Women in Tech: “We need pervasive role models to show that we’re not the exception”
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 Anna-Maria Schaum, Head of Business Intelligence & Controlling at MyHammer.
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 Anna-Maria Schaum, Head of Business Intelligence & Controlling at MyHammer.
Our Women in Tech today: Anna-Maria Schaum
Anna-Maria Schaum is the Head of Business Intelligence & Controlling at MyHammer. Together with her team, she is responsible for all tasks related to data analysis, and visualization. She has been with MyHammer since 2012, and has held the management position since 2014. What is so special: She is a mother of two children and works part-time. Prior to her current engagement, Anna-Maria Schaum worked for SAP, and Coca-Cola, among others. Prior to this, she studied Business Administration with a focus on Controlling and Corporate Management, at the TU Berlin.
What got you interested in technology?
I’ve been a number freak fairly early on, but I wasn’t aware of that, until a few years ago, when I last moved, and stumbled across some old notes. I had documented my income from math tuition. At this sight, it became clear to me that even then I had already done in a very rudimentary form what I still love today: dealing with numbers. Whether it is first recording them, and making them then evaluable, or drawing the right conclusions from data.
My direct superiors have always been very supportive of me, both men.
After all, I studied Business Administration at the TU Berlin. My focus was on Operational and Strategic Controlling, as well as Organization and Corporate Management. After my studies, I worked as a Junior Analyst at Coca-Cola and worked my way up to becoming Team Lead. I joined MyHammer as Senior Controller and I was allowed to return after my parental leave as Head of Business Intelligence & Controlling.
A day in Anna-Maria’s life
In my position, I am primarily responsible for managing the resources in my team, as well as taking on the different requirements of all stakeholders, and prioritizing them for implementation. And in return, my team takes care of all the company’s data needs. I haven’t even developed anything yet, but I’m still young 😉
Do you have any role models? Are there supporters?
My direct superiors — both men 🙂 I don’t have a definite role model, but I admire all women, who manage to keep the balance between family and career. That was actually the biggest challenge for me so far.
Fortunately, nobody put obstacles in my way. Quite the opposite: My career has always been indirectly steered by others, who saw more in me than I would have thought I was capable of.
Obstacles along the way? Yay or Nay?
After completing my studies, I was invited to the career counselling service of the Employment Agency. I was told quite frankly that I would never make a career as a woman, as I will soon have children anyway. As a freshly graduated university graduate, you have to imagine that.
In my team today, we actually have an equal number of employees, even though I didn’t work specifically towards that goal. Even though we had to fill vacancies in my area, the proportion of female applicants was quite high. I think the hurdles are not necessarily a tech topic, but rather of a more general nature: As a woman, you still fight against the usual prejudices today: “She will surely get pregnant soon”, “She has children, they are surely often ill”.
What we need above all are role models that are pervasive, and not exceptions that confirm the rule
And yet, I fear that the debate about women in the tech industry will continue to occupy us for a very long time to come. Certain stereotypes are still so deeply rooted in education today, and above all unconsciously, that it is difficult to attack them. My five-year-old son says that women don’t drive as well, and pink is a “girl’s color”, I certainly didn’t “teach” him that, but it’s still there.
What does the Future hold?
If more and more women will work in tech, the more natural it will become. What we need above all are role models that are pervasive, and not exceptions that confirm the rule. For the employer, the question of whether to hire a woman or not, because she might could get pregnant, mustn’t ever arise.
For women who want to enter the tech industry, I have the advice that you really shouldn’t let anyone fool you. Do what you like best!
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- Women in Tech: Lisa Mo Wagner — “The most important thing when starting out is to be more self confident”
- Tips for Women in Tech: Andrea Pretorian — “Setbacks and ‘failures’ are really learning opportunities”
- Women in Tech: Swarali Karkhani — “Women in tech should try to step out of their comfort zone more and speak up more often without having imposter syndrome.”
- Women in Tech: Netta Doron — “Drawn to technology like a moth to a flame”
- Diversity talk: “You can’t be afraid of failure. If you don’t try, you will never succeed”