Taking Inspiration from the European Women in Tech Conference in Amsterdam

Nearly 2,000 attendees, mostly women, gathered in Amsterdam for the 2018 edition of the European Women in Tech conference, which celebrates diversity in the fast-growing tech industry. Here’s what we learned from the event.

The European Women in Tech conference has grown significantly over just a few years, now featuring up to nine simultaneous speaker sessions. Although our representatives, Mira, Weronika, and Anna, couldn’t attend every session, there was still plenty of valuable insights to share.

Diversity remains a significant challenge for tech companies but achieving it can offer substantial benefits. Women don’t need to accept the compromises that have become the norm; by speaking up confidently, they can drive meaningful change.

Mirumee Women at European Women in Technology

The event was a huge success. The design of these swings, not so much.

What Was the Key Takeaway from the European Women in Tech Conference?

Anna: Diversity was the keyword of the conference but it’s not just about convincing women to get into tech, it’s about how to be successful and fulfill ambitions in an industry dominated by men.

Mira: Dr Carina Kögler, Head of Plant Service at Audi, shared how she had to go with male colleagues to a strip club to try and fit in to the male-dominated world she found herself in at the beginning of her career. Obviously, that was not good for her or the company she worked for at the time.

Weronika: The most powerful remark that came out of the conference was from Luciana Broggi, EMEA GM of Hewlett Packard Inc. It’s great to be talking about diversity but she dreams of a time when we won’t be discussing about it anymore because it will be the norm. That struck a chord with everyone at the conference.

Why Is Diversity Crucial in the Tech Industry?

Weronika: There were a lot of talks about why diversity is important for your team and company. It helps build better products because team members can draw upon their own unique cultural backgrounds or gender to find different solutions to problems. In diverse teams it’s also easier for people to share their ideas without fear of being judged.

Mira: Diversity doesn’t work if you only have one or two people who are outside of the norm, as they are then marginalized and excluded. It needs to be more of a genuine balance to really work.

Anna: Diversity is still a huge problem. The presenters from Xing explained how women have worse working conditions. There is still a huge gender pay gap. In Germany, for example, women earn 18.3% less than men in the same positions and there are 17.2% less women in tech positions. Statistics also show that only 31.5% of women with children under 3 years old are in active employment, while the figure for men is 80.6%. Societal expectations make it much more difficult for women to get out to work.

What Valuable Advice did You Take from the Women in Tech Conference?

Mira: If you want to be heard, you have to speak up. Don’t just wait to be discovered; if women sit quietly, our careers will go nowhere and we will only have ourselves to blame.

Anna: Yes, speaking up was a big topic. It was really interesting to hear Alena Hielema talk about how women need to take more ownership of their achievements. Instead of saying “we did this”, which women have a tendency to do, we need to brave enough to say “I did this.”

Weronika: We also heard from some speakers about how to be smart and get better salaries and improved working conditions. Women need to learn how to lead that conversation and ask those difficult questions in a way that gets results.

European Women in Technology: Bias and Diversity

Bias and diversity were big topics at the event

What Were the Most Inspiring Stories?

Weronika: In general it was really positive to be around so many successful women in our field who are working in big companies like Google, Shopify, Facebook, Amazon AWS, Zalando, and Adidas. One talk that really stood out for me was Amanda McAlister from ASOS sharing tips on how to integrate team members with one another. They have fun in-house sessions in which people can share about their outside interests. The better relationships they build through such activities help to make work more effective.

Anna: Irana Wasti, Senior Vice President and Head of EMEA in GoDaddy, showed up that combining family life with work is possible and that women don’t have to make the compromises that society suggests we should. It is not a straight choice between career and family. Irana gave birth half-way through an MBA and still has a successful career. She explained how women shouldn’t feel like we have to ask permission to get support from their bosses. We must speak clearly about our needs and not compare ourselves with others. If we push through fear of rejection, we can get what we need to be successful. Daria Dubinina, CEO of Crassula, a company that works in the same e-commerce space as Mirumee, was so sure about what she needed that she relocated from Ukraine to Silicon Valley because she wanted her ideas to be taken seriously. She decided to build her business in a place where a female CEO was treated with more respect.

What Are Your Final Reflections on the European Women in Tech Conference?

Anna: Not all of the topics were about women and diversity. I really loved hearing about JOMO from Rose La Prairie, a product manager from Android Digital Wellbeing. We all know about FOMO, the ‘fear of missing out’, and how attached we are to mobile devices. She presented a different way of thinking and showed how even some tech giants realize that we need to be less connected to our devices and get out and live a little more. We shouldn’t be checking our phones as the last thing we do before sleep and the first thing we do in the morning.

Weronika: Indeed, and it wasn’t all soft skills, there were also some big companies talking about technologies we use in Mirumee like Python, React, and GraphQL. It was nice to know that we are in such good company with the things we do on a daily basis.

Mira: Plenty of those successful women with inspiring stories were also very amiable and open to chatting with us in the networking area. Most of all, I’d like to travel back in time to attend all the talks!

Mirumee at European Women in Technology Conference in Amsterdam

We added colorful dashes to make Amsterdam in November look less gray

What Can We Expect from Future European Women in Tech Conferences?

Luckily, no time travel is actually needed. If you are interested in hearing some of the talks from European Women in Technology, keep an eye on their website, Facebook and Twitter pages over the coming weeks as they have promised to add plenty of thought-inspiring content.

You can also read more about our own hopes and aspirations to improve diversity in our recent post about the struggle to employ more female coders.

Mirumee guides clients through their digital transformation by providing a wide range of services from design and architecture, through business process automation to machine learning. We tailor services to the needs of organizations as diverse as governments and disruptive innovators on the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’ list. Find out more by visiting our services page.

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