Women have the right to grow in areas they find interesting and willing to develop and grow in, including the IT sector. About 25% of women are currently involved in Ukrainian IT. The third part of leadership in IT companies belongs to women’s contribution. Sergey Tokarev, Founding Partner at Roosh and Reface investor, notes that the number of women in IT is insufficient. The businessman shared valuable insights on changing this situation for the better.
It has been a long since IT is considered an area unavailable to women. However, many girls still confront stereotypes that it is a solely “male” industry. Mostly, they are told they aim to find a husband or can pretend only to become an HR or QA engineer.
These reasons explain their fear of starting their career in this industry. According to Sergey Tokarev, the industry loses potential specialists that can significantly contribute to Ukrainian IT. Today, the industry needs more professionals, including in data science, ML, AI, and cybersecurity.
“To solve this problem, it is necessary to create thematic clubs and communities,” adds Tokarev. “This way, every girl interested in IT can find a role model in this profession and can turn to like-minded people for advice or support.”
By saying this, Sergey Tokarev exemplifies the initiative SHE is SCIENCE that inspires girls to pursue a career in STEM. The initiative was launched by NGO STEM is FEM. The project’s goal is to familiarize participants with the career of 12 outstanding Ukrainian scientists who contributed dramatically to the science and IT sector. The project contained 12 portraits with the faces of female scientists and IT specialists among them: Olga Perevozchikova, a scientist who contributed to creating state programming standards in Ukraine, and Kateryna Yushchenko, a programmer who tailored a formal language for addressable computer programming.
The initiative includes the practical part where girls can dive into IT. Last year, in partnership with the Swiss organization Empowerment Lab and with the support of Oracle, the project launched free IT courses for schoolgirls aged 12-16. They could attend classes on Machine Learning, App prototyping, and Data-driven web apps. Such an approach helps girls to understand what IT area interests them.
Sergey Tokarev underlines that it is essential to keep their interest by providing a proper high education.
”Last summer, SET University, which specializes exclusively in technology, organized a cybersecurity course for teenagers. The courses were for both girls and boys, yet girls made up 30% of the total number of course participants. There is indeed a demand for IT among girls. They need to be supported and motivated. Therefore, the university plans to open scholarship programs for girls later,” says Tokarev.
Another important thing is to support girls when building a career with specialized communities. Sergey Tokarev names AI HOUSE as a professional community club that unites national and foreign IT specialists in AI and ML. This initiative organizes regular training for girls. Currently, the community incorporates around 25% of women, but the project organizers believe more experts will join it soon.