European Women in Technology 2018
December 4, 2018
This year, I decided to blow my entire training budget on one event: European Women in Technology in Amsterdam. My colleague Paula Aaltonen agreed to come along, which made the trip extra enjoyable.
There were approximately 2000 participants and 150 speakers at this two-day event. Topics ranged from career and personal development to very specialized, hands-on technology master classes. Most of the time, there were 9-10 simultaneous presentations. While I tried to sample everything, my main disappointment was that I probably heard less than 10% of the content that was presented.
I especially enjoyed the emerging tech topics on virtualization and serverless technology, blockchain-based cyber security solutions and AI-enhanced static analysis tools, that not only find software bugs but also identify design errors. I don’t get to geek out like this in my daily work.
It’s not possible to even start discussing what we learned in the space of this blog. However, these are some of the quotes that I wrote down:
However, why was there a special technology event for women? Shouldn’t everyone just focus on their jobs, whatever their gender? I don’t have a definite answer, but my impression is that tech work environments can be alienating to women. I have never been very impressed by typical tech perks, like pinball games at the office. While I’ve been treated fairly and appropriately the vast majority of time, I have often wished that my (past) employers enforced stricter standards on workplace harassment. A tech event with a focus on women sends a strong message that employers are listening to female professionals and are willing to provide working environments, where women can focus – funnily enough – on their jobs.
Based on the quality, diversity and the sheer number of exceptional presenters and participants at this event, the technology industry is thriving in Europe. The predicted skill shortages are a positive challenge to be overcome. In fact, this can be an extraordinary time as a woman (or, in fact, as a human) to build a career in tech. I plan to enjoy the journey, support younger people interested in tech and not peak before 50.
What do you think? How will you create growth through diversity – until it becomes the norm?