Making progress on tech’s diversity problem: A female founder’s take on the current situation
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Last year, we 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 Sabrina Spielberger, founder and CEO of digidip.
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?
Last year, we 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 Sabrina Spielberger, founder and CEO of digidip.
Sabrina Spielberger, founder and CEO of digidip
Sabrina Spielberger is the founder of Berlin-based digidip. Within the last four years, the affiliate network has developed into the market leader for premium content monetisation. digidip is represented in over 40 countries and is the world’s leading private meta-network for monetisation and performance analysis.
The idea to found the start-up came to Sabrina after a fashion blogger could not find a satisfactory option to monetize her content effectively and easily. Today, her meta-network comprises 95 networks and 40,000 web retailers. digidip connects 3 million users a day to well-known online shops.
What got you interested in technology?
I got interested in technology the minute we had access to computers. First, it was my brother’s room, where I was not supposed to touch the PC, but years later, when my school finally introduced us to PCs with internet which we were also allowed to use after school, I immediately got hooked and spent a lot of time online. I wasn’t as curious about how websites were built but more about who were the people behind them, what kind of education do they have, are they my age, can they make a living with it etc.
After I graduated, I started working for a tech company which was run by super young people, the company was focused on display advertising and I was supposed to sell those banners and popups internationally since they wanted to become known beyond the German-speaking market. While working there, I noticed that more and more advertisers were longing for content marketing more than display, they thought it’s less damaging for their brand to be recommended by bloggers than to slap banners in users’ faces all over the web. When I founded digidip, which is focused on content monetization only, I had a hard time separating myself from the previous business, I was still known as the girl who sold intrusive ads and it took a while until business partners realized that I’m onto something more innovative and discreet.
I was old enough not to ask for permission about what my career path should be and I listened to my instinct as well as to people that I trusted back then and knew they would warn me if they thought it’s completely useless. In general, everyone supported me or let’s say just let me do what I think I needed to do at that time. But my role model today is definitely my husband, he is the kind of entrepreneur and leader I look up to – smart with a great portion of integrity.
I’m pretty straight-forward when it comes to setting my mind on something and just go for it. Of course, my parents always wanted me to do something ‘safe’ but I knew that playing it safe would not satisfy me.
A day in Sabrina’s job
Currently, I’m the CEO of my own company. My day starts with checking Skype, Slack, and e-mails in the morning and after that each day is different. It’s a mix of meetings with key partners or having calls, sitting down with my teams to evaluate situations and talk about next steps, getting into my tunnel of numbers and strategies, then brainstorming new models and features with different stakeholders in my company – so it’s never boring.
I’m very proud that I’m able to work with the smartest people in the industry.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
I think it’s because the idea of tech companies was mainly sold as a male world, although I see every day more and more women entering tech – we are getting there! But the reason why there are less female founders in tech is definitely the inequality when it comes to receiving capital from investors, they simply love to invest more into startups run by men than companies run by women. It’s highly unfair but unfortunately now a fact according to a current study.
Just the fact that there is more attention in public and from the media shows that we are on the right track. Today we have more social events and projects focused on female empowerment and diversity than ever before. When I started my company, there was almost none of that or I just wasn’t aware, because media did not report on it. But today I see young women in tech feeling more empowered to set foot and make their mark, we will definitely see more of that over the next couple of years.
Women in STEM
If more women worked in STEM, we would finally turn the image around that STEM is a male-dominated industry, which intimidates young girls to enter, which also results in a small pool of talents that we can profit from. It’s obvious, the more talent applies, the higher the odds for improving the quality of a workforce. And since it’s all about innovation and development in the end, this should be the no-brainer approach.
Something I think of immediately is that men are very comfortable in the tech space and already have their “Boys Club” which is hard for a woman to enter, especially in the beginning when you are a nobody. Obviously, in my industry, it’s important to keep close contact with people, even become drink buddies with them. Pretty sure it’s like that in any other industry as well, but it’s tougher when it’s a male-dominated one.
Tips & tricks
First of all, no matter what career in tech you want to advance in, make sure to keep improving your skills. Since tech is always evolving, find out what skills are needed the most and learn them; this gain in knowledge and experience will also give you a confidence boost, which you can use to either go for the promotion you want or the next step in your career somewhere else or maybe even start your own company.
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
- “Many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend”
- “Many companies lack the infrastructure & career growth opportunities to support female employees”
- “Diverse teams can help prevent unhealthy competition that occurs sometimes in male-dominated teams”
- How to succeed in tech: Testlio’s Kristel Kruustük shares her tips
- “As the tech field becomes cloud-based, the flexibility and remote work culture will grow”
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from Atlassian’s Molly Hellerman
- Diversity talk: “Women should not be herded into a career to meet quotas”
- “The tech industry can move even faster by increasing the diversity of talent”
- Diversity talk: Even if your team is not very diverse, what matters is that they value you
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Always be curious
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from GitLab’s Barbie Brewer
- Diversity talk: Tips from Lisk’s Gina Contrino on how to succeed in tech
- “The combination of tech IQ and people EQ can set you apart in the tech world”
- “Mentorship, acceptance, and trust are really important in fostering gender diversity in the workplace”
- The tech industry is not solely responsible for pushing gender diversity
- “There isn’t enough clarity on what it means to work in tech and to be a woman in tech”
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Become comfortable with change
- Diversity in the AI world & how imposter syndrome is vital!
- “Even if women decide to work as developers because they are passionate and qualified, they are sometimes treated like diversity hires”
- “We need fewer WiT luncheons and more women coding & deploying projects side by side with men”
- Diversity talk: How to overcome challenges in the workplace
- “We need to increase the awareness of the benefits and challenges of diversity”
- Diversity talk: The biggest obstacle we currently face is the idea that equality is here already
- How to succeed in tech: “Go ahead and do it. This is a great option for women”
- “I think the topic of diversity is viewed very narrowly to only mean race or gender”
- Breaking the mold: “Women are not solely responsible for solving the diversity challenge”
- How to succeed in tech: Katerina Skroumpelou gives her tips
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Ana Cidre shares her tips & tricks
- Diversity talk: “We need to ditch the idea that women don’t love their careers as much as men do”
- How to succeed in tech: Samantha Quiñones gives her tips
- Diversity talk: People who act as gatekeepers in the tech community are part of the problem
- How to succeed in tech: Tzofia Shiftan shares her tips
- Diversity talk: “Tech is one of the most flexible and evolving industries that can work in women’s favor”
- Diversity talk: “If you want to advance, make it known and be persistent. You’ll need a thick skin”
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Sherry List shares her tips & tricks
- How to win the diversity battle: “Well behaved women rarely make history”
- Diversity talk: “When dealing with challenges, it is not a time to be depressed or let self-doubt engulf you”
- How to win the diversity battle: “The tech industry is not as bad as it sounds”
- How to succeed in tech: Áine Mulloy gives her tips
- “Having more women in management roles can and will create a safe place for other women to flourish”