Our women about working in ICT “When collaborating with companies such as Flow Pilots, it is feels like an equal world” March 8, 2019

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Every year the number of women in the ICT world grows. But how does it feel to be a woman in a male dominated field? Four of our women Selin Ozpak, Martyna Majchrzak, Dewi Van De Vyver and Lisa Debontridder tell you all about it. 

 

Selin Ozpak, Junior Analyst 

What made you decide to study management and IT?

I started my master marketing because of my broad interest for consumer behavior. One of my subjects combined marketing and new technological evolutions. As a result of it I developed an interest for IT. The combination of business and the effect of IT applications on it was something I wanted to delve into. I discovered my talents and interests, so I started to look for a job where I could combine my passion for management, IT and planning. That’s when Flow Pilots came into the picture.

What are your tasks at Flow Pilots? 

My most important task is the visualization of customer’s wishes. I work closely with customers, developers, graphic designers and project managers so communication is key. I have to work out a plan that shows the different steps of a project, including requirements and activities. To get the wished result I need to get everyone on the same page which is not always easy. The fun part is that I’m not limited to one function thanks to the close collaboration with the people around me.

What are the biggest challenges of working in a male dominated company? 

In my opinion it’s a mixture of your attitude as an employee and the values a company considers important. There is more pressure for women to get accepted in the ICT world. There are still stereotypes in society that we must reject to show that women can do anything man can do. Women are not hired in ICT jobs so the companies can meet their quota’s but because they have the right skills for a certain position. However as women we still need to represent the ICT world well, to prove we belong here as much as men do. I’m glad that at Flow Pilots everyone is treated as equal, the atmosphere is very respectful and we tackle the problems together. The stereotype that ICT is a bad enviroment for us must disappear.

Martyna Majchrzak, Junior Office Manager 

How did you end up at Flow Pilots?

I was contacted by Koen Pellegrims, former CEO of Flow Pilots through Twitter. After two interviews I knew I wanted to work here. The company appeared as  the perfect place to grow as a young person, personally and professionally. I was always very interested in the future of mobile applications. The chance to learn more about the technical aspect of making applications and working together with developers really got my attention. After my interviews I got offered the position of junior office manager. Every day looks different, some days I create content for the website other days I test the chatbot with my colleague’s. I learn new things about mobile development every day.  One thing is for sure, it never gets boring.

How does it feel to work in a male dominated field? 

To be honest, I’m fine with it. I don’t feel like I’m treated different because I’m a woman. I know my strenghts and talents and I use them in my job. Still it would be great to see more women in the world of ICT. Most women apply for sales or project functions, but I barely see them applying for developer or QA tester. There is still a stigma around it. Women should not feel less than men in any sector. The women in this company are not treated different because of their gender. We are one team and that’s how it should be. If a company is not treating its employees as equal than there is something fundamentally wrong. Every person should be an addition to the team. Men and women with different backgrounds but with the same goal in mind. It’s all about skills and work attitude. 

What would you say to young girls contemplating a carreer in ICT? 

Don’t let social structure prevent you from doing what you love to do. Stand your ground, know your strenght and go for it. The world needs more female represantation in ICT, so if you want to see change become it.

 

Dewi Van De Vyver, CEO 

What is it like to work in a male dominated field? What are your biggest challenges.

Prejudice is still wildly spread. It is in the small things like assuming that because you bring coffee you cannot be at the same level, but also in the big things, like managing partners of big companies assuming that your male colleague is by default in hierarchy above you instead of the other way around. On the other hand it often depends on the setting, when collaborating with companies such as Flow Pilots, it is feels like an equal world, however the more hierarchy and the more the company culture is based on beating that hierarchy, less and less women are present and more prejudice towards women exists. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

My biggest challenge was to stop assuming men knew better. They just present what they know with more confidence. It often made me feel less secure about my own knowledge while, when digging deeper, I often knew more. I stopped assuming, and started asking questions.

Name one thing that would make the ICT field more accessible to women?

Starting early in school is definitely the bear minimum. You can’t know what you don’t know. You can’t know about things you have yet to discover. Learning that technology has many faces and that many things are very approachable may lower the threshold to start the education. I think that a less theoretical approach but a more problem solving approach, would make connection to how women think.

Do you think ICT needs more women? And if so, why.

As with everything made in life, those who create put in their passion, their idea, their vision but also their bias. A world dominated and constructed by men only, shows just one side, a very biased side.

In this very exciting age where technologies such as AI, are reaching their full potential, it is important that those programming and teaching these systems represent the perse world we live in. Women represent more then half of the world population, it would be dramatic if we would miss their vision in the virtual world that lies ahead.

 

Lisa Debontridder, Graphic Designer

 What is it like to work in a male dominated field? What are your biggest challenges? 

For me the biggest challenge was, and often still is, to have a voice people listen to. As a UI/UX designer you need a strong opinion and argumentation to convince the client that there are other (and maybe even better suiting) options than the one in their head. They can be very fixated on something that doesn’t really matter altogether and undermines the usability. When visiting clients with my more experienced (male) lead designer, I notice that the customers tend to change their mind more quickly/easily/often when the same argumentation comes from him than from me. It’s definitely not only a matter of gender. It’s the combination of being a woman and being young. Confidence is key.

Name one thing that would make the ICT field more accessible to women?

Targeted education, especially towards young girls. Letting girls know that ICT, and especially hardcore development, is not only a playing field for men and there are opportunities for woman as well. Currently, there are already great initiatives like Coder Dojo or WeGoSTEM that focus on educating young children and broadening their view of ICT. But the more initiatives, the better.  Tech is the future, so why aren’t we integrating it more prominently in our education plan from an early age? Right now, it’s a decision that you often have to consider and think about at the age of eighteen and starting at the university. By then young potentials are already pushed in a certain direction by society, which often associates woman with everything that is related to care, health or communication. While tech, mathematics and science are often associated with men and hence, have become male-dominated fields.

Do you think ICT needs more women? And if so, why. 

I don’t think that there should be more women in particular. I think it should be more diversity. Diversification leads to a better representation of the current society. Everybody has a different view of things and things only become interesting once those views get combined leading to room for discussions. If everybody in a team would have the same gender, race or background than it is more likely/probable that solutions will be presented/constructed in a more safe and conservative way, since all those people will more or less look at things the same way. When we look at a problem or opportunity, people will perceive it through their glasses, through the experience they had in life, through the problems that they encounter in their everyday life. If there is no diversity in the team, the solution is going to be incomplete.