The way forward for women in tech - insights from ipoque

Although the role of women in tech and in the IT sector has undergone major changes in the past years, women are still being structurally and sometimes unknowingly disadvantaged, regardless of the overall conditions. Of course, for ipoque – as a technology and software development company – this topic plays an important role as well. At ipoque and Rohde & Schwarz, we foster and demand equal eligibility for everyone. We are always looking for the best talent to develop creative solutions and help us shape a safer and connected world, regardless of demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, etc.

We interviewed two female colleagues, Isabelle Meichsner and Anne Mehlhorn, about achievements and existing inequalities in the tech and IT sector. Anne is a software developer who takes care of the implementation of new features and the maintenance of the existing product and code, while Isabelle works in Requirements Engineering and Product Management. They provide some insights into their reasons for working at ipoque, which obstacles they had to overcome in their everyday life and how the topic of “women in tech” could develop in the future.

Why did you choose a career in the technical field?

Isabelle: I've always been interested in technology and computer science, which is why I wanted to study something in that direction. I didn't care whether it was a male-dominated sector or not.

Anne: I've chosen computer science as my second degree, after having previously studied economics. Thanks to my job as a student research assistant at the career office of my university at that time, I was able to take part in an intense consultation for vocational aptitude for free. They suggested that I go into the field of technology/IT.

When and how did you start to become interested in technology?

Isabelle: I grew up surrounded by a lot of technology at home (due to my father's occupation) and so handling it became natural to me pretty early on already. And thanks to my strong curiosity, I still find it fascinating to understand how some things work or what is behind them.

Anne: I was already a technophile as a kid/adolescent. I had my own computer pretty early and taught myself many things. In school, I also chose computer science as my elective subject.

I was already a technophile as a kid/adolescent. I had my own computer pretty early and taught myself many things. In school, I also chose computer science as my elective subject.


What obstacles do/did you face as a woman in particular in your job or during your career path so far?

Isabelle: It starts with supposedly small things: gender bias or unconscious bias. Different studies confirm that we generally think women less capable than we do men, even if the surrounding conditions are the same. Characteristics perceived as positive in a man have a negative connotation in women. This shows particularly in the STEM field. Stereotypes about the IT or technology skills of women are still widespread. Unfortunately, these prejudices happen unconsciously, structurally, and apply to all genders. I think we need a lot more education and exchange to abandon these prejudices.

Anne: At university there were some professors who were still very attached to the old gender concept and let us female students feel it. In general, we were always a minority (5 women out of 140 students) and thus had this feeling of being representative for our gender and being perceived as such. Later on, in my professional life that feeling went away. When you work in a team for a while you naturally eventually become part of it.

What makes your work at ipoque so exciting?

Anne: As protocols, applications and encryption techniques continue to evolve and change, we must always keep pace and find new ways, methods and technologies to continue to reliably identify and classify network traffic. This includes the use of ML and DL algorithms, high-dimensional data analysis and advanced caching methods. I find this very challenging and exciting because we work with the latest technologies and develop them further to make our software future-proof. This is important to ensure the security, performance and efficiency of networks. I work in a highly motivated team at a very high technological level. We support each other and work together to develop innovative software that offers our customers added value.

Currently, women in technical occupations often are still a minority – how do you think this will develop in the future?

Anne: I think it's related to the fact that we still get taught that math and technology are fields in which men are automatically better. Many girls internalize this in their school days and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I do think that the development of the last decades will continue and that even though we might never reach a 50:50 ratio, at least we will reduce the strong imbalance.

Isabelle: As mentioned before, it's not because women are less qualified or just not interested in technology but it's due to our socialization. I believe and hope that something will change about it in the future. Not just with regard to women in technical jobs but also about the prejudices and ascriptions to all genders in all areas – towards a more open and tolerant society. There has been a lot of change in recent years, and the topic of women in tech is also receiving more and more attention. I have personally taken part in events and even a mentoring program, specifically dedicated to this topic. So, something is really happening. Both in university and professional contexts, I've had the great fortune of meeting people who no longer share these outdated ideas about “women and technology”.

"Both in university and professional contexts, I've had the great fortune of meeting people who no longer share these outdated ideas about “women and technology."


What advice would you like to give girls and women interested in technical occupations?

Isabelle: Be confident and persistent.

Anne: My most important advice is to not let yourself be intimidated. Especially at the beginning of your studies or your career, you might have the impression that everybody else is already much further ahead or you think you're not capable. But if you’re into logical, abstract thinking and like to do math, then these are already great requisites. Be self-confident and do not let yourself be deterred despite any setbacks you might face and make use of your individual strengths.

At ipoque, we are proud of our team-based working environment that leaves plenty of scope to explore possibilities and take initiative. If you can imagine pairing technological competence with exciting challenges in a globally active technology and software development company, then learn more about the benefits we offer or directly have a look at our job offerings.