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Created on 21.10.2019

Offering a platform to women in tech

We Shape Tech is a network for women in IT. Members Janine Fuchs, Melanie Gabriel and Aileen Zumstein explain why more women are needed in IT and how this can be achieved.

How well are women represented in IT?

According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, women make up around 30 percent of students in the technical sciences. In IT companies, the proportion of women is currently more like 15 to 20 percent. And at management level of these same companies, this share is even smaller: only around 10 percent are female.

And generally, are women catching up in IT?

It’s difficult to say because there are very few current surveys. What’s clear though is that tech skills will become ever more important professionally in future − and this applies to both men and women.

Why do we need more women in IT?

Digital products are used as much by women as by men. But they are developed primarily for middle-aged men. The female (and other) perspectives are left out − even though it’s well known that more diverse teams develop better, more marketable products and services. And that's not all: digitization and digital transformation are the strongest drivers of social change. In order to be champions of the digital future, we need the greatest talents − both male and female.

What are the greatest challenges for female managers in the male-dominated IT sector?

So that they can stay up to date and not switch to a different sector. IT offers so many opportunities to solve exciting challenges. And it's really stimulating to work with so many smart minds. With just a few lines of code, we in IT can reach the whole world − from users in the African savannah to those in the South American jungle and high in the Himalayas.

How can and should women be supported in IT?

It's very simple: women at the top lead to more women further down the ladder. It's the simplest way to solve the diversity problem. For women, it is important that they can benefit from role models. Women should also take advantage of the opportunity to promote themselves and one another by building a strong network, making themselves visible and talking about their IT background and skills. Helpful too are gender-neutral recruitment processes in companies and a feel for gender diversity in teams. And quite fundamentally, women should get excited about the STEM subjects, i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics, when making their career choices.

What do networks like We Shape Tech contribute?

According to a Harvard study, enrolment quotas rise by 30 percent when female high school students come into contact even once with a female role model in the STEM subjects in the context of their choice of study. Women in the sector leading by example clearly has a massive impact. This is why we at We Shape Tech focus on offering a platform to talented women in tech and inspiring others, because other women can benefit from what their counterparts have achieved, what they do and the experiences they have had. These women are pioneers for so many others. In short, We Shape Tech is a platform that enables women to exchange ideas with others from the IT and innovation sectors, securing the transfer of knowledge and stimulating public dialogue. We Shape Tech is touring nationally and soon internationally. In Switzerland it has branches in Basel, Bern, Léman and Zurich.

About the authors

Melanie Gabriel

Melanie has been working in the tech sector for several years. As a start-up entrepreneur, she usually wears several hats at the same time and acts as a bridge between tech and business.

Janine Fuchs

Janine is an entrepreneur in the communications design sector and is co-founder of We Shape Tech.

Aileen Zumstein

Aileen is an entrepreneur and owner of a consulting firm that also develops and implements communication strategies for tech start-ups and tech companies. She is co-founder of We Shape Tech Basel.

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