Can you describe the environment for women in the Italian IT sector?
In Italy, what we usually call “gender gap” in the IT sector is still a problem to be overcome. Along with the theme of IT knowledge, there is also the study of STEM subjects, which in Italy is on the right track, but is not yet at the level of many European countries, our neighbors. For this reason, SheTech Italy was born, an association with a social purpose to attract women, young and old, to STEM subjects.
What are some of the biggest challenges that women who want to pursue a career in the world of technology face today?
Being a woman in IT careers is not easy, but certainly less difficult than in the past. We have many great examples to appeal to Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook; Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM; Marissa Mayer, former CEO at Yahoo!. These are all international examples, but also in Italy, we have prominent profiles: Barbara Cominelli, COO at Microsoft Italia, Mirella Cerutti, country manager at SAS Italy, ecc… The biggest challenge is to believe in ourselves until the end. Commitment, study and the desire to move forward are the main ingredients. As SheTech Italia we know that there is still a long way to go, for this reason, we are so committed to empowering women in the tech sector.
Do women need special policy against discrimination at their companies?
There is no real law written in Italy, but in recent years many Italian companies have activated special programs of “Inclusion & Diversity” to get as soon as possible to balance the gender gap. In the codes of conduct, the chapter “female empowerment” is very much felt.
What kind of educational opportunities in Software Engineering or any other IT-related specialties do you have in Italy?
All the major Italian universities offer excellent software engineering courses, both in public and private universities. It is possible to access targeted courses, masters funded by companies to deepen their knowledge in the development of the code. However – in our opinion – the most important and significant training is always on-the-job and as practical as possible.
Thanks to SheTech Italy we offer several courses focused on the major programming languages.
What steps should be taken to attract more women to tech? What kind of events and plans do you have in mind on SheTechItaly?
Fostering technical subjects is already done in primary school. Many schools adhere to coding initiatives offered by associations and organizations dedicated to this type of activity.
In general in Italy, even if the university offer is very complete and on average “our” engineers are theoretically better prepared than the rest of Europe, the practical aspect is less developed. We should put our “hands in the bag” much more and have more job opportunities once we leave university.
Would you say from your own experience… Have you seen improvements in diversity over the years?
Absolutely. In recent years, as mentioned before, we often talk about “gender gap”, “inclusion&diversity”, “women empowerment” and companies have grasped this need from below, investing budgets in initiatives in favor of inclusion&diversity. We often also organize breakfasts at tech companies, where the main managers/representatives tell our community about their steps towards equality and “women empowerment”.
What is it that you enjoy most about your current job? What kind of technologies do you use for it? Do you write code?
I currently work as a digital consultant a leading international consulting firm specialized in technology solutions and digital transformation programs. I am very satisfied with my journey and – fortunately – I have never felt discriminated against, perhaps also because of my personality. I don’t write code, I graduated in Economics but I had to learn to interact with developers and engineers.
Large companies have all their positive and negative sides, certainly what I have learned from my path is the management of time and deadlines, the interaction with others and the construction of the team. For continuous learning, I study new technologies to propose on the market: applied artificial intelligence, blockchain and IoT are the most recurrent themes in this period.
What would be your message to all people trying to get into technology?
To keep exploring. The world of technology is so wide and able to offer so many opportunities, that you can’t just sit back and watch and do nothing. SheTech Italy tries to pass on these messages and we are doing our best to be a driver capable of enabling girls, students, and workers, to this world of opportunities.
I conclude with a quote from our President, Lisa di Sevo: “SheTech Italy want to be a change agent in the Italian tech scenario, offering a collaborative environment that makes women more and more aware and able to assert themselves personally and professionally. We want to be a facilitator and point of reference for all those women who work in the tech and digital world”.