International Women’s Day: women in tech (II)

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, SQLI has spoken to four inspirational digital leaders to find out what advice they might give to their younger self, trying to break into the tech industry for the first time.

Here, in the second part of the series, Jenny Munther, Chief of Operations at SQLI Nordics, relays her message. Read Part One, here.

Jenny Munther, CEO at SQLI Nordics 

A message to my younger self 

The tech space is a great sector to work in today as a woman. I have daughters who are 20 and I'm trying to encourage them to move into male-dominated career areas because I think they will have an advantage. Rather than it being difficult for them, women should actively pursue these areas because being good in these roles - and being a woman - is a great thing. 

There are more opportunities now in digital and tech. A lot of offices and workplaces want a better balance between women and men. So, in my eyes, being a woman is an advantage, not a disadvantage.  

Move into male-dominated spheres! 

I am telling my daughters not to fear moving into these ‘male’ spheres and making these choices. And, when a man pretends to know everything, they must realise it’s often bravado - we are all pretending to be something or someone, in some way. My advice to anyone starting out in their career, or to my younger self, is to try not to be worried that people know more than you, as it’s not often the case.  

Maybe a generalisation but men tend to be good at shining a positive light on their careers (and there’s nothing wrong with that), while women often downplay their achievements. I see this a lot when interviewing for roles. Don’t underestimate yourself or make excuses for not knowing as much as anybody else. Show a little bit more of yourself! 

Offering a fresh perspective 

Just because you are starting out in digital doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer. Remember, you're bringing a fresh-perspective, a fresh pair of eyes - and you can be just as vital to discussions as a young female as someone who has been in the game for decades. I believe it's really important to have these different perspectives. Everything gets boring if everybody just comes with the same opinions or views. I’m very much for diversity.  

I'm probably not seen as a typical female which might be one of the reasons why I've ended up working mostly with men. As a young female when you start working, it's easy to feel you are getting a bit patted on the head. I think that’s the same in many industries, not just digital. However, this is happening less in general and certainly doesn't happen often to me anymore, but maybe that’s because of my age and I've learned how to stop it before it even starts! 

Don’t take yourself too seriously 

I do think sometimes with teams from different countries involved there can be cultural differences rather than anything misogynistic. You see different types of leadership styles globally that are totally different from your own. 

I had one international client once who wouldn’t talk to me because I was female and I had to have a male colleague with me in order to communicate through. He spoke to my male colleague who relayed the questions to me, even though we were all in the meeting together. I certainly didn’t find it funny, but I decided to laugh at it as there was nothing else to do. And both me and my male colleague made it very clear that we found the behaviour ridiculous and not okay. Luckily, these instances are rare. Don’t take yourself too seriously, try to find humour in things! 

More female developers are needed 

I would love to see more female developers in the industry. Women are different and have different perspectives and I enjoy working with a mix of both men and women – as well as a mix of ages and nationalities. Having this mix is really good for creativity.  

There are a lot of female project managers and some UX designers, but the developers are around 90 per cent male.  

I don’t really understand why so few women become developers. Perhaps this needs to be encouraged at the grass root level – with government, education and industry coming together to give more women the opportunity to pursue a career in technology and digital.  It will help to address the shortage and skills gap. 

However, my final piece of advice to my younger self is that digital is the future. There’s a lot of freedom in choosing this industry – there are so many options open to you and you can work anywhere in the world. It's just going to get more and more interesting. 

Jenny Munther bio: 

After starting her career in marketing and then moving into sales in Denmark for six years, Jenny made the decision to go to university to study journalism. This led to a job in PR and then digital communications, before a move into tech. A series of managerial roles eventually saw Jenny move to SQLI Nordics, where she is now Chief of Operations.  A career spanning 20 years in tech and digital, including vast international experience, gives her a unique insight into the industries.