Women in Tech: “Diversity is always an asset”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Three 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 Anke Sperger, internal sales representative at Axis Communications GmbH.
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?
Three 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 Anke Sperger, internal sales representative at Axis Communications GmbH.
Today’s Woman in Tech: Anke Sperger, internal sales representative at Axis Communications GmbH
Since studying was out of the question for me, I decided to train as a data technology assistant (DTA) at Siemens. My actual goal was to program. Unfortunately, there was no possibility for me to do this after my apprenticeship and I started as a technical assistant at a small system house. After about 1.5 years I changed to the distribution department in the sales office and found out that I like sales in combination with technical consulting and that I really enjoy it. Later I worked in distribution as a product manager for various network manufacturers. After a few years, I moved to Axis on the manufacturer side, where I still work in the sales office.
When did you become interested in technology?
At that time, my brother had awakened my interest in IT, and even at school, I took it as my elective subject. Dealing with computers has always been very easy for me. After finishing secondary school, it was clear to me that I wanted to do a job in the IT industry. And that’s how it turned out.
In order to get more girls interested in IT, it is necessary to start at an early age.
Do you have a role model?
A good friend from my training period is a wonderful role model for me. After training as a DTA, she made up her high school diploma and graduated with an excellent degree in electrical engineering, even though she worked part-time on the side. As a woman, she worked her way through an extremely male-dominated field and is now very successful in her profession.
What prejudices and obstacles have you already encountered with regard to “Women in Tech”?
When dealing with colleagues or business partners, I very rarely encounter clichés. When it does come up, it’s more likely to be with new customers who don’t know me yet. A sentence such as: “That’s great that you as a woman are so well versed in technology.” I’m sure people mean that as a compliment, but for me, as a woman, such statements are rather negative.
However, there has already been a specific case with a female colleague where a customer asked for a male consultant in the first interview. And that had nothing to do with the technical competence of my colleague.
Of course, there were one or two challenges. But they would not have distracted me from my goals or pushed me to take a different path.
Should there be more women in the tech industry?
I think technical professions are unfortunately still seen as classic “male professions”. In order to get more girls interested in IT, it is necessary to start at an early age. Here I still see a lot of potential for improvement.
In my opinion, diversity is always an asset, regardless of whether we are talking about gender or different cultures. I think that women generally have a different view of the world than men in many areas. For example, they often approach tasks and challenges differently. For this reason alone, a mixed working environment promotes innovation within a department or company much more. After all, everyone benefits from this.
I can only motivate girls not to be put off: If they have enough motivation, they can do any job in the tech industry as well as men.
The discussion on diversity is gathering momentum. How long will it be before we see results of the current debate?
When you see how the image of women in the Western world has developed over the last 100 years, I am confident that diversity will be a matter of course for future generations. We have come a long way today, but unfortunately, we have not yet reached 100% equality.
I also very much hope that countries that still live by the old image of women will follow suit. I find it shocking that some women are still regarded as second-class citizens.
What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?
I can only motivate girls not to be put off: If they have enough motivation, they can do any job in the tech industry as well as men. If you do your job well and conscientiously, all doors are open to you, no matter what gender you are!
More Women in Tech:
- Women in Tech: “Equal pay; less gendering, more mentoring”
- Women in Tech: “Join meetups and other women tech groups”
- Women in Tech: “Degrees can matter but they aren’t required”
- Women in Tech: “The IT sector requires a lot of energy and will”
- Women in Tech: “I got to be a self-taught, self-managed, problem solver”