Women in tech in focus at the GI Annual Conference

The 52nd Annual conference of the German Informatics Society (GI) took place from 26 until 30 September 2022 in Hamburg, Germany. 

The role of women in IT was a topic of several events during the conference. A workshop organized by members of GI’s special interest group “Women in Informatics” with the title “More women in IT – How do we get there?” took place on 26 September 2022, a session on “More women in informatics!”  on 28. September 2022.  

woman with a laptop

Two major topics were highlighted during the workshop – how to encourage women and girls to choose a career path in computing and how to retain them in computing once they have selected that profession. 

Lack of information about what exactly computing is might be one reason why it is not chosen for an occupational or academic education. Training for teachers, more information for parents and better information on computing was discussed. Controversial views exist for special study programs for women. Nevertheless, they can be very successful as was reported by Juliane Siegeris of the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin). Other speakers reported on initiatives to make girls and women aware of professional opportunities in computing. Several posters, among them one poster on the CEPIS DiversIT Charter, provided further information on existing activities.  

Remote work became very widespread during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nicola Marsden (University of Heilbronn) pointed out the pros and cons of teleworking for women in tech. On one side, there is more flexibility, but on the other side, there is also less access to informal knowledge and decrease of social contact, which can have a negative impact on people’s wellbeing. Nicola Marsden also presented the recently published book “Retaining Women in Tech -Shifting the Paradigm”, co-authored by her.  

Several proposals as to how to strengthen the situation of women were made during the final group work. Among the most important topics were issues like fair payment, flexible working time, networking, improved working atmosphere and meeting culture, and continued training (lifelong learning). 

During the session, “More women in informatics” Prof. Barbara Schwarze (Kompetenzzentrum Technik-Diversity-Chancengleichheit) elaborated in her keynote on how to close the gender gap with the aim to increase the percentage of women in IT in the future. She informed on the project #FrauWirktDigital initiated by #SheTransformsIT. The general aim is an increased participation of women in all phases of digitization. Christine Regitz, President of the German Informatics Society, underlined the importance of improving several initiatives over the whole educational path from school to business life. Prof. Wolfram Wingeroth (University of Oldenburg) reported on handsfree coding.  

Daniela Kluckert (Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport) and Bernd Holthaus (Intel) extended the round of speakers at the round table discussion. The participants pointed out existing shortcomings in the implementation of education in informatics at schools and imbalances in career options for women. They finally underlined the requirements for equal opportunities for men and women at a time of growing digitization. 


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