The representation of women in IT has been among the most discussed issues in recent years. Statistics have demonstrated equal employment between men and women in the IT sector. However, when the situation is examined in-depth, occupational groups show that career positions are differentiated based on gender.
In the Global Gender Gap Report, which is the result of research conducted on 156 countries, it is stated that there is still a need for more women in science and technology. According to the World Economic Forum, if the gender gap in the STEM field continues to grow at its current rate, it is estimated that it will take 135.6 years to make up for the gap. It was previously 99.5 years. (World Economics Forum, 2021)
Despite all, today, there are numerous female CEOs, programmers, and entrepreneurs at rapidly rising start-ups. As female employment increases, the number of role models for potential female employees grows. These women have shared fundamental qualities such as perseverance, self-belief, strong energy, and enthusiasm toward hard work.
We had the chance to interview two talented women working in the IT field, Kristína Smitková and Zuzana Roubová. Both perform their profession at Adastra.one, an IT firm in the Czech Republic. We sat down with Kristína and Zuzana to shed light on a woman's perspective on how it is working in a predominantly male-dominated IT industry. Both work in the HR department and have daily contact with males since one of their main tasks is to interview IT specialists. A job position with a vast representation of the masculine gender.
Here is what they had to say…
How did you get into the IT sector? Was it something planned, or did it just happen?
Kristína: In my case, it just happened by coincidence. When I was searching for my very first part-time job in HR during my university studies, I found a company that was dedicated to outsourcing IT specialists. I started with outsourcing IT specialists, and basically, with some small breaks, I stayed in the industry since.
Zuzana: It's the same for me as well. My first job was in a personnel agency, and after having worked there for a while, I realized that I wanted to work in an internal HR department. Shortly after, I found a company offering exactly that and started as an HR Assistant. I learned a lot, and after some time, I started primarily focusing on recruitment.
How does your typical day look like?
Have you noticed a lack of women in the IT industry? If so, why do you think that's the case?
So, do you think that if we encourage girls from a young age to get more in touch with technology and science in general, that could change the ratio?
Have you noticed a rise in women joining the IT industry, or perhaps a rise in interest?
What is the most difficult thing in your profession, and what are the biggest challenges you've faced in this role?
During the interviews, have you noticed a difference between a male applicant and a female applicant in terms of attitude or behavior?
Do you have any tips for women who want to get into the tech industry, and was there any advice you wish you had known when you got into IT?
If you don't know something, feel free to ask your colleagues. I mean, I have never seen in our company that if someone didn't know something, no one would help or someone would try to discourage them. Last but not least, be proactive. Your colleagues may help, but you are the one who needs to work on yourself.
Have you ever thought about becoming a tester or developer or any kind of IT programmer?
What do you do to keep a good work-life balance?
Kristína: I'm lucky to say that I don't feel the need to divide "work" and "life strictly" and I enjoy spending time with my colleagues outside of work hours as well. Other than that, I enjoy basic things, such as reading books, watching a good TV series, or hanging out with family and friends. I'm working on reducing my screen time and being more at the moment.
Is it like team building when you go out with your colleagues, or is it just like going somewhere with a few friends?
Kristína: It´s quite spontaneous and friendly. We gather and go. We often play badminton, organize board game evenings at work or have a drink together somewhere in the neighborhood.
What is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
Kristína: Since there are not so many women, I believe that we are all grateful for every other woman colleague joining us. Also, the environment is very inspirational. Even though you are not extremely deep into technology, even if you're not directly programming or if you are in the position of HR, being in an IT company teaches you so much.
Spending time with people who are smart and passionate about their industry brings you a lot of interesting facts about how technology is moving forward or about some news in the tech world. In our case, since we mostly work on mobile applications in our company, you get clues all the time about new applications or new features.
Zuzana: Sometimes, when I talk with my friends or people who don't know me and when I speak with them about my job, they are curious about it. They often think that in order to be able to interview IT, developers, I need to know more about programming, for example. They are unaware that every time I have an interview, a team leader from a specific department goes in with me.
Do you feel you're getting special treatment as a woman working in a male-dominated workspace?
Kristína: I don't notice any special treatment. I think everyone in our office is trying to be helpful, no matter their gender.
Zuzana: Sometimes, when we go for a beer, it's usually more fun.