The realm of technology, while advancing at a breakneck pace, remains predominantly male. Surprisingly, 60% of women in technology attribute their career path to the encouragement of a parent or teacher. However, it turns out a lot of women have stories where their families weren’t exactly cheering them towards tech. Many find themselves being nudged towards "soft skill" careers instead, making the idea of working with technology a bit more difficult. This concerning pattern spotlights the urgency for change, but thankfully, there's a glimmer of hope.
Bike Labyrinth was founded by a woman in tech, Ella Keijzer. Therefore she knows the struggles as a woman in tech, but also as a female entrepreneur, first hand. With this in mind Bike Labyrinth strives to create a space where everyone feels supported and motivated to work on their passion. One of our software developers, Begüm Eryıldız, was recently interviewed by Dutch newspaper NRC on this topic. We figured we couldn’t stay behind and share her story on working in tech and working for Bike Labyrinth.
Luckily Begüm has had a better time deciding to work in the technological field than most. Brought up by a teacher mother and a father rooted in finance, she was surrounded by people who nurtured her scientific curiosity. Her husband, a fellow tech enthusiast, further boosted her confidence with the assurance that the field was accessible and that she could do it. Her solid foundation in mathematics acted as a springboard, and with steadfast support, she embarked on her journey into the tech world. She dived into programming classes at her university, immersing herself in the realm of (mostly male) developers. The boot camp experience proved transformational, and she felt ready for her new career path. Initiatives like discounted courses for women offered a glimmer of hope and a shift in perspective.
However, gender inequality isn't the same across cultures. While the Netherlands only has 17% female representation in tech, in countries like Turkey, tech is a higher priority for women because it's tied to status, which is encouraged to gain for both men and women. This shows that background and upbringing really does make a difference. In a culture where ambition is encouraged, women can feel empowered to choose the career they truly want.
Not only the encouragement when growing up, but also the way boys and girls are raised differently is important. When girls are told to play with Barbie, behave and be polite, this can be called “pinkification”. To break these ways, Begüm believes (pop) culture and the media can help change this. For example, showing women kicking butt in tech (have you seen Rihanna in Ocean's 8?) and not just a male hacker with his hood up and dozens of empty soda bottles on the floor.
Despite these encouraging experiences, there are still challenges. A troubling statistic reveals that 1 in 5 women contemplate leaving their tech jobs. The swift evolution of technology, coupled with career breaks often associated with motherhood, raises concerns about skill relevancy upon reentry from within the (predominantly male) field. This shows that it is really needed to have flexible job options and workplaces that can adjust.
A female role model can also really help, not only when you’re young, but also in the workspace. Begüm believes that female bosses bring a whole new approach. Women can be more detailed, complementing the target-centric mindset often associated with male leadership. This shows the importance of diverse leadership in innovation and the impact female leadership can have.
To sum up, Begüm's story shows the struggles and victories that define women's roles in technology. There is definitely progress, but there is a lot left to change. Change how society thinks and raises kids, revamp education, show women in tech in the media and make workplaces welcoming for anyone. It’s not just about numbers, it’s about celebrating unique talents. The wish is loud and clear: let’s embrace change, encourage diversity and empower women to continue shaping the technology landscape.