Women in tech

I never knew otherwise, or should I say, I never realized we were outnumbered, it never really crossed my mind.
Why did it become a thing now?
Maybe it’s that when you get to a certain age and/or big changes are about to happen, you start to reflect.
Where do I want to go, where have I been, what made the journey easy or hard, read some articles, read some books, get inspired by women empowerment and feel the community that is starting to rise behind women in leading roles.

Obviously I can count and I have always “seen” less girls and women throughout my studies and career. I guess I never really “felt” this.

I grew up playing with remote controlled electric cars, building treehouses and got my first computer aged 12. Maybe this started because my dad did not know what to do with typical girl-toys, but for the record, I was handed barbie dolls but had the privilege to choose and clearly did.
Although big steps were made and even brands like Lego are stepping up to remove gender bias in their toys, there is still work to do here. From birth, we unconsciously pass on gender-specific expectations. It’s always harder to swim against the current, even if it’s not a strong one.

I always had supporters, both in my family but definitely in my work-environment.
This is where it does not even matter what your gender is, everybody just performs better when feeling valued and connected.
It’s only now that I realize how important this was and is, and how lucky I got. Even when not really searching for it. It’s time to give something back.

There’s a Bro Code – an unspoken set of rules with a little wink to ICT.
It’s not everywhere, but unfortunately it exists. It’s not even on purpose and can hide in small things, like inviting all your male technical colleagues to a beer-tasting and don’t invite that one female colleague because you already know she does not enjoy beer.
We need a Girl Code for this. We need to feel connected, everyone needs to feel connected.

At Netleaf we have always aimed for that 50-50 balance. We have that in our mission statement from the early beginning. Throughout the years, our decision was proven right.
It does not end at the female/male balance – diversity and inclusion is what really values our company.

When looking at the ratio’s of the ICT students, I am hopeful. In 2018, Belgium was top of the EU-Class with 37% female students . Unfortunately ICT is still a very broad term and this is far from what I see in my day-to-day job in CyberSecurity.

The question I do not get answered is why are we so outspoken outnumbered in the technical cybersecurity roles?
We use that same laptop that someone would use in a more female-populated role. There are no characteristics required that generally speaking are more commonly seen in men.
The shift to the cloud is real and most of my work exists on configuring cloud services and/or remotely connected to machines in private/public datacenters, all without moving from my desk.
Better yet, we need more of these stereotypical feminine characteristics (sensitivity, supportiveness,  gentleness, modesty, emotional, connected, kind, helpful, devoted).
The combination of both feminine and masculine characteristics, is what makes the dream work.

I want to be your supporter. I want to be part of that unspoken girlcode.
But most of all, I am conviced that magic happens when there is no more need for Bro or Girl Codes.

– Heidi Block
Cybersecurity Consultant & Co-founder Netleaf