Women in Tech: “Diversity still has a long way to go”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Two years ago, 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 Stefanie Langner, co-founder of Leankoala.
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?
Two years ago, 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 Stefanie Langner, co-founder of Leankoala.
Today’s woman in tech: Stefanie Langner, co-founder of Leankoala.
Stefanie Langner has more than 10 years of experience in the web environment. Her passion for new technologies and digital innovations has been proven repeatedly and successfully ever since.
She started Leankoala // Web Monitoring and Testing as a Co-Founder in 2017 — a software solution with which websites can be monitored and tested easily and comprehensively. The ten-strong team operates from Hamburg and Cologne.
As CxO, Stefanie is primarily responsible for growth, finance, and organization at Leankoala. Born in Freiburg, she now lives in her adopted home of Hamburg and is the mother of two children.
What first got you interested in tech?
As a child of the 1980’s, the advent of the desktop PC was a real revelation for me. When they became more affordable, I pushed my parents until they saw reason and bought a computer. With it I found my way onto the internet, back when using the classic dial-up modem meant hours of blocking the telephone line – a real controversial topic, because it was also my parents’ business number…
Did you receive support from your family and friends?
I believe that the networks, especially the Geekettes, have really brought me forward. Here I had contact with other like-minded people for the first time, web development as a topic had a special connection with us.
A lot of things can be achieved in a community.
This also applies to the areas of products, UX/UI, and many more. The unconditional solidarity inspired and showed me that a lot of things can be achieved in a community.
A day in Stefanie’s Life
The route to my current job was pretty unusual. Originally, I was supposed to follow my parents footsteps into gastronomy – this path was mapped out a long time ago: First I got a business education, then I worked in the top hotel industry, and later on I studied International Hotel Management. Then 15 years ago I switched to the Digital Business at Immonet (which today is called Immowelt). At the same time I worked on building up my own company.
I am the co-founder of Leankoala and we have developed a SaaS solution that resumes the technical monitoring and testing of websites. Everything from uptime monitoring to the click distance.
My expertise isn’t software engineering itself, but rather business development. That also includes tasks from the areas of sales, marketing, and finance. All management processes come together at my company. For this reason alone, I want to understand how my product works. Therefore, I sometimes have parts of the code and certain functionalities shown and explained to me. I want to know what happens in the engine room.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
I fondly remember the statement by Füsun Wehrmann, who once told me how high the quota of women studying mathematics and computer science is in Turkey and how strongly girls are promoted in the STEM subjects, even at a primary school age.
It is self-evident for everyone there that girls and women are strong in these areas. We must reach that point, too.
We are missing role models.
Besides, we are missing role models. This is a personal concern of mine, which is why I encourage women — even beyond my personal network — to take advantage of speaking opportunities and to show themselves in general. This isn’t just good for yourself but will also come through to others and inspire them to follow your example.
Women in STEM
Diversity is good for every department. The more diverse a team is, the more solutions there are; different questions are asked and different consideration are taken. You get a bigger picture and can make better decisions. Also, things become lively and it never gets boring.
However, I think that diversity still has a long way to go. This makes it all the more important to keep the discourse going. And this also applies to issues beyond the gender issue: migration, disability, age — if we manage to find answers to social challenges in a civilized and forward-looking manner, then we are on the right track.
Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?
I have a feeling that as a woman, you’re much more likely to be challenged. You have to justify yourself or prove that you really know your business. I’ve never seen that among women.
It is extremely important to draw boundaries and stick to your goals.
If you prefer to set up a startup rather than get a permanent position with all the associated amenities, you are not always met with understanding. You quickly get caught up in a vortex of justification, which turns faster and faster with every well-meant piece of advice. Of course, this doesn’t pass you by without leaving a trace. In such moments it is enormously important to draw boundaries and hold on to your goals. A real game of patience, which demands a lot of strength. But in the end it is always worth it.
What advice would you give to women who want a career in tech?
Find networks, test yourself, and develop your own ideas — no matter how crazy they may be. The greatest innovators started small. Their success is mainly based on their stamina and imagination. If you add fun and inspiration, you can move mountains.
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- Women in Tech: Hanna Stacey – “Diversity drives innovation.”
- Women in tech: Danuta Florczyk – “Professional competence against inequality — a perfect tool”
- Women in tech: Lina Zubyte – “We are building so many biases into technology”
- Women in tech: Reema Poddar – “Women MUST promote and support their fellow women.”
- Women in tech: Sivan Nir – “You need to have passion and a thirst for learning.”
- Women in tech: Karen Hoyos – “Diversity should be represented at every level”
- Women in tech: Meghan Jordan – “Good products and good teams require empathy”