“Many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Dominika Czajak, CMO at Spacebase.
Is tech a boys-only club? So it seems. But the light of smart and powerful women is finally shining bright. We root for excellence and justice and, above all, we want meritocracy to win. This is our way of giving women in tech a shout-out.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Women in Tech — The Survey
We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!
Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.
Without further ado, we would like to introduce Dominika Czajak, CMO at Spacebase.
Dominika Czajak, CMO at Spacebase
What got you interested in technology?
Technology is shaping the world. We are living in a digital age, where technologies are transforming our views, our behavior and habits. It is essential for us to understand what drives it. Already as a child, I have been looking up to people that have enables technical solutions that simplify processes and improve our lives.
It’d be a lie to say that I had a set plan from the start. Originally, I wanted to study architecture, so during the last year of high school I enrolled into pre-bachelor course, but soon realized that I am way more passionate about technical problems and construction than design. At the end of the course, I was really unsure if this was the right direction for me — and failed the entry exam. To avoid having a gap year, I started with business engineering and got hooked on it. After graduation, I decided to combine my technical skills with creative work and over time learned that marketing is what I like: understanding customer needs with the help of data supported by technology and translating it back into powerful and effective campaigns.
Is it any harder as a women to become a CMO? I believe it is but I can see that changes are happening and that we are moving in the right direction.
Nobody in my close circles has ever worked in the tech industry so I couldn’t count on much guidance. Obviously, that changed after my studies. I had decided to start my career in a different field than IT, but the vast majority of my female friends that I met at the University are now working in programming. And they love it! My family and friends always supported my decisions, which also made it easier for me to try out things, to shift my focus and risk uncertain decisions. I don’t have particular role models; I get inspired by both males and females that stand up for their ideals and defy stereotypes connected to their background, gender or sexuality.
A day in Dominika’s life
My work is very diverse. There really is no such thing as a typical workday for me. Working with a creative team, I am more involved into building the strategy, its implementation and the analysis of end results. Our last focus was growth loops that incorporate not only online, but also offline marketing.
What I enjoy most about my job is the intersection of technology and creativity within the sharing economy, which, in my personal opinion, is the right approach to solving structural and social problems of the way business has been done in the past. That is why I decided to join Spacebase before its launch. We are a Berlin-based startup and rent out unique meeting and workshop rooms that inspire people to be more radical and innovative.
Most frustrating is that the majority of people who think it’s amazing that I became CMO are other women.
I have enjoyed the journey that I’ve made so far. There will always be individuals who don’t take you seriously or simply do not believe in your potential. It wasn’t ever the case that somebody actively told me that I wasn’t capable of doing something but there have always been people that made it clear that I did not fit their expectation. Even little things can be just as frustrating because they made me question again and again if I was doing the right thing. But that’s the case also for man-to-man relations. What’s frustrating me is people that are telling me how amazing they think it is that I became a CMO. Most frustrating is that the majority of them are other women.
I am only at the beginning of my career, there is a lot to come. So far, I am most proud of having managed to push Spacebase this far. That’s not only due to right business decisions, but also because of our great team. We have all managed to build an environment at work without gender or age gaps, and that works well. Other than that? Staying on the right path to not give up to settle for less than what I thought I could achieve.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
When I started my studies in Poland, female students were a clear minority in class. But I also still remember one particular day from my Studies in Business Engineering in Denmark. In my first class — Lego Robot Lab —, we had to program the robot to make it follow the line while avoiding obstacles. There were around 20 female students and only three male students.
I don’t think women are per se less attracted to tech, at least not computer science. But the stereotypes associated with that field have a big impact. One of the stereotypes is that computer scientists are all nerds that look at digits on their screens 24/7, are obsessed with them and want nothing more in their lives but computers. Imagining this kind of studies and peers scares many women, it sounds boring and depressing to be “part of this”. Therefore, what needs to change is that early education must not leave space for such assumptions. My studies were fun and yes, I also had a private life outside of numbers and coding.
Diversity holds advantages for all parties involved.
Many companies are trying harder now to explicitly recruit women. But many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend and that it holds advantages for all parties involved. And that it’s not enough to blame others. All of us need to fight the roots of the problem and make the first step.
The most important thing is — as I already mentioned — early education. It is our responsibility to convince teens that the norms they associate with tech might be wrong. To overcome cultural and societal barriers we should boycott products and services that endorse stereotypes in our everyday life. It is encouraging to see that over the last couple of years, women have become more self-confident. It is important to remember that it is on us to be the change we want to see. To speak up when we feel unfairly treated and to help others reach their full potential, no matter if in tech or any other business.
One of the very real challenges is that people tend to trust more those who are similar to them. That means that founders who have studied tech in a predominantly male environment and work in companies that are dominated by males are more likely to hire other men when starting their own business. It’s a circle.
I don’t think there is a general mistrust against women. For example, from my personal experience, few people ever doubt my creativity skills because, for some reason, those are considered a more female quality. But what recruiters have always been very skeptical about are my IT skills, even though they are definitely my strong suit.
There have been numerous studies that have proven that diverse workforces amount for better performance and greater decision making processes, which fits my experience at Spacebase. Apart from these business-related factors, I am also convinced that getting more women to work in tech will result in a little shift as far as products and services are concerned.
Culturally, seeing more women in leading positions in companies and on managerial boards will help and inspire young girls to dare to independently take their careers into the direction they want instead of letting society make that decision for them.
Tips & tricks
I want to encourage each and every female to not be afraid of the challenges that may lay ahead of them. Every young woman needs to trust her gut feeling and work in the field that interests her most.
From a tech perspective, I am convinced that there is still a lot of potential for new solutions because female visions and ideas are still scarce in many industries. With each woman that decides to follow her heart and pull through, another barrier on the road to equality gets torn down.
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- “Technology reflects the people who make it”
- “In the right company, working in tech is a great career”
- Why women fall out of the tech pipeline
- Breaking the mold: ‘It’s not that you’re good — it’s that you’re female’
- How to avoid the culture of male programmers
- Creating an equal playing field is about more than just teaching someone coding skills
- The more women you see in STEM, the less intimidating it is for others to join
- The tech industry tends to lose women along the way. Change is underway
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Tips & tricks for women
- Transitioning into a tech career? Silicon Valley culture is one of the biggest initial obstacles
- Abby Kearns: “Diversity ensures continuous innovation”
- “In technology, you become a lifelong learner — More women should embrace this career”
- Cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity
- Everyday superheroes: “I don’t have a role model, my career was based on my mistakes”
- Diversity talk: For tech, it’s less about a pipeline problem and more of a marketing problem
- Diversity talk: It’s important to receive support from tech communities
- Everyday superheroes: Women just need to see more of us — techie women
- Anyone who wants to learn and grow won’t continue in an industry that tells them they are stupid
- There is too much allowance for tolerating toxic people in tech
- Coding myths and how finding communities like Hear Me Code helps you learn best
- 3 strategies to try out if you want to support women in tech
- Young women carry less career gender bias and more media influence
- Women are often pigeonholed into “soft skill” roles and pushed away from engineering
- Diversity talk: Many women suffer from the impostor syndrome
- How to succeed in tech: Shutterstock’s Rashi Khurana gives her tips
- Diversity talk: Using lingo is making tech sound harder than it really is
- Diversity talk: “We can’t expect men to hand us equality on a silver platter”
- How to succeed in tech: Agnès Crepet gives her tips