No one should be held back from achieving their definition of success. Sadly, in many parts of the world, women are still disproportionately marginalized and held back from achieving their professional goals due to outdated gender roles and expectations.
Women are often expected to prioritize starting a family and having children, regardless of their own professional aspirations. This makes it all too common for women to settle for professions that are seen as more “feminine” rather than pursuing their dreams and what they truly love, whether that be physics, programming, or any other field in STEM.
BM Insight: According to the European Commission’s Women in Digital Scoreboard 2021, women represent only 34% of STEM graduates (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and 19% of ICT specialists. The Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia reports that roughly 50% of all registered employees in Serbia are women. But unfortunately, this percentage drops to 20-25% in the STEM fields. This shows that we still have a long way to go in achieving gender equality in this sector.
At BrightMarbles Group, we’re on a mission to challenge traditional beliefs and showcase the amazing talents of our female Mibsters. To honor Women’s Month, we hosted an online meetup called ‘Women in Tech Leadership: Shattering the Glass Ceiling’ where four incredible tech leaders shared their inspiring stories of how they overcame the obstacles that stood in their way of success.
- Nevena Nemeš, Chief Experience Officer @ BMGH
- Mirjana Parpura Đorđević, Senior HR Business Partner @ Brightly
- Tamara Petrović, Scrum Master and Agile Coach @ BrightMarbles Serbia
- Jasmina Dimitrijević, Senior Software Engineer @ Brightly
- Moderator: Daniela Červeni, People Operations Manager @ BMGH
BM Insight: As part of this Women’s Month campaign, “Innovation and technology for Gender Equality”, BrightMarbles also organized a free coding workshop for girls aged 10-13, titled “Intro to Programming with Scratch”. Discover more about this empowering event in our blog post.
Busting Outdated Stereotypes
For decades, we have been raised in an environment that was based on bias, but thankfully, the times are changing. Nevertheless, it’s a slow process.
From a young age, children are still subjected to gender roles and stereotypes that limit their potential. As parents, we tend to encourage ambitious behavior in our sons while expecting our daughters to be kind and empathic.
Unfortunately, our panelists had a similar experience while growing up, and it’s a harsh reality that far too many of our children still encounter today.
Nevena – a Gamer and a PhD Candidate in Psychology
Despite her passion for gaming and technology, Nevena faced the same challenges that many of us faced. Many people believed that her sensitive and emotional nature made it difficult for her to fit into the tech industry. She accepted this and listened to the advice to focus on her feminine side, driving her to pursue a career in psychology. However, her love for technology only kept intensifying, eventually leading her back to the IoT industry.
Mirjana – a Philologist in the Tech World
Our second panelist, Mirjana, shared how a non-tech background doesn’t have to limit one’s career opportunities. After graduating from the Faculty of Philology (department of French language), Mirjana began her HR career in a bank. However, when the IT industry began to boom in Serbia, she decided to take an unplanned leap into this sector, and she told us she hadn’t looked back since.
Tamara – a Book Publisher Going Agile
Tamara shared that her career in IT started after giving birth to her child in 2010. She realized that the demanding job of managing a publishing house was no longer feasible. Having taken her first opportunity to make a career shift, she found that IT offered her the kind of flexibility she had been missing. It’s clear that this branch was her call because she has never stopped growing ever since!
Jasmina – a Rock-Steady Tech from Day One
Since the very beginning of her career, Jasmina has been a groundbreaking force in the battle against gender prejudice in the IT world. With unwavering determination, she has strived to achieve her ambitions and leave her mark on the world. Fast-forward 17 years: she is still blazing a trail and pushing the boundaries of the trade in ways that many said couldn’t be done.
Glimpsing the World Through a Woman’s Perspective
Women around the globe are typically expected to carry out the majority of, if not all, household responsibilities while working full-time jobs. This is backed up by statistics that demonstrate that women spend 30-40% more time than their husbands on unpaid household tasks, leading to a struggle with work-life balance.
And it’s no surprise that women are shouldering most of the burden when it comes to childcare as well, even when both parents are working full-time. According to a study conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women spend twice as much time with their children compared to their male partners because parenting is still often viewed as a mother’s job rather than a parent’s duty.
Juggling the demands of both worlds can be overwhelming, but as our panelists pointed out, with great determination and unwavering support from your loved ones, achieving a healthy work-life balance and staying focused on your path to success is much easier.
Is STEM Still a ‘Male-Dominated’ Industry?
It’s a disheartening reality that the gender gap continues to exist in the workplace today, especially in the ‘male-dominated’ industries such as STEM and IT. The 2021 report from the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) paints a harsh picture, showing that only 15% of STEM graduates in the EU are women. To make matters more concerning, a survey conducted by McKinsey & Company revealed a shocking disparity in the number of women in senior leadership roles compared to men, with only 9% of C-suite roles held by women.
The ICT sector in Europe is also affected by the gender pay gap, which is a major injustice that needs to be addressed. Women in tech are earning an average of 19% less than their male counterparts, according to a 2021 report released by the European Commission.
Closing the Gender Gaps in the IT World
At Brightmarbles Group, we’re committed to closing the gender gap that exists. We’re passionate about continuing to make progress toward a more equitable and diverse workforce.
We believe in being open and honest in our approach, so our panelists generously shared their journeys of how they have taken on the gender gap in the IT industry.
What made them stronger?
When Mirjana first started her career, her coworkers were mainly men. But, as the IT sector has advanced in Serbia, the gender diversity within the sector has greatly increased. She noted that she has been fortunate enough not to experience any significant gender stereotypes throughout her career – and she largely attributes it to the fact that IT is a field of highly educated and polite individuals.
Nevena and Tamara have both faced their fair share of gender stereotypes and inconveniences from male colleagues during their past careers. Nevertheless, they didn’t let this impede their growth and potential. Jasmina also shared her experience of facing difficulty in securing a job as a Software Engineer when she was starting out. Yet, she doesn’t blame it on the male-dominated industry, as it could have also been due to her lack of experience.
Smashing Down Gender Bias with Dynamic Leadership Styles
Never failing and never being challenged may seem like a path to success, but it doesn’t get you very far. It’s only through the challenging times that we’re able to gain valuable lessons, allowing us to come back twice as strong. Our powerful leaders have demonstrated this same resilience and determination, just like She-Hulk. And as we all know, each superhero has its own special set of powers, and our leaders are no exception. Our differences are what make us stronger, and that’s why our She-Leaders have been so open and honest about what set of skills make them stronger.
Nevena – She who Communicates
As she encountered numerous gender-based obstacles, she soon realized that the only way to break through them was to communicate openly, honestly, and with confidence. One of the issues she faced in her career was her tendency to want to do everything herself, instead of entrusting and delegating tasks to her colleagues. However, she quickly discovered that effective communication was the key to tackling these matters head-on.
To all female leaders out there, it’s time for us to take the lead! Now is the moment to have the courage to own our talents and ideas, embrace our accomplishments, and confidently speak up and take action. Together, we can make an impact and leave our mark on this world!
Tamara – She who Is Resilient
As Scrum Master in this male-dominated industry, navigating through all projects can be accompanied by tremendous stress and pressure that can seep into her personal life. What set her back the most was her lack of self-confidence. After overcoming her self-doubt, she realized that with great determination and consistent effort, anything can be achieved.
To every woman out there blazing her own path as a manager, you have the power to shape your success. Give yourself credit for the hard work you have done and remain assertive no matter how turbulent the road may become.
Jasmina – She who Adapts
With courage, resilience and an unwavering sense of self, she has bravely navigated the difficult landscape of being a Software Engineer. Despite facing challenges such as being underestimated, not having a strong female role model to look up to, long working hours, and less family-friendly benefits, she has persevered by adapting and staying true to her unique self.
To all software engineers – keep pushing forward, be open to new experiences, and build strong connections in order to take their career to the next level. With the strength and determination that lies within all of us, anything is possible!
Mirjana – She who Connects
Mirjana shared that the key to her success was the strong connections she had with her team. At times, she admits that she put more emphasis on the relationship than on the final product, but this strength ended up being a great asset.
To all female leaders striving for success, she wants to emphasize the importance of forming strong and meaningful connections with your colleagues. After all, it is only through collaboration and mutual understanding that you can achieve something truly remarkable.
Everybody knows the classic tale about Cinderella and her glass slipper, waiting for her prince. While we all love fairy tales, this time we’ve shared some amazing, real-life stories of our incredible women who have completely shattered the glass ceiling in the tech world!
Stand by us and fight for a world where gender doesn’t determine opportunities, where women and men compete as equals, and where everyone can achieve their full potential.
And always remember, it’s we who write our own stories, with complete control over our professional and personal lives.
Nastasija Trajanova is a marketing maverick with an impressive track record in diverse fields. She’s worked with NGOs and big-name companies like The Body Shop and Converse and has led digital marketing efforts for Silicon Valley clients. Google certifications for Search and Shopping Ads and Google Analytics are just the cherries on top of her impressive skillset.