Still a need for female networks?
There is no silver bullet to drive gender balance. It is often asked for, but there is no such thing. Working hard to move the dial on gender balance, relentlessly for many, many years, I have a strong conviction. Actions speak louder than words. So is one concrete action still to create female networks or not. Sogeti´s Therese Sinter, passionate about gender balance for many years, shares her five cents in the matter.
Speaking of concrete actions that can help us reach a higher degree of gender balance in companies and organizations, ONE action can be to make sure there are networks for women where they can grow their own network, share knowledge, empower, and help each other to become more visible.
But is there still a need, in 2023, to have specific female networks, one might wonder? Shouldn’t there be more networks today where both women and men, believing in the importance of gender balance, can gather? I say absolutely, but one does not exclude the other. Who wants to join what network, regardless of the specified target group each network wants to attract, should be up to everyone to decide. Is this network interesting to me or not? That is the simple question to answer.
Growing a network
I am the proud Head of #addher, one of Sweden’s largest networks for women in IT and tech, open for all techy ladies across the country. The overall goal of our network #addher is to tirelessly attract more women to the IT industry and to make the women in our sector more visible and represented among all positions and roles within companies and organizations. #addher started in one location in Sweden already in 2010, initiated by Sogeti and since 2019 run in collaboration with Capgemini. Since the start, our network has continuously grown to over 7,000 members and expanded to 18 Swedish locations (in the top picture you see me with our two passionate #addher drivers in Karlstad, Elin Åberg and Emma Nicklasson). By the way, I love the passion with which all #addher drivers across Sweden engages into our network. They are my pride and joy.
So, do we really need more women in IT/Tech? Well, with 28 percent of women in our sector in Sweden there is work to be done and the booming opportunities in our forward-leaning sector screams for more people, women, and men. Our sector is a true land of opportunities.
Sweden as a country has so much to gain from being world-leading in the digital era. Digitalization is fundamental to our economic growth, to productivity and the power of innovation and not the least to become more sustainable.
We need to attract talent and secure the need for tech competence. According to Tech Sweden, a member organization for companies of all sizes within the tech sector, the need for new talent is acute, even stating that 70,000 IT specialists will be missing as early as 2024. Not managing to attract women to our sector, would be fatal.
#addher has for the last 13 years contributed, together with other similar female networks, to attract more women to our sector. We are all passionate about continuing to do just that. We will relentlessly and proudly keep visualizing the women in our sector enabling them to get new roles and opportunities. One of our concrete actions to enable that is through #addher Awards, launched last year, resulting in 917 (!) nominations, with a huge spread in social media, highlighting tech women in five distinct categories, displaying their amazing skills and personalities. We will run this initiative again, don’t you worry. Keep a look out for it and make sure that you generously contribute by nominating an IT/Tech woman.
Enabler for mentoring
Our #addher network has also noticed the need for mentorship. Since 2018 we have, together with our sister network DataTjej, run a mentorship initiative, twice a year named Match and Go. Our 10th round is currently running until summer. Here participants can either sign up as mentors or adepts. So far, we are getting close to 3,000 participants, and I am personally especially proud of all mentors that are generously providing their time to help, support and coach another IT/Tech woman. This last round we also opened up for anyone, regardless gender, to be mentors and were happy to see many additional mentors signing up.
My final thoughts
So back to the primary question. Is there still a need for female networks? Well, let me put it this way:
- Is our network #addher still going strong and growing?
- Do we need to attract more women to our sector, and can female networks help?
- Do we need to provide more visibility to our women in the IT/Tech sector and can networks help?
- Can female networks provide mentoring?
The answer to all the questions above is if you have read the entire article – YES. Female networks are again no silver bullet for gender balance, but an important and necessary contributor to move the dial. Basta.
Lastly, if you believe that gender balance is important, providing visibility and positive feedback to the women around you are key. Not just during the week of International Women’s Day, but constantly. And if you, as I, also believe that actions speak louder than words, a simple gesture that we can all do is to praise a woman or two, preferably publicly, e.g., in front of others in a meeting or in social media. One thing is for sure. You will make her day and even provide her with new wings to fly. It all starts there.
- Therese SinterNational #addher Driver, Sweden
+46 70 361 46 21
Therese SinterNational #addher Driver, Sweden
+46 70 361 46 21