Only one in four tech employees are women, and this proportion falls even further when we look at executives and founders. Explanations offered by some bosses from large corporations can be borderline laughable.
Fortunately, the Polish startup and tech scene seems to be bucking this trend. Whether we speak of at top industry performers, or we take a look around at a scene at recent Entrepreneur’s Leader Gala, where Bee Talents took home a prize – women are no longer a novelty. Our own company – started from scratch by a young mom – is a testament to this progress.
Let’s hear from women – all of them
A great example of women’s success in the Polish IT sector is the recent Strong Women in IT 2019 report by Come Creations Group. It is one of the most interesting compendiums of knowledge about local female entrepreneurs. Based on a survey directed at female leaders in the industry, it uncovers some interesting insights that I would love to discuss. We discuss it proudly here because our CEO Ola Pszczoła is featured between almost a hundred top female performers in the world of new tech! Congrats:)
First of all, I would like to mention a couple of things the report seems to be missing. A huge majority of interviewed women are from Warsaw or two-three other largest cities. I am aware that this is mostly caused by the simple geographic distribution of business opportunities around the country. Nonetheless, I keep feeling that we miss out on the experiences of female bosses from smaller cities. Consequently, the report has participants from the USA and Great Britain, but not from a city below 0.5 million – where a large majority of polish women live.
The second drawback of the report is that it stops a step short of giving us any attempted solutions. Certainly – the data is interesting and well presented – but it seems like a missed chance. If the authors already asked women bosses questions like “What was your biggest defeat last year?” or “What are the drawbacks of working in IT?”, they could also give responders the chance to say what they would like to see change about those issues. Again, I think those women themselves would have the best ideas on how to solve problems they identified, which would be extremely valuable data for readers of this report.
Despite those small issues, the report all together is a valuable read. Hearing leader’s perspectives are refreshing since respondents come from quite an array of businesses, from banking software companies to startup accelerators. Below I compiled short outtakes from the report, showing the most interesting statistics and answers. Finally, on page 117 you can read answers by our CEO and founder. Let’s dive in!
Change in IT is inevitable, at least until the breakneck pace of the industry doesn’t generally slow down and mature significantly. Who knows – maybe the intrinsic characteristic of the internet will actually keep it up!
Most Strong Women respond in the report that they rarely use organized forms of in-person education, which is a rather dire outlook. There is a reason why we need access to tutors and coaches – human beings learn best in close proximity to other smart humans.
We talk about empathy and soft skills all the time during our workshops and consulting cooperations. It is striking to see the proportion of female leaders who see interpersonal relations as the most important part of well functioning teams. This is crucial for attracting more women into an industry that historically struggles with top female talents.
Finally, climbing any ladder is easier when someone reaches out to us from the higher rungs. While nobody should force leaders to assist other businesses to the detriment of their own organizations – we believe that helping open up a rather exclusive industry to new blood is a very worthy endeavor. Interestingly, women in startups declare that they help other women in business more than women in corporate leadership. No easy reason pops out to me that could explain this, maybe you have some ideas?
Below I present two of the best quotes from the report – and I found the answers about key challenges in our industry the most thoughtful. We largely conform to what both Ms. Młynarczyk and Jabłońska say here: that changes in the business environment can be challenging and need responsible, but dynamic leadership.
What do you think about the state of female leadership in Poland? Do you have any insights or experiences you would like to share? Have you noticed significant changes in how your industry treats female leaders?
Let us know!