Women, IT & entrepreneurship #2 – Rosanna Kurrer
Rosanna Kurrer : Take a step further towards ICT
Cofounder of the Digital Leadership Institute, Rosanna Kurrer is a leader, design thinker and a tech woman. By encouraging women and girls to take a step further towards ICT, she aims to help bridging the gender gap in the digital world.
Her education is international and brilliant: After growing up and studying Architecture in the Philippines, one of the most equal countries regarding the gender, Rosanna moves to Japan where she completes a Master in Architecture Engineering. There, she meets her partner and migrates to Germany. While she was meant to work in her home country at first, she decided to take this important turn and accepted to be part of a “brain drain”. When she recalls that moment of her life she admits that, professionally, it was not easy: “Germany is very conservative when it comes to mothers. If you are single, it’s fine. But if you have children… They have this expression called “Rabenmutter” which means Raven mother, a woman who works and “abandons” her children… It basically expresses the questions ‘Why do you have children if you work?’”
After a few years in Germany, she moves with her family to Brussels and later cofounds the Digital Leadership Institute (LDI). The organization, spearhead of many initiatives that aim to include more girls and women in the tech world, sees the light in 2014.
Women in Tech
“In Germany, women do stay more at home than in Belgium. But, even with that, you see more women in the tech sector than here.” One of the reasons articulated lies in the educational system: “I guess that, here, smart girls are less directed to sciences and engineering compared to boys.”
When asking about the women in the tech world, she explains: “I think many women don’t see that they have to be [in the tech world] and men might think ‘well, why should they be here?’. I don’t think there is any exclusion, just that it has always been like that. And you know, it’s like inertia: you tend to just carry on the way things are.”
Need for a community
“Women usually don’t stay too long in the tech field, even with a tech background. And that is mainly because of the environment.” Through her experience and her encounters, she noticed that many women were not always comfortable in an all-male space and this could determine their departure. She carries on: “So, what women would need is a community.” This community can be a mentorship, a network, etc. For example, she mentions the idea of women under 30 teaching sciences and IT to high school girls: “If they see that these young persons can do it, then they will rely more on these examples and understand they can do it as well.”
But the most important aspect for these women, besides learning, is to be part of a professional environment where they can act and interact in the best way possible.
“For example, one of the projects we do to cope with that is the cybersecurity training program. With that program, the goal is not just to teach them technics but also to become a leader in their sectors.” Through these courses and especially the network around it, women from various fields can benefit from the advice of other women and men.
Why creating an all-female environment? “Women tend to speak less up when there are men in the room, especially when it comes to technical matter.” When saying that, Rosanna specifies that it does not mean they should not work with men. On the contrary, she advocates a mix of genders in any field. The idea behind her initiatives is more to create a safe place for girls and women, where they can express themselves confidently.
Advices for future entrepreneurs
Any advice for girls and women who aspire to become entrepreneurs?
“They should find a problem they want to solve and be passionate about it… Also, they have to find someone they want to work with, someone they can trust and who is also passionate about solving… More generally, if you feel that way about what you’re doing, do it!”