Women Making Their Mark on The Tech Scene
Do you want to know something shocking? In Sweden, one of the most gender equal nations in the world, women still only makeup only 22 percent of the tech focused workforce. Despite Stockholm’s booming tech scene, women are missing out on some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering.
Gender stereotypes are stopping women from pursuing careers in this area. Let's crush these outdated notions right now.
You think technology is only for men? Wrong!
You believe technology is only for a people who have a passion for mathematics and physics? Wrong! People enter into the technology field from all types of areas - from archaeology, design, to mathematics.
You think technology is ‘too geeky’ for you? Wrong! Unless by geeks you mean people who are pushing the boundaries, innovating businesses, and directly shaping the future?
For our latest 'Women in Tech’ series, Inicio is sitting down with women who are making their mark in the Swedish tech sector to discuss these outdated notions and their 5 main career learnings.
Carmen Beltran – Co-Founder of Rely (A Financial Service For Women).
With degrees in marketing, business development, and international relations, Rely Co-Founder, Carmen Beltran, didn’t take a 'traditional' career path into the tech sector.
Instead, it was during her time as a project manager for world-renowned organisations such as United Nations, and Doctors with Borders, that she realised technological innovations could help her finally achieve the profound social impact she had been searching for her whole career.
Learning 1: Technology Can Drive Change in All Sectors – You Do Not Need to Have a Purely Tech Focused Career
“I ended up in tech because I literally went through my entire career helping to support organisations that I thought would change the world. And I realised I had just become like a little rat on a wheel, just pushing paperwork - and it didn't make me feel better,” Carmen says.
Whilst her humanitarian work took her around the world – including longer stints in Geneva,Myanmar, Thailand and Burma– she always felt that “needed more.” It was technology that finally filled this void.
“I've done so many different things and in all of them, I just wanted to feel that I could make 'change happen'. Unfortunately, these big humanitarian institutions work move extremely slowly. They depend so much on politics and negotiations and diplomacy. In contrast, the tech sector is always undergoing rapid change. These areas need to be combined!”
Carmen strongly believes that more humanitarian organisations need to utilise technology to elicit more rapid and profound changes worldwide.
She urges people interested in humanitarian efforts in the 21st century to instead find courses that incorporate technology – rather than more conventional university studies.
Learning 2: Consider How You Can Combine More Traditional University Studies with Technological Studies
“There are not enough people in tech that are working for social impact. And I think that this is an issue we see in humanitarian efforts or development studies. We need to strive for understanding technology better, so we can make bigger jumps in the ways in which we apply policy.
“People need to combine more traditional studies with technology,” Carmen says.
"Innovation and technology allows speed of change, and the reach of change. If your business can harness technology, it will drive impact and give you power. If you stay with the same organisations that are doing the same repetitive process that was designed 50 years ago that change is not going to be fast enough,” she says.
Learning 3: You Do Not Have to See Yourself As A ‘Tech Person’ To Work In The Tech Field.
Whilst she didn't originally label herself as a ‘tech person,’ she soon realised that everyone is dealing with technology on a daily basis. We are all 'techies.'
“It seems ridiculous to say, ‘I’m not a tech person – whatever that means.’ Technology is everywhere now– it’s our phone, in the way we work from home. We can use technology to drive change and help empower local people by helping give them better access to public health, business growth, connectivity.
"Technology drives the change we want to see, and it is constantly changing and evolving – unlike more traditional sectors.
Learning 4: You Know More About Technology Than You Think - After All, You Interact With It Everyday.
Carmen is harnessing the power of technology to drive social impact through her new company, Rely. Rely is a financial wellness app designed to help women take control of their finances. She has also helped to launch EMMSTECH – a grassroots organisation that aims to empower and educate women of colour in the tech sector, and creative agency, The Shout Studio.
Once she ventured into the start-up world, she realised just how vital a grounding in tech was for business success.
“Apps, AI, machine learning. This is all changing the business world. Even in marketing, you need digital marketing tools now.”
“You will never succeed in most business without being able to harness the latest digital advancements."
Learning 5: Technology And Start-Ups Drive Social Change
Carmen encourages other women interested in the start-up world, technology, entrepreneurship, or equality to also get involved in technology – if not the future will only be created by middle class, white man.
“Women need to get more involved in technology because technology impacts on us all.
“The future is being driven by a very tiny minority. And they get to decide how we're going to see the world.
“Even if you study journalism, you need to understand how algorithms work. Why are they placing you in bubbles of information in social media? How is it that ads work? Why is it that there's so many bots online clicking on different things - all this type of information."
She wishes digital skills were mandatory at the high school level, due to the enormous political and economic impact it has around the world.
“If you want to make a better world, you have to understand technology, because it directly impacts on everything in the world right now.”
Her last piece of advice? “Use technology to become the ‘change makers’ that the future desperately needs.”