Ilona Skarbowska is the President of Carrots Foundation, which operates Geek Girls Carrots, the biggest female tech community organization in Poland. We recently spoke with Ilona to hear her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for women who want to work in the tech industry.
Tell us a bit about your background. What attracted you to the tech industry?
I started as a graphic designer, but I felt that I could do more than that. I wanted to be a part of the strategic process. I was always curious about how things are made and what the real need is behind a product. I was looking for a new challenge – and then I discovered the IT world.
In your opinion, what is the biggest reason why there aren’t more women working in tech today?
It’s all about the education system. We don’t encourage girls to search for things that they can really fall in love with and be passionate about. I’ll even go further and say that we discourage girls from doing that through sexism at school, where we allow discrimination between children. After all, our adulthood is based on experiences and behavior patterns from childhood.
Since your organization is global, could you tell us if there are any differences in the prevalence of women in tech based on geographical location?
As an international organization, I notice differences in attitudes. Well-developed countries are more likely to support Carrots’ mission. But the problem of underrepresented numbers of women in IT and tech exists everywhere.
Which tech industries have the fewest women working in them?
We still have to work at getting into the programming sector. Also, I can see a huge gap in Ph.D. studies.
In your workshops and meetups, are the issues which generate the heaviest discussion basically the same as those which are discussed in other (male-dominated) tech gatherings? What are the hot tech topics among Geek Girls Carrots members these days?
The Geek Girls Carrots community gathers women who are interested in the tech industry, which means that we talk about programming, VR, AR, testing, UX, video making, and project management; the topics depend on the interests of the group or meeting. The Carrots community likes to discuss the newest things that are going on in the market right now. Girls are also enthusiastic about startup industries that look for co-founders as well as research to validate their startup idea.
Are there any special challenges or biases that women face when they apply for jobs in the tech industry?
Many people still think that many jobs are not for women, so women don’t have the chance to show their ability and experience.
What does the future look like for women in the worldwide tech industry?
We see that the world is changing and that attitudes have changed. There are more women showing interest in and exploring the tech world. They have amazing ideas and more courage to take advantage of them.
Thank you Ilona.
Compare the salaries of various tech jobs at paysa.com.