Finding the right role model and not being personally affected by your own stereotype were some of the main themes of the Berlin Geekettes panel at Campus Party today, part of the festival’s Women in Tech Day.
Startup consultant Nicole Simon, Ruby on Rails developer Joan Wolkerstorfer, Etsy product manager Caroline Drucker and Changers co-founder Daniela Schiffer took the stage to discuss the things they had learnt from being successful tech ladies in a panel moderated by Berlin Geekettes founder Jess Erickson.
The panel looked at why there was a need to discuss the subject of women in tech and talked about some of the ways that women could be encouraged to get into tech. Some of the main themes were the importance of role models, the definition of success for a woman and why it was important to get more perspectives in the tech world.
One of the biggest topics was the idea of personal success, with the idea of ‘having it all’ in terms of work and family dismissed as a flawed concept. Caroline Drucker talked about how everyone should define their own concept of success, and family is not often part of it for women even though it is expected to be.
Nicole Simon continued on this theme, saying that you should carve your own path – if you want to work 60 hours a week, then do, but if you don’t want to or can’t then you shouldn’t: it is about making the choice for yourself.
The panel also discussed role models and the importance of finding the right mentor. Caroline spoke about how leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, and is not just about being Steve Jobs. She said that it was important for women to find the role model that suited them best. Nicole said that the environment that you grew up in was important as well – she came from a very progressive household with strong female role models, and that it had shaped her professional life.
Stereotyping was a major theme as well, and Joan talked about how it was important not just to debunk stereotypes, but also to avoid letting them affect how you feel about yourself. She pointed out that women in science fields had a high rate of burn out because they found themselves under pressure to perform against their stereotypes. Caroline made the point that tech is such a huge field and needs more than just one kind of perspective to be at its most effective – something all kinds of women can provide.
The talk finished up with Daniela urging the audience to be their own role model, no matter their background or status.
The Women in Tech theme will continue for the rest of the day, with a Rails Girls Berlin workshop and numerous other panels and talks from some of Europe’s most inspiring ladies in the biz.