Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!
I was born and raised in a small city in between Hamburg und Lübeck, when I was 15 I went to Australia for an exchange year and came back a totally different person. I finished school in Lübeck and moved to Wiesbaden for my boyfriend at that time, to study Media Management at Hochschule RheinMain. When my boyfriend and I separated a few years later, I moved to Sri Lanka to work at a surf & yoga retreat and a few months later I came to Berlin.
In Berlin I studied Sociology and computer science and started working at Tech4Girls as a working student. So there are a lot of places for a person who is now 27 years old. But every milestone in my life changed me for the better.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
My parents always tried to make everything possible for me. I remember my dad saying, if I wanted to become a zookeeper, that would also be fine. I only remember that I never wanted to work with children, because my mom is a trained nurse for preemies and just like every child that comes into puberty, I didn’t want to be like my mom. Little did I know…
How did you become interested in tech?
It was actually more of a coincidence. The university where I studied sociology is a technical university, which means you have to choose a technical subject next to your major. When we had the choice, I was bored by the other subjects and chose computer science as a challenge. And it definitely was a challenge to start with.
You’re the CEO at Tech4Girls – what is it about and how does it work exactly?
Lots of jobs in the future are in IT but our society is not succeeding in piquing girls’ interest in technology. The share of women in IT is only 16.6% whereas women make 46.3% of the total labor force.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
The impact. At the moment we’re teaching around 600 girls in Berlin in computer science. That means 600 girls who actually get to choose what they want to be when they grow up. Girls who get a fair choice and not a biased one.
What drives you at work?
Success. What sounds like a Personality Development answer is actually what drives me the most. To see what I have accomplished, to speak with the people I have influenced and to work one day at a time.
In your experience with Tech4Girls, what hinders girls the most on their path in tech?
Society – how we grow up made us into the people that we are now. I grew up thinking that only 2 genders exist, I believed in gender stereotypes, I thought I could only love men. Because society told me so. Years later I know better, but it wasn’t easy to get here. Because society doesn’t actually make it easier for people to change and learn and thrive, society wants us to stay the same.
Besides getting girls into tech, you’re a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and do active work for it, right?
I’m openly gay, even in the work context. I try to be as authentic as possible, because I think that’s the only way to become a role model. On my Instagram I speak up about the LGBTQIA+ community, feminism and mental health – trying to break stereotypes.
What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?
Probably the biggest challenge was that being a woman and CEO in tech is not enough. As a woman in tech I already face so many challenges, that when it comes to applying for prizes or competitions I am quite used to winning. I am really ambitious and convinced that I am enough. And sometimes when there is a different opinion it’s hard for me to face it.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast?
What advice would you give other women (or girls) in tech?
Never stop dreaming. Programming is just a language, the same as Spanish or French. If you learned a language in school you might have felt lost at the start, but when you got the basics, you felt unstoppable. Computer Science isn’t any different, you start with the basics and might feel lost in a whole galaxy, but when you get the hang of it, you can see progress pretty clearly.
And the last question: All we need is …?