of your career and regularly go to events and exchange ideas. And of course: step forward much more bravely and boldly with your expertise!
Thank you very much for this interview!