Women in Tech: “I don’t believe in structural discrimination”
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 Frederike Busch, Marketing Director at esome.
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 Frederike Busch, Marketing Director at esome.
Our Women in Tech: Frederike Busch
Frederike Busch is a Marketing Manager at esome. In her position she is responsible for the corporation’s communication, strategy, and also the event planning for the Digital and Media Outcome Manager, which was founded in 2015 in Hamburg.
What got you interested in technology?
I had my first contact with tech during my studies. Almost by sheer chance, I studied technical business management, but the idea to supplement business studies and marketing with subjects such as business informatics, materials science and processing science, design, and so forth, was very exciting. The most exciting part of the business informatics lectures was the all-encompassing logic to everything, and that you also had to finish everything you started. This insight into such subjects and the systematics, which are behind everything that still helps me in my everyday work.
The path to my current job was paved with coincidences, a stroke of luck, and open-endedness. After considering studies such as Ecotrophology and Interior Design during my 12th school year, I eventually applied to study Psychology at several Universities, but only received rejections. Sufficiently disorientated and trying to fool myself, I then moved to Hamburg, a few weeks after I graduated from high school. To bridge the time gap until the start of the next winter semester, where you could apply for many more studies, I started to study Business Management with a focus on marketing and technology. I happened to like this “bridge-study” so much that I did not just finish it but also made my Masters Degree on top of it. By working different jobs, I was able to gain experience during my studies: I worked as a tutor, a waitress, and a hat-saleswoman. I was as a student employee for a B2C (Business to Consumer) start-up and a B2C medium-sized company, and I also worked in a medical technology group.
I think everyone encounters challenging situations in their lives, but I think few of them were actively created by someone to stop someone else.
It was another rejection, which I received during an application process after my Masters Degree, which was decisive for my further path: I applied for a position in a media agency – and although they found my application interesting, they could not say the same about my resume. It was unfitting for the position I applied for, but this was my lucky break. They contacted esome and it was love at first sight! I started to work for esome three months after their founding as a campaign manager and customer support. However, I was able to come to a settlement with the managing directors – I would invest a part of my time in esome’s corporate marketing, which did not have a lot of supervision in such a short time after its founding. And so, little by little, I delved deeper into the subject. Today, I am supervising corporate marketing full-time, and work on many exciting projects together with three great colleagues, and one of our business executives. To make a long story short: I never pursued a fixed career plan, but rather seized opportunities when they presented themselves and listened to my gut – and I am quite happy about that nowadays.
A day in Frederike’s life
I manage corporate marketing at esome, a company that uses proprietary technology to harmonize access to all social networks and programmatic inventories. The company uses this access to drive results-driven advertising campaigns in the appropriate environments. My area of responsibility includes the management of marketing communication (PR, content marketing, events, social, and website) as well as increasingly more of the strategic marketing for esome. Planning the communicative topics and sparring with my colleagues, who implement these topics operationally, normally determines my everyday life. Recently, we repositioned and redesigned the esome brand — an unusual project that I was allowed to manage, and which took up a lot of my time.
Do you have any role models? Are there supporters?
The number of people who supported me is quite high! Teachers, professors, bosses, trainers, choir masters, colleagues, friends, and my family — I could count several people, who I learned from, and who challenged, and supported me. I consider myself very fortunate to have so many people with these qualities in my life, and a lot of them became my role models. My greatest role model is my best friend, who shows me time and time again that the true zest for life can prevail against numerous setbacks and calamities. Outside of my social environment, I’m enthusiastically following the work of Brené Brown, a researcher from the US, who is studying the social interaction and effects of our feelings, especially shame and vulnerability. Her research even finds application in the field of technology: Several Silicon Valley companies hired Brown to spur the creativity and innovative power of their employees. They had to learn that both of these things are only possible if the employee is willing to become vulnerable.
Did anyone ever try to stop you?
No! I believe everyone will face challenging situations in their lives, but I think that only a few of them were actively created by someone to stop someone else. There have been many situations in my career that have slowed me down or forced me to take detours, but I am happy about each one because they have taken me to where I am now.
What are you most proud of in your career?
When we talk about “developing” in terms of programming, I remember a university project in which we built a website; that’s anything but newsworthy. More interesting, however, is the development of our new brand: esome was launched in 2014 as a social advertising specialist who, using its own technology has created a harmonized access to the advertising possibilities of social networks. We didn’t just expand our inventory portfolio beyond social networks, but we also changed our perspective on digital marketing. Programmatic advertising environments offer the ideal conditions to pursue campaign goals that go beyond impressions and clicks.
They make a real contribution in achieving overarching marketing goals. We are convinced that this type of advertising campaign implementation is the future. This is the reason why we developed esome from a social advertising expert to a media outcome manager, with a new logo, new brand design, and new brand messages. The journey was exciting, sometimes bumpy, with some dead ends and detours, but in the end we created a design that gives room for the important things and reflects what has never changed during our journey so far: We are consultants, who make life easier for advertisers and agencies, no matter how complex the world is they or we operate in.
I think the diversity debate is important because it can show us that there is a lot of potential in the differences that shape us and that they can really enrich us.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
All I can give you here is conjecture: I believe that the required skills in the tech industry are more associated with male attributes than with female ones. As a rule, women are considered to be creative and person-oriented, while men are more likely attributed with objectivity and logic. Due to this classification, it is possible that women do not even consider apprenticeships and professions in the tech sector for themselves. I don’t believe in a kind of structural discrimination. For me, the most obvious explanations for an unbalanced relationship between men and women in tech professions are socialization and the possibility that tech professions may not be so much fun for women. There are some areas in which, conversely, significantly more women than men work. This is certainly partly caused by socialization and can therefore also be changed, but the fact that women and men have different interests and affinities cannot be completely dismissed.
When I encounter clichés or stereotypes about women in tech, they usually give the impression that these women deviate from the female norm. I don’t think this is only very critical in relation to Women in Tech: The human mind is geared to recognizing patterns and needs constructs, such as mental drawers, into which it can put people to efficiently process information. These natural processes lead to the emergence of arbitrary, implicit norms and people are evaluated on the basis of these norms. I am convinced that it is our responsibility to undermine these processes of our mind as often as possible because they are the cornerstone of prejudices, misunderstandings, condemnations, envy and much more. As much as it helps to be able to quickly assess and classify our counterpart, these automatisms often prevent us from dealing with the individual in an unbiased way.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
In principle, greater diversity in a working environment can be expected to result in more diverse, creative, and mature solutions because many different perspectives are considered. Different approaches are tried out and the friction created by differences produces better results. Achieving greater diversity is therefore economically advantageous and can be promoted, for example, by increasing the proportion of women. The advantages of a larger proportion of women can also be expected if women are structurally better at things than men. This is usually the case, for example, with emotional issues and, as we can see from the example of Brené Brown, can be advantageous in areas such as creativity and innovation. Women might be able to emphasize the importance of feelings in a professional context as it is becoming increasingly clear that feelings also influence and control our professional life.
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?
I think the diversity debate is important because it can show us that there is a lot of potential in the differences that shape us. These differences can really enrich us. I hope the debate about the benefits of diversity, and the debate about eliminating prejudice never ends, but I don’t need a debate about diversity at any price. To artificially create or force diversity for its own sake does not seem to me to be the right thing to do. Let us take the example of the women’s quota for supervisory boards: I think that a supervisory board consisting of capable and willing persons is more desirable than a supervisory board consisting of persons who are members due to quotas, or also due to relationships, or politics. I understand the good intention behind the approach, but I take a critical view of a women’s quota to the extent that there is a great danger that the performance of a “quota woman” can never really be recognised. The quota alone supposedly made her a member of the group and she is therefore not perceived as an efficient part of the group. I would like to see a world in which groups and systems are made up of people who, because of their personality and ability, belong to this group or system and are accepted into it.
Tips & Tricks
I never considered a technical profession for myself, because I did not associate technical professions with creativity. Creativity was always supposed to be a part of my professional life. In the meantime, I have learned that you can find more creativity here than you would initially expect, and I would perhaps make a different decision today.
So my advice is: Always be curious and never stop learning because otherwise, you’ll miss the chance to lose your heart to something fulfilling.
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”