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Some notes after attending the „Girls in Tech Switzerland“ event last week 

Last week I went to an event organized by “Girls in Tech Switzerland” and finally found a bit of time today to write down some thoughts: 

Starting with some key takeaways from the wonderful panel:

A key takeaway was for me that it’s completely okay to switch paths. I get often asked how I ended up studying art, given that I finished a Gymnasium with a focus in law and economics and I am confronted with even more confusion, when I say that I am currently extending my skills in the field of Computer Science.  

One of the panelists said that we should also start acknowledging micro influencing, because we often think we can’t make a difference, yet everyone can. I get direct messages on a frequent basis and I am always happy to help, whether it’s related to how one can start ones journey in the art world or in the tech field (or even better both). When I was an art student, I was lucky to have people around me that I could rely on whenever I needed advice, too. Sometimes I get asked by parents how they can make their female kids more curious about tech and I wrote down a few things that my parents did and other things that I consider to be important:  

Exposure and other bits of advice for parents: 

A while ago I found this magazine at home between old family photo albums. It had a focus on the topic „Women at IBM“. I wondered why it was there given that it was published over twenty years ago, in 1997 to be precise, the year I was born. I started to randomly leaf through the pages and at almost the very end I found out why: I found my name in it. IBM had this habit of publishing the news, when one of their employees became a parent. 

I get asked by parents in my surroundings every once in a while, how they can encourage their female kids to get curious about technology. To come back to the magazine I found, I have to admit that I personally grew up in a privileged position, since my father was a tech nerd, who worked for IBM for over twenty years. He made me curious about Computer Science concepts early on. But what was even more important in retrospect is that he also taught me to remain critical about certain hypes in tech. I was also privileged with my second parent. My mother worked as a vice director in a bank and therefore I grew up with a female working in a top position, too. And to this day, whenever I have the slightest doubts, she says „I know you, I know you can do this!“ 

Both of my parents made sure that I was exposed to a lot of different things from an early age on: I spent most of the time playing with construction toys such as LEGO. This allowed me to bring my vivid imagination into being. For example: I once assembled a vehicle that was simultaneously a car, a submarine and an airplane (sadly don’t have a picture of it). Besides they always made sure that I was exposed to culture and took me to the coolest museums such as the Sauriermuseum in Aathal or the Verkehrshaus in Luzern.   

younger version of me 🙂

So my first advice is: expose your kids to cool toys and culture

My self doubts about what I could be or could achieve only started once I entered the school system. Ironically I could enter school earlier, even though I was supposed to stay for another year in Kindergarten, because I was born in late May (Switzerland had this rule at the time that you had to be born before April 30th to enter first class), since I took a special test, which I passed, where I had to solve some puzzles and riddles I could enter.

During my whole school career, I never really liked going to school (I only started to enjoy it, once I started my Fine Arts studies). I never understood how everything all of a sudden had to be separated into different subjects. I never understood why everyone had to learn the same stuff in a 45 minutes interval. Additionally being hypersensitive sharing a room with too many people at once, I felt easily overwhelmed. But what annoyed me the most was being exposed to being judged by teachers about what one can become or not. The limited mindset of certain teachers slowly killed creativity and passion in way to many people I grew up with. Also I figured, being a nerd is not to cool. Especially if you happen to be a female nerd. So I tried more or less successful to hide that part of me during school.

Along the way of my school time my father always said „You have to do your thing.“ And I guess if he wouldn’t have said that on a frequent basis, I wouldn’t be pursing my passions to this day. 

So my second advice is: Ask your kids about their experience in school and motivate them to stay true to themselves, even when they have teachers who don’t believe in their ideas. 

Today, I am in a lucky position, since I have other inspiring females around me, who are cool and working in tech. This makes me feel less alone and brings me to me last advice:

Make sure your kids are spending time with other inspiring females and make sure they can learn about women in history, who made a difference.  

For example as a kid Kim Possible was my role model. Yet I would have loved to learn about Ada Lovelace earlier, too.