International Women’s Day Tech Warriors #IWD2014

This International Women’s Day, expect to see women, globally celebrate, by breaking the glass ceiling in industries of all kinds. Recent studies have shown that increased diversity fuels greater innovation and creativity, but it can still be argued that, numbers of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) remain disappointingly low in some of the world’s leading economies. Not only that, but there is a major perception problem. Jan Cuny is a Program director, National Science Foundation’s Computing Education for the 21st Century. She says in the Chronicle:

“The gender gap in computer science is partly rooted in long-held popular misconceptions: that computing is too hard for girls, that it’s geeky, that it requires a single minded 24/7 focus, and—maybe worst of all—that computer science equals programming and so provides little benefit to society. Why would this picture be attractive to girls—especially to girls who want to be creative, to make a difference, to change the world?”

Microsoft vice president, Cindy Bates, has additinally bluntly expressed the view that “we need to do a better job of exposing women to technology-related jobs.” So while the global tech industry has copped its fair share of criticism as being male-dominated, Germany offers up an example, in the heart of Berlin’s booming start-up scene, where things are starting to change in the favor of the female tech entrepreneur. How come you ask?

The city’s flourishing tech scene has actually become one of the world’s tech hotspots and female leaders are right at the forefront of this innovative movement. Within Silicon Allee, the German capital’s thriving start-up community, women are now starting to lead the way.

Lamudi, a Rocket-Internet venture, serves as a platform for emerging real estate markets across the globe. In its stable of 75 successful start-ups worldwide, the incubator has a strong team of women to thank for its achievements. Lamudi alone boasts three female Managing Directors worldwide, as well as three Directors located in their Berlin HQ. More than half of their workforce in Berlin is also female.

Malen Gomez, Head of SEO at Lamudi, says the industry has developed enormously over the past 10 years. “The tech industry has changed so much over the last decade that now it isn’t rare at all to see a woman heading up global teams in this field. My role within Lamudi shows the huge potential for females within the world of start-ups,” she says.

While the tech arena is still a man’s world, there is no question that women are gaining ground in the industry. From industry leaders like Julia Kaganskiy, the editor-at-large for VICE magazine’s The Creators Project, to Twitter engineer Sara Haider, women are making their mark on this growing sector. There are countless others who not only lead the way in making female voices heard within the tech community, but who have also taken an innovative approach to the industry as a whole.

Jacqueline van den Ende, Founder and Managing Director of Lamudi Philippines, says women can bring something different to the table in the tech sector. “I feel that we particularly excel in creating a motivated and collaborative company culture. Paying attention to people before targets helps to create a team in which every single person is the best he or she can be. As a woman in a male-dominated setting, I often feel you are in a position of strength rather than weakness,” she says. 

“I love being a woman,” says Katy Campbell, Lamudi’s Global Public Relations Director. “Being a woman at the top is such a fantastic opportunity to inspire everyone around me to climb up the career ladder. I’ve always looked up to strong women as a way to encourage myself to be better; be stronger. The range of females who inspire me is so vast, from Arianna Huffington to Sheryl Sandberg. Being an inspirational woman doesn’t mean being at the top, it means being happy, being you, being great.”

It may shock you to learn that women account for half of the users of tech products and websites. According to a recent study by Delloite:

Research shows that [women’s] choices impact up to 85 percent of purchasing decisions. By some analyses, they account for $4.3 trillion of total U.S. consumer spending of $5.9 trillion, making women the largest single economic force not just in the United States, but in the world.

Given their interest and their economic power and insight, Tech companies could do far worse than giving more opportunities to women like Katy Campbell.