6 September 2021, text and photo: Michèle Schaub
Women are still in a minority in IT professions – at Helvetia like everywhere else. Women studying IT in Switzerland are still the exception, not the rule. This makes it difficult to find young female staff in the IT sector. What can be done about this imbalance? And what are the opportunities and challenges for women in the IT job market? We asked three female employees working in IT at Helvetia.
"Women should dare to try new things."
"It was always clear to me that I wanted to pursue a job with promising future prospects and great potential for expansion. At university I decided to major in logistics. Thanks to my great interest in such areas as purchasing, sales and project management as well as my internships, I now work in IT at Helvetia. Moving into the IT sector has opened many doors for me. Since this spring I've been working in Group Procurement, with responsibility for all recruitment issues throughout Switzerland. I don't believe women have fewer opportunities in terms of promotion – on the contrary. At Helvetia, both male and female talents are promoted and supported. Naturally IT is still predominantly a male domain. But one shouldn't disregard the fact that more men apply for IT jobs than women.In addition, work in IT is usually very systematic. That probably puts young women off at first. In my experience, women often pursue their creative strengths and are more emotional and empathetic than men. Men, on the other hand, usually work and communicate much more directly. I'd say that as a woman, you don't necessarily have to do more in IT because of this, but you do have to be more serious about fighting your corner. Furthermore women should dare to try new things, sometimes far from their comfort zones. Ultimately the female perspective can enormously enrich IT and open up new opportunities. That's exactly why I'd like to see more women in IT."
"Half my team are women"
"My plan was actually clear: after my Master's degree in economics, I'd work in marketing somewhere. I was never very interested in IT topics – maybe I didn't think it was a field that could really interest me. But after an internship at a large consulting firm, I started as a university intern in project management in IT at Helvetia – and then I got a permanent position.I work in project support, not as a technical specialist. I deal with a broad range of communication issues, which means I create project status reports, send out newsletters and conduct performance measurements. I especially appreciate dialogue with the various stakeholders. This wasn't always easy, particularly during the pandemic. But it's challenges like these that make the day-to-day work so interesting. My job shows that in the world of IT, technical knowledge isn't always enough. The field is extremely diverse, and my team is really great. Half of them are women, by the way.Our support for each other enables us to constantly develop. That's why I really appreciate Helvetia as an employer. Young talent, whether male or female, is encouraged and taken seriously."
"Many people are not even aware of everything that lies behind IT."
"After I completed my Master's degree in business informatics, it was clear to me that my first job would be in IT.I've always been fascinated by mathematical and scientific subjects, as well as by topics related to artificial intelligence. Many people still think that all IT employees do is set up computers and printers, for example. Many people are not even aware of everything that lies behind this field. It's much more about looking into the future, about developments in technology and digitalization. With the increasing relevance of these topics and the greater need for employees in these areas, there's certainly a tendency for companies to hire more women in IT. I think that's great, because even at Helvetia the proportion of men in IT is still clearly predominant. In my team I'm the only woman, and also the youngest – but that doesn't bother me. I have many more male contacts in my private life as well. I've never had the feeling that I'm disadvantaged in my team, or that I have to work harder – on the contrary. Women are often more empathic and sensitive. If you're also reasonably assertive and quick-witted, your prospects on the IT job market are certainly good. Companies can do their bit to attract more women into IT professions with flexible working models like FlexOffice or job sharing, for example."