eco Association: “The girls of today are the digital leaders of tomorrow”

  • Girls’ Day on 28.03.2019: Internet industry offers very good career chances for women
  • Proportion of female students in IT subjects growing slowly but steadily

Female specialists are missing in the Internet industry: “For positions for programmers or IT experts, as a rule, only about 10 to 20 percent of applications are women,” says Lucia Falkenberg, Chief People Officer (CPO) of eco – Association of the Internet Industry and Leader of the eco Competence Group New Work. Although the number of female students in Computer Science has risen slightly, it still cannot cover the strong needs in the sector. “To change that, we need considerably more female talent who will start their career in the Internet industry today, and will become the Digital Ladies of tomorrow, to act as role models,” Falkenberg continues.

Female role models are rare

Whether we’re talking about large international tech corporations, or small and medium-sized software developers: Female staff are in the minority in IT companies. According to Statista, in 2017 Apple employed 23 percent, Google 20 percent, and Amazon and Facebook 19 percent. Despite this, there are certainly female leaders in the tech industry who could function as role models, as Uschi Vranken, CEO and founder of the IPA Institut für Personalentwicklung und Arbeitsorganisation, explained during the eco Association’s “Women in Tech” series, such as Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook. The top American manager distinguishes herself through, alongside great persuasive power, the gift of healthy self-marketing, something which many women and girls lack. “Women are often too humble. In an ever louder world of self-marketing, they must learn to seize the opportunity and make others aware of their skills. Women should define clearly what they want to become and have, and should not hesitate when it comes to cutting the best piece of the career cake for themselves,” Uschi Vranken explains.

For this, there is a need for strong role models. “Female role models have an immensely important function,” Lucia Falkenberg knows from experience. “They attract further female applicants, they act in companies as mentors for female colleagues and have a positive impact on the corporate image.” Companies would therefore be well-advised to bring their female specialists and leaders to word at conferences, trade fairs, and in panel discussions.

Girls study STEM subjects

Great job opportunities, interesting career paths, and challenging activities – anyone who decides to study the STEM subjects ensures themselves advantages in starting their career. More and more female students are seeing this: In 2018 in Germany, 39,607 students started their first semester of their computer science degree. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 8,918 of these were female. The number of women in training in the IT-related professions also improves from year to year. „Teachers and parents continue to be important influencers in the choice of profession of young girls. They should encourage their daughters or female pupils to take up technical professions and to make the most of the excellent chances they offer,” Falkenberg advises. It is also just as important to counteract false internal beliefs like “I am a girl – I can’t do math” as it is to tackle external gender-specific prejudices. Ultimately, digitalization is advancing in all areas of life, is becoming an employment engine, and offers lucrative career opportunities. Not only are specialists being sought in classic IT fields like developing and programming, but also in areas like digital marketing, in the legal departments, and in controlling. These many professional perspectives are something that nether women nor girls should allow to slip out of their hands.

In order to promote women in tech, eco introduces inspiring and talented  female specialists and leaders of the Internet industry in a series of interviews. The series “Women in Tech” will be published on the eco website, and promoted through eco social media and in the newsletters. We are still looking for more female talent in the digital sector. Interested interview partners can contact eco.

Lucia Falkenberg
© eco - Association of the Internet Industry