Women in Tech: An interview with Product Owner Marie-Luise
Women developing software? Even today, the IT sector is still dominated by men. Nevertheless, there are more and more women who opt for technical training. Some of them are now working for us in software development. Our recruiter Hanna talked to Marie-Luise, who works for us as a Product Owner.
Hanna: Hi Marie-Luise, thank you for accepting my interview invitation! Let's start from the beginning: What did you study?
Marie-Luise: Theology/German Studies (B.A.), Ancient Cultures (M.A.), Media Informatics (B.Sc. Dual)
Please tell me briefly about your career at eos.uptrade:
I started at eos over eight years ago as a software developer. Three years ago, I took over the role of Product Owner in my team and since then I have been part of the product management team.
As a Product Owner, I am responsible for a specific part of our software, i.e. I answer all questions about the current range of functions and coordinate the further development.
Together with the other product owners, I develop and evaluate ideas for new functions or enhancements. We take a close look at whether or where and how a new function fits into our software. Afterwards, we check in the involved teams with developers and testers how the technical implementation could look like and how much time we need for it in each case. If the decision is made to implement a function, I consult with the product owners of the other teams involved for prioritization, schedule the implementation in my team accordingly and clarify any queries that arise during the process. Finally, I regularly present new functions and their possible uses to my colleagues in sales and project management.
What made you decide to study media informatics? What interested and fascinated you?
I'm fascinated by how many things can be realized and simplified with the help of computers and, above all, how much you can do on your own without any great magic arts. In my environment there are several people who realize funny little projects every now and then and prove that. I think the first formative example was my father, who, when I was little, programmed our "game computers" in such a way that my siblings and I could only spend a certain amount of time per day playing games. A "parent mode," so to speak. And that was in the early 90s.
Although there were always computers at home, and I never had any "fear of contact" with them, my studies in media informatics happened only by several coincidences. First, I studied a humanistic subject and worked as a student assistant in a special research area. There I noticed again and again that very little work was done with computer support, even though it would have been useful and easily possible. Towards the end of my studies, I had the idea to further train this view by an additional qualification and to make it practical, so to speak.
While searching, I came across the dual study program "Media Informatics". Dual, because it was supposed to provide me with as much practical and professional experience as possible, "media" informatics, because I had not had any previous contact worth mentioning with computer science, but I had some experience with media design (especially video editing and rudimentary design of blog entries with html/css).
During my studies I realized relatively quickly that I also enjoy programming, so that from the third semester on I took all available subjects in this direction. In the end, I ended up in software development and did not go back to the humanities as I had originally planned. I am still very happy with this decision today.
IT is still considered a typical "male domain". Do you have the feeling that you have to work harder than your male colleagues?
No. However, I always performed well at school and in my studies, and I think that this often gives me a certain security in my professional life. But I have never consciously felt that anyone expects more or less from me than from a male colleague.
Have you ever had the feeling that you were not taken seriously or accepted as a female software developer?
That is difficult. During my studies with my industry partner (an advertising agency), I sometimes had the feeling that clients of the older generation were a bit skeptical when I was introduced in the appointment as the one who is supposed to program their website. However, I can't say whether they were bothered by the developer being a woman, or whether it was simply because I was "only" a student and therefore still a bit insecure myself. Anyway, I've never had this feeling among colleagues.
How many women are in your team?
In the beginning I was the only woman in a team of 9 people. Meanwhile our team consists of 13 people including a female scrum master and a female project manager.
What advice do you have for women who want to work in IT or technical professions?
It's the same as for any profession: look at what it's all about, talk to people who work in the field. If you don't know anyone, there are now various opportunities to look around at career fairs or taster days. And if you are insecure, you should try to find a company where women are already working, or at least take advantage of the opportunity to get to know future colleagues beforehand. Personally, I have always had female colleagues in my field, and I think that makes a big difference. If you are the first woman in a team, you simply don't know beforehand how your colleagues will react - even if they only mean well.
What do you think would have to change in order for more women to choose a mathematical-technical profession?
I think there is already a lot of movement in the right direction. Our society has mostly accepted women in mathematical-technical professions and also consciously promotes them with events, scholarships and the like. I think it is often still difficult within our own circle.
When I think about this question, I spontaneously think of an episode from the TV series "Friends". Rachel wants to make the apartment baby-proof. Joey and Monica are amazed and advise her to call a craftsman. "You think women can't do that?" - "Women can, but not you!"
That's often the missing step. Women can... But not me / you / my sister / daughter / girlfriend? Why not? I think we especially need to encourage young people in our very own environment to try unusual things if they're interested and support them proactively, if that’s met with resistance in the family environment or circle of friends.
Of course, not every woman - just like not every man - is qualified for such a profession, but one should not let gender-related expectations determine this. And: Being a software developer also has the characteristics of a "typical" female profession. It doesn't require any particular physical strength, has a lot to do with communication in the agile environment, and it is super family-friendly (which many of my male colleagues also appreciate for the benefit of their children). Sounds like it was made for women, doesn't it?
Thank you very much for this interview!
Interested? Check out our job openings and feel free to contact us.