International Women's Day 2023 for digital equality - our developer in interview

Elena Höppner
by Elena Höppner Content MarketingPublished on 08.03.2023

DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality - this is the motto of today's International Women's Day. After all, our world is becoming increasingly digital and gender inequalities in this field are thus becoming more and more relevant. Access to digital technologies, digital skills and ultimately the proportion of women in tech positions unfortunately all point in the same direction: women have too little of it and are underrepresented. We therefore took today's Women's Day as an opportunity to interview our developer Shubhalaxmi Gokhale about her career path and her experiences in the IT industry.

The fact that digitisation is becoming increasingly significant in our world does not need much explanation. More and more professions are settling in the field of information technology and will increasingly do so; the potential of the future clearly lies in this field. And yet, things look rather bleak for women here so far: According to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, only 22 per cent of AI professionals are female - that's just one-fifth in one of the most emerging fields within digital technology.

To counter increasing social and economic inequalities and, conversely, to harness the potential of women for these relevant industries, more women in IT are needed. But what are the reasons why women are still so much less likely than men to choose such a career path today? On the occasion of today's Women's Day, we conducted an interview with our developer Shubu, who tells us something about her personal experiences.

Shubu, can you briefly tell us something about your career path?

I studied computer technology at university in India. After that, I worked as a Java developer for eight years. In India, after a few years as a developer, you become a team leader. This means that you don't just develop, but you are also responsible for making sure that the cooperation within the team and with other teams works well. After eight years, I decided to come to Switzerland with my family. I was at home here for four years and enjoyed having time for my children. But at some point I wanted to go back to work. Four years is a long time, especially in the IT industry, so I had to get used to the latest technologies again. I also did a German course - and then I started working here at Vanillaplan.

How did you decide to study computer science? Were you already interested in it as a teenager?

Yes, I was already fascinated by technology and computers as a child. My father was an electrical engineer and I went with him as often as I could and had technology explained to me. As a teenager, I was very impressed by technologies in films. Then I decided to study computer science. And I liked the studies very much.

According to studies, there are still many more men than women in the IT industry. Where do you think the reasons for this might lie?

Yes, that's the case here, but in India, for example, it's completely different. There, there are similar numbers of men as women in computer science studies. In the profession, it is maybe a 60 to 40 ratio of men to women because some women want to work in education and so prefer to teach computer science. But there are no big differences between women and men, not like here.

What could be the reason that it is so different here?

I haven't looked into it in detail, it's just a personal impression now. In India, in our parents' generation, women rarely worked. Then, in our generation, there was a strong change in thinking: Girls were very much pushed to work, not only in tech fields, but also in business or medicine. On the other hand, I think the competition is bigger in India: In Europe, you can work in all fields, you have good working conditions and you don't earn badly. In India, you have to fight your way up more and people are generally very ambitious.

Do you see any hurdles that might prevent women from working in IT? Do you feel it is more difficult for you because you are a woman?

I don't think there are really any objective hurdles. I don't think it's more difficult as a woman, at most as a mother, because you still have to take care of the children at the same time as working. However, women should not think that they have it easier because of their gender. It shouldn't matter whether you're a man or a woman, you should just always give 100 per cent.

What would have to change for more women to work in IT? What could be done?

I think children, especially girls, should be introduced to technology much earlier and their interest should be aroused. All children play on their mobile phones or consoles, they use technology, but they don't know the technology behind it. I think it would help if technologies were introduced at school with simple concepts. Boys often still talk about it in their free time, but girls less so they may never discover their interest in it that way.

Thank you very much, Shubu!