Veronica Chiaravalli is a successful, influential woman working in Sweden, creating her own company Emerging Technologies which is pivoted around innovation. She concentrates and works on exponential and developing technologies, and addresses the impact on society in Sweden if the gender gap is not solved on time.
The pace of technology is accelerating and the need for specialist skills is increasing, especially for engineers and professionals who have built up decent skills in cyber security, not forgetting the ever-increasing demand developers for virtual reality which is taking a lot of shape this year. But what does this all mean for women aspiring to be successful in Sweden?
1. What trends have you noticed with women working in tech roles over the past few years in Sweden?
In the past few years I have noticed that big companies and even a very important law firm in Stockholm have contributed to solving the gender gap by supporting Swedish non-profit companies with their events. I have also noticed an increase in start-ups targeting the gender gap. Nevertheless, we are still lacking female founders and this is something last year I highlighted. I have also observed that foreign women living in Sweden need more support.
I can also add that there is a huge need to raise awareness on the consequences of the gender gap and how a change of mind-set has to take place. It is a whole ecosystem that should be changed.
During my research and studies in technology entrepreneurship and particularly the gender gap I came across articles about how big companies like Microsoft, Google, etc. have been focusing on solving the gender gap. I'm talking about facts, statistics, and dates. We are also facing problems to get into the labour market because companies are requiring several years of experience and with an existing gender gap, women have not been able to occupy certain roles like the ones in the gaming industry which at present is mainly dominated by men; this is worrying because VR is a huge market and it presents a great opportunity for women…
2. What is being done to encourage more women to work in tech?
I came across an article this year that said that the Swedish Government will be spending lots of money in education to help women. Meetups are holding free coding events as well, which gives everyone the opportunity to really improve their skills and network with like-minded professionals and individuals working in this space.
However, we are still lacking encouragement with jobs for people in the entry level of their careers where one could learn by doing. Maybe discounts for computers and computer programs could be a good idea; things should be easier and smoother for those passionate about doing well within their career. All the encouragement and help provided today could avoid millions if not billions of dollars if the problem is not addressed fast.
3. Being a successful woman in technology, what barriers have you overcome to get to where you are now?
The barriers I overcame were starting my company without capital and a job! I did not have money to buy robot kits for my first workshops so I used the money made from the registrations and then bought the robot kits. I had to take many challenges to solve problems like this meaning short deadlines, risks, etc. My old computer has been another problem and with the heavy programs I need to use it has been a challenge. Hopefully I will soon solve this soon as my career takes off.
4. How are the government helping to increase the amount of women working in powerful positions? What more can they do?
Governments move slower than entrepreneurs I have noticed. They have a slower system and are regulated by rules that take time to change. The first individuals to make changes are therefore the entrepreneurs who have the strong will to follow their goal no matter the challenges. Maybe they get funding and/or investment or maybe they don't. No matter who starts the changing process it's like a chain reaction that encourage, inspires, and leads the rest of the people.
I think things should move faster in Sweden and that more help should be given to the start-ups and especially those created by women. We need better training courses on new technologies, more courses on bookkeeping and marketing for today's needs, and more advice on intellectual rights and innovation. It's all moving very fast and everything is changing around us. This could be a bit discouraging or scary for small company owners, etc.
More women in tech would mean more innovation since this is something that happens when people that have different backgrounds, gender, etc. and work together. A country that cannot innovate fails to move forward. This is bad for everybody. All gaps should be avoided.
I think that there should be more women that are decision makers at companies. More women taking decisions when hiring people and not only men. A better system with a better UX design would be great!
The Government could raise awareness among companies and decision makers. They could educate them on the consequences of the gender gap and how we can all collaborate for a change.
5. What do you see happening in the future for women working in tech in Sweden and on a global scale?
I think women have to become more comfortable in taking challenges and becoming more interested in tech. They should not give up!
Tech is and will be a part of our lives but people are also important. We can build better products taking this into account.
In general, I see women occupying very high-level positions now in England and the US (Hillary Clinton). This is the trend I see is appearing. Regarding tech, I attend Meetups around the world about women in Virtual Reality.
In Sweden, more has to be done. It's not enough to address the gender gap with events, we still need job opportunities, more awareness from employers and companies.
6. Any closing thoughts?
In my case, doors are opening for me in the US. I think women have to work more together to make things happen in Sweden!
Want to learn more about the gender gap in Sweden and how we can change this? Connect with Veronica on LinkedIn for further updates or visit her website www.emergingtechnologies.com...