What percentage of IIT graduates leave India

Alone among menLack of women in the IT industry

It's not as if there weren't any female role models in the history of computer development. On the contrary.

There was, for example, the American computer scientist Grace Hopper, who tinkered with the first computers after the Second World War and later developed programming languages ​​- in the service of the US Navy.

Ada Lovelace, a British mathematician of the 19th century, is also mentioned again and again as an early visionary for computer science because of her work with algorithms - even if historians disagree about their actual meaning.

Programming as a typical female job

In the first half of the 20th century, in the early days of computer development, programming was even a typical female profession. Perhaps also because it was thought of as easy office work at the time.

Today women are a rarity in IT professions. In computer science, men dominate at German universities. Not even 20 percent of the students are women. This picture can also be seen in other technical subjects and professions:

"In any case, there are still too few women, especially in the apprenticeship trades, but also in studies and, of course, in work - of course, it naturally follows one another," says Ursula Köhler. She has a doctorate in computer science. In the Society for Computer Science she is involved in the specialist group "Women and Computer Science".

"The reason for that is of course a difficult question and certainly has many dimensions."

One reason why too few women choose IT and IT professions has something to do with upbringing and schooling.

Ursula Köhler and many other experts criticize that there is still the prejudice that technology is not for girls:

"In Germany it is certainly still the case that boys in the family are more likely to be encouraged to use technical toys and girls less so," said Köhler. This effect continues to increase. "Then there are predominantly kindergarten teachers in the kindergarten who do not necessarily promote technical talent and it goes on in school."

Women are in short supply in the so-called MINT professions (imageBROKER)

Bad at math: a trivial offense!

In this way, gender-typical role stereotypes are being cemented more and more. Manager Simone Menne, who sits on the supervisory boards of four large companies and mentors young female students, also made this observation:

"I think it starts very early because little girls are often socialized that way."

Just assume that girls are better at languages ​​and communication than IT or math.

"And that then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you persuade girls that they don't know math or they have no logical understanding, then in case of doubt they won't enjoy it either."

Dorothee Bär agrees that girls are not motivated enough for technology, IT and natural sciences. The CSU politician is Minister of State in the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Government Commissioner for Digitization. "It starts at school," says Dorothee Bär. "It is still common nowadays to convince girls that math is not so important to them or that you flirt with it. There are still textile companies in Germany that make shirts for girls: 'I think math is stupid' or 'In Math, I'm stupid. "

This message is fatal, says Dorothee Bär:

"Often people suggest that you can't because you think you don't have to. In all honesty, nobody will boast about being bad in German. That would be embarrassing. You never say, 'I'm bad at German 'or' I was bad at German at school. 'Nobody says that. It's such a minor offense with maths and with all other science subjects too. "

The result: only a few high school graduates decide to study computer science. According to a study by the Center for Higher Education Development, or CHE for short, the proportion of women across all computer science courses in 2017 was around 18 percent on a European average. Ireland leads the field with 40 percent female IT students. At just under 17 percent, Germany is below the average.

In developing and emerging countries, the interest of women in digital topics is much higher than in industrialized countries (dpa / EPA / Piyal Adhikary)

Few computer scientists in industrialized countries

The shortage of women in computer science - and also in the other so-called MINT subjects such as mathematics and natural sciences - is a global phenomenon, albeit to different degrees.

"It is very interesting that there are many more women in such professions in other countries," says computer scientist Ursula Köhler. "Turkey is a typical example where there are a lot of women engineers. Why is that? I mean, some of these are traditional societies where the role of women is much less free than us."

An observation that also supports science. The psychologists Gijsbert Stoet from the British Leeds Beckett University and David C. Geary from the University of Missouri in the USA dealt with the so-called "Gender-Equality Paradox", the paradox of gender equality.

They were able to show that, of all places, in those countries in which equality between men and women is very advanced, relatively few women opt for STEM professions, while in developing and emerging countries it is often exactly the other way round.

This paradox is particularly pronounced in the Scandinavian countries Finland, Norway and Sweden. The opposite can be observed in Turkey, for example: around a third of IT graduates here are women. Figures for engineers are available for Malaysia and Oman: 50 and 53 percent of them are women.

Digital State Minister Dorothee Bär has an explanation for these numbers. A STEM training is linked to a promise of promotion:

"In India, Iran or Iraq, these are countries where women actually notice that a technical degree or a degree in computer science helps them develop socially and make progress in life. Of course, this is not the case with us, because we because you are often already too full. You don't have to study computer science to get out. "

Jewelry, flowers, fashion

The researchers Stoet and Geary also explain the gender equality paradox with the living conditions and the opportunities for advancement of women. They hypothesize that women in countries with a poor or no social security system are more likely to push for well-paid jobs in IT and research, while women in countries with social security are more likely to pursue individual professional interests - even if these promise neither a career nor a high income.

When women founded online start-ups, it was mainly in the social and service sectors, less so in the hard high-tech sector (dpa / Carsten Rehder)

Digital State Minister Dorothee Bär from the CSU agrees with this thesis:

"Even with the women who are now active in start-ups who are founding start-ups, I notice that very strongly. How many women go into DeepTech? How many women are in FinTech? When women start -up-making, then it often has a social component or a service component. Then jewelry is sent, flowers are sent, it's about fashion.

Too few women study information technology subjects or work in relevant professions. And: there are fewer and fewer. Research shows, for example, that between 2000 and 2012, fewer and fewer women in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA obtained a university degree in computer science.

Why women are turning their backs on computer science

Constanze Kurz from Berlin studied computer science and also did her doctorate in the subject:

"That was a bit of a coincidence, I first studied economics. And there were several interesting computer courses, then I switched."

Constanze Kurz from Berlin is one of the most famous computer scientists in Deutschald (imago stock & people)

Constanze Kurz is one of the most famous computer scientists in Germany. She is spokeswoman for the Chaos Computer Club, was an expert at the Federal Constitutional Court and in the inquiry commission "Internet and digital society" of the German Bundestag.

As a computer science student, Constanze Kurz was quite an exception, especially at the beginning of her studies. Often she was alone among men in lectures with only two or three other women:

"There were individual courses where we were sometimes more. So I was even in a small work group where we were two women. But later, as a lecturer, I also had seminars where not a single student was there."

After her time as a university lecturer, Constanze Kurz turned her back on teaching a few years ago. Today she works mainly as an editor and book author.

The fact that, after studying computer science, women look for a field of work that is not directly related to computer science does not seem to be atypical. This is also observed by the women's spokesperson Ursula Köhler from the Society for Computer Science. She describes the example of a woman who had a good position in a large company in the IT sector. This got

"Always getting tasks for which she was actually too highly qualified:" She felt that her professional competence was not recognized in the whole world. And then at some point she said, 'I've had enough,' and she went into an area where she did more journalistic work. That's a fairly common way that women tend to go into the softer aspects of the profession. "

Grit Kohlmann doesn't want that. On the contrary. The Berliner is already an engineer for print and media technology. And she wanted to gain further qualifications in the direction of IT with the support of her employer. But some colleagues and superiors frowned and asked:

"What do you want with programming? What do you want to do with Java? What do you want with it? You don't need that here. And so a lot of things are ironed out. It is just often smiled at. Not taken seriously. And I think secretly many have also a bit afraid that women are simply more clever with them and maybe also more far-sighted. "

Quota and qualification

Grit Kohlmann is not alone with this assessment. A recently published study by the AllBright Foundation shows, among other things: Men tend to prefer and encourage men. The foundation is committed to more women and diversity in management positions in business.

Grit Kohlmann has since left her employer and is now studying media informatics online - OSMI for short - at the Brandenburg University of Technology, which is part of the Virtual University of Applied Sciences:

"I then switched to the OSMI course because it simply gives me the flexibility that I would not have with face-to-face courses."

Flexibility and the possibility of self-organization are important to Grit Kohlmann; she has two school-age children. Other women apparently also find this aspect attractive: Compared to other universities, the quota of women in the computer science courses of the virtual university network is in any case higher - in some cases by more than ten percent.

Bringing work and family under one roof - that is important for many women. A lack of childcare and inflexible working hours are therefore likely to be important factors in why the number of women in the IT industry is so low.

Supervisory board member Simone Menne:

"If you actually have more pressure in Germany than a woman to look after your family, then of course a home office is an effective means. Whereas in Spain, in Sweden, it is quite normal that all women work and that they have childcare It is not a problem if you are not there during the day and only actually take care of your child in the evening. "

Role models for young women

Simone Menne appeals to politics: Everything that keeps women away from demanding jobs must be tackled. A thorn in her side are, among other things, the splitting of the spouse and the mother's pension. She also calls on women to join forces:

"It works well for women if they have role models on the one hand and other women with whom they can exchange ideas on the other," says Menne. "From my point of view, we have to create opportunities there too. There is now a lot more than in the past that women who are interested in it have a platform to exchange ideas with other women."

And we need role models that girls and young women can use as a guide. Such a young woman - at the very top and a role model - is Fränzi Kühne. In 2008, she recognized the signs of the times, broke off her law degree and founded the digital agency "Torben, Lucie and the Yellow Hazard", TLGG for short, which advises companies on matters of digitization, among other things.

At the age of only 34, Fränzi Kühne became a member of the supervisory board of the telecommunications company Freenet. For a while she was Germany's youngest member of the supervisory board.

"One of the reasons I accepted to be on the Supervisory Board of Freenet was to be a role model for young women," says Kühne. "I want to show women that you don't have to be 50 to get into top positions. You don't have to wear business costumes. And that's why I do it. That is definitely one of the main reasons."

Fränzi Kühne, Dorothee Bär, Ursula Köhler, Constanze Kurz, Simone Menne: They all want to encourage and motivate young women to choose a career in business, IT and research. If in doubt, women's quotas could also help:

"I was always against a quota for women," says Fränzi Kühne. "Because it feels so unnatural and I am told quite often that you came to this position as a quota woman. And that is total nonsense because Freenet decided to do so. Of course they have to meet the quota, but they have me brought in because they want digitization competence and someone who knows it. And that is the main reason and not because there is a women's quota. "

They have been around in Germany since 2016 - at least for supervisory boards. In the case of new appointments, companies of a certain size must achieve a quota of women of 30 percent. If no suitable candidates are found, the positions will remain vacant.

Dorothee Bär also fought for the quota. However, she would prefer this compulsion to be superfluous:

"It's not nice, but it is necessary and as long as it is not a matter of course and as long as we make up over half of the population, but cannot sit at the table everywhere, we need the whole thing for as long as nothing works with voluntariness."

Quotas can help increase the proportion of women. However, if too few women opt for technical training or a degree in computer science right from the start, the selection of possible candidates remains small. So something has to change beforehand.

Experts call for girls to be enthusiastic about IT topics even in elementary school (imago / Westend61)

Parents and teachers have a duty

Simone Menne appeals to politics:

"We have to change the pension model so that every woman has to work for her own pension. Then she also works and does not, in quotation marks, have the pressure of having to choose between family and career in case of doubt."

The CSU politician Dorothee Bär wants to start with school education - this is the key to getting more women into IT and IT:

"If we don't start doing it in elementary schools, then the whole thing won't work because you also pick up the girls where they are very interested. If you only start at 13 or 14 - digitization is the latest Instagram -Filter. But then it's no longer about technical understanding. "

The computer scientist Ursula Köhler sees politicians, teachers, educators, but also parents have an obligation. Girls should be encouraged to use their potential for the MINT subjects - and not just in kindergarten, school and at the beginning of their studies:

"You can only question your own stereotypes and prejudices again and again. For me it really starts in the family that both genders rethink their roles and change their role behavior."

Getting women excited about IT: This is also a strategy in times of skills shortages. But it is also about the female perspective in future industries such as the development of artificial intelligence, in short: AI.

Female and male perspectives

The World Economic Forum examined the proportion of women in the field of AI. The result: only 22 percent of AI professionals worldwide are women.In Germany it is only 16 percent - even though, according to the study, Germany is the country with the third highest number of AI researchers and developers.

The lack of a female perspective in the development of artificial intelligence and other highly innovative technologies could lead to inequalities and discrimination becoming entrenched in the algorithms, write the authors of the study by the World Economic Forum. Among other things, male perspectives in particular would find their way into programs.

The authors of the study write that it must be ensured

"That new AI systems serve the needs of society in general. It is crucial to reverse these trends at this early stage of professional development for innovative sectors and to ensure that Artificial Intelligence is an area that is inherently inclusive." . "

Integrative by nature: That sounds like a big goal for the IT industry. In the long term, however, it is unlikely to be possible to forego the labor and creativity of women in IT.