In the following interview, eyeo’s COO Jutta Horstmann speaks about role models and leadership, and how the presence of women in tech should and will evolve.
Today is International Women’s Day. Many people would say that we live in a pretty equal society already, do you agree with that?
I don’t agree at all! There are so many areas where women experience setbacks in their career or in daily life based on gender. We have a gender pay-gap and a lack of women in leadership positions. Every fourth woman gets harassed at least once in her life and we need to keep in mind that we are living in a very privileged part of the world. In many countries, the situation for women is much worse and it’s our duty to support them. So: Yes, an international Women’s day is highly needed in my opinion.
What are your experiences as a woman in tech? When I started to work as a system administrator and database developer back in the 90’s and got involved in the open source community, I started to notice that there were very few other women. When I decided to found my own company a few years later, I wanted to make a difference and I managed to reach a fifty-fifty ratio between male and female employees. Having a woman as a founder and a CEO was incredibly helpful for hiring female tech staff. It’s all about role models.
Why are role models so important in your opinion? A role model is a person who you can relate to and identify with. They are in a position where you want to be and they show you that it’s approachable. Unfortunately, young girls are often lacking those role models in the media and also in schools. That’s why I try to use every possibility I have to reach out to young girls to make clear that they are capable of starting a career in tech and that it can be incredibly fun. That’s why I think it’s so great that we have the Girls’ day, where eyeo is participating as well. There are a few places left in our workshops in Cologne and Berlin.
What advice would you give to women for their careers in tech? Never be afraid; you can totally manage it. Being a good leader is not something that is against femininity. On the contrary, leadership is a truly feminine trait. It is something we should own and occupy. There’s no contradiction at all. The system needs to change so women don’t have to adapt to it, we have to make it ours!
Über eyeo: eyeo’s Mission sind Lösungen für ein faires und nachhaltig finanziertes Internet. Dafür entwickelt die eyeo GmbH aus Köln die Browser-Erweiterung Adblock Plus mit der Nutzerinnen und Nutzer störende Werbung im Internet blockieren können. Die kostenfreie Open-Source Software wird weltweit von über 100 Mio. Menschen genutzt und unterstützt die Acceptable Ads Initiative für bessere Online-Werbung. Darüber hinaus entwickelt eyeo Adblocking-Apps für iOS und Android sowie den Micropayment-Dienst Flattr.