General equality and the right to vote for women were elementary goals when launching the International Women's Day at the beginning of the 20th century. More than 100 years later, the challenges for women have changed massively. Nevertheless, the tech sector in particular is still male-dominated. We asked one of our women in tech about her experiences of being a woman in a highly competitive industry.
Anna-Carina Häusler recently became director of the Marketplace team at Syncier. Prior to this, she worked there as head of product and business. After her studies in Sales and Logistics at Heilbronn University, her drive for modernity led her from modern payment business, via tech consulting, to Syncier. Digitization is the linchpin of her story.
Anna-Carina, congratulations again on your promotion! What exactly do you do at your job, and what does the marketplace deal with?
The Syncier Marketplace is, as the name suggests, a B2B API marketplace for the insurance industry. With the marketplace, we try to actively shape the open platform economy and diversity of partnerships in the insurance industry. Everyone is talking about it; we are actually doing it!
As a director, I am responsible for over 40 colleagues who develop different products (by the way, 80% of them are male and older than me). Therefore, it is my job to cover all disciplines to a certain extent: from finance, business development, and sales, to HR and marketing.
What sparked your interest in the tech industry?
I have an decisive experience in mind. A former supervisor placed his smartphone on a conference table, looked at me, and said, "You'll soon be using this to conduct all financial transactions." That was 2013 and a utopian notion for me at the time. Nevertheless, I was immediately interested. I realized that the idea of tech, with its visions, ideas, and speed, is more exciting to me than physical goods. I quickly recognized what tech actually means for our world and our daily lives and how expandable this sector is in Germany. Realizing innovation that no one else has yet imagined has driven me ever since.
Are there any other drastic or formative experiences for you? How did you deal with them?
Being a young woman has proven to be a barrier and a challenge more than once. I can remember one experience in an international setting. I was invited to meet a client as the team lead. It was an initial meeting to get to know each other, but the gentlemen started off by telling me their coffee preferences. Even after explaining that this was not my responsibility, I felt like I was taken less seriously because of my age and gender.
Such situations taught me to always rely on myself in the end. Reality drives me. I want to work in real teams, building real products for real customers. This result-oriented approach allows me to overcome many challenges and helps me deal with difficult situations with confidence.
Who are your role models and/or supporters?
First and foremost - super classic - my mom. She taught me to go through life openly and confidently and to draw value from every kind of lifestyle.
Besides that, I find the topic of career role models rather tricky. Many women follow stereotypes: The tough businesswoman or the one who seems to pull it all together alone. I find this image of the career woman outdated. Who is supposed to identify with such perfect women? We need more authenticity and approachability in female role models! A real role model doesn't always have to manage everything on her own, nor does she have to be excessively tough. Such supposed perfection turns role models into non-role models for me.
Why aren't there more women in the tech industry, in your opinion? How can these hurdles be overcome?
For me, two aspects are crucial: education and how we treat each other.
People who change careers are quite common in the tech industry. In my experience, men are more confident when it comes to daring to try something new. Conversely, women tend to apply only for jobs that fit their profile 100%. Schools and Universities have the obligation of opening people's eyes and avoiding one-dimensionality. At the same time, companies must be more open in their approach to potential applicants. More transparency creates space for people who do not come from this specific field.
Additionally more commitment from "Women in Tech" is needed, in my opinion. It seems to me that women set an even higher standard for other women. We need mutual support. Just because one person's path was rocky, doesn't mean we should make others go through the same experience. Fighting fire with fire makes no sense. We need to actively stand up for one another.
How important is the International Women's Day to you?
I think International Women's Day is crucial. Fairness and equal opportunity are elementary to me. On International Women's Day, these issues find their voice. It allows us to put more power into our statements and to support each other. Especially with women's unique role in the reproductive process (it's okay to call a spade a spade), demands for a flexible working environment are fundamental in this context. We still have a long way to go; the journey of gender equality must not stagnate!
What message do you have for young women and girls who are interested in the IT sector?
Be brave! IT and tech are playing an essential role in our world. It's your choice to be part of that and to be successful. No other industry functions so much on diversity and cross-functionality. This area is where women need to be! Network with women who already have experience in the field, write bold applications and tap into the community. If you understand tech, you understand the future!
The interview was conducted by Victoria Durner.