Empowering women to achieve their career goals in IT

Empowering women to achieve their career goals in IT

Dušica Lukić
6 min read
Empowering women to achieve their career goals in

Despite the increasing number of women in the workforce, there is still a significant gender gap in the field of information technology (IT). Women account for only a fraction of the IT workforce, with just 28% of computing jobs being held by women in the United States while that percentage is even lower in Europe, just 18% according to the European Commission’s report. This underrepresentation of women in IT is not just a social issue, but also an economic one, as it hinders the industry's innovation and growth potential.

Women in IT have played a pivotal role in driving innovation, advancing technology, and shaping the industry's future. However, despite these successes, women still face many obstacles and challenges in the IT industry. Gender stereotypes, unconscious biases, and cultural norms that discourage women from pursuing careers in IT are just a few of the many barriers women face. Despite these obstacles, many women in IT are pushing forward and making significant contributions to the industry.

In this article, we have asked Dusica Lukic, our co-founder and Product Manager to share her thoughts regarding this matter. She passionately speaks on this subject, and her story is a testament to the fact that hard work, determination, and perseverance can take you very far.

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in IT, and what is your message to young girls thinking of doing the same?

"As a young girl, I have always preferred numbers over letters. My parents are Mechanical Engineers, so it was a career path that I was so familiar with. My interests in math, programming, and digital signal processing have convinced me to apply for BSc in EE at the University of Belgrade.

Part of my studies I’ve finished at MIT India and METU in Turkey. Those visits were crucial for me to comprehend the power of science, cherish different perspectives among team members, and raise intercultural awareness.

In Turkey, I have worked on a project intended to recognize urban, sub-urban, agricultural soil, and water areas from satellite images. Also, my colleague and I wrote software for recognizing license plates numbers from pictures of cars.

Basically, all I was doing was teaching computers how to see, and how to recognize colors and patterns. It’s like playing God. Imagine having that power! And it gets you addicted to exploring more and more. But I was not a geeky girl. I also played volleyball since I was 10, I would always go out with my friends and no one actually believed I was that good of a student. I was straight A’s with a very little studying, but at the same time very much into social happenings. I would study for an exam 24 hrs straight and several days in a row.

I remember, my friends going out to a club and I had to stay home and study. They would pick me up at 5am when they finished partying and we would go together to grab something to eat. I would enjoy their stories and company as if I went out with them.

Afterwards, they would go back home to sleep and I would go back to study. That way we both had a feeling that I’m not missing on anything. What I am trying to say is everything is possible. You don’t have to sacrifice all your life because of one thing, you just need to prioritize.

Also, we are living in the era of aesthetic worshiping and it’s not easy to see what truly matters."

My message to all the girls out there is that being smart is cool. It’s the best you can be and it will never go out of fashion.

2.  What have been some of the highlights of your career so far and why Product Management?

"I’ve been Product Manager for all of my career. It’s been 10 years already. It is a career path that is aligned with my character (being very curious about how things work, wanting to know everything – e.g. a bit of marketing, sales, finances, etc.). I also think that this career is one that women excel in. Mainly because to be exceptional in this role you need to have empathy, a balanced ego to handle the development team and the key stakeholders at the same time, and emotional intelligence. All of this is something that women are more susceptible to than men.

The highlight of my career is starting something of my own. After many years of working in big international companies, I’ve decided to hop on an adventure called Joberty."😊

3. How have you navigated the challenges and obstacles that come with being a woman in a leadership position and being a mom at the same time?

"It’s a never-ending story. I’m constantly juggling between different roles I have but what I’ve learned is it doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes you just need to be there, be present, and hear the other person and it will be enough. I also practice not being hard on myself. When you accept that it’s impossible to have everything sorted out, under control, and do when you want to – it gets easier 😊.

But, at the same time, being a mom made me a better leader. For example, I practice selective vulnerability. This means, I am strict when I need to be, but I also show emotions, understanding, and human reactions. As a leader, you need to balance how people see you. You don’t want to be perceived as a robot or as someone sobbing constantly. There’s a fine line between sharing, which builds trust, and oversharing, which destroys it so I am constantly searching for that fine line.

4. What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in IT?

I think there are many great things about it. Here are a few:

1. Opportunities for growth and development: The IT industry is constantly evolving, which means that there are always new technologies and skills to learn. Also, there’s a high demand for IT skills constantly, and many opportunities for employment and career advancement.

2. The IT industry offers a wide variety of career paths, including software development, cybersecurity, data analysis, product and project management, and more. This allows anyone to find a career path that aligns with their interests and skills.

3. If you are driven by purpose and want to make a difference, IT has the potential to make a significant impact on society, whether through developing new technologies, improving healthcare systems, or advancing scientific research. You can be a part of this positive change and make a difference in the world.

4. Many IT jobs offer flexibility and the ability to work remotely, which can help women balance many roles and responsibilities they have.

Overall, being a woman in IT can be a fulfilling and rewarding career choice with many opportunities for growth, impact, and work-life balance. But we should also think of those who don’t even consider it, thinking I probably won’t be good at it.

My path was logical because I had role models in my closest proximity, but not everyone has. And you can’t be something you don’t see around you, therefore it’s damn hard to imagine yourself in those shoes.

I say, take the chance, consider it, you never know where it can take you.

5. How do you think the IT industry could be more inclusive and supportive of women, and what steps do you think organizations can take to achieve this?

First of all, to really make the change, IT companies need to foster a culture of inclusion. This means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued, regardless of gender or background. Secondly, companies could increase their recruitment efforts to attract more women to IT roles. If you offer flexible work arrangements that will make you even more appealing to female candidates.

Don’t forget to address the gender pay gap, provide mentoring and sponsorship programs to help women develop their careers and build relationships with senior leaders.

Companies should also address unconscious bias in their hiring and promotion processes to ensure that women are not overlooked for opportunities. But most importantly, companies should actively promote female leadership by appointing women to leadership positions and creating opportunities for women to advance their careers. That’s where the biggest drop in numbers happens and that’s the area that has the most potential for improvement.

We as a society have to help those women. We need to do everything we can to enable women to live their best life, conquer every mountain they want to climb, and win every challenge on the way. Let them dare and dream big because that’s how amazing things happen!

[10:27 AM]