On March 8th, Stockholm hosted the most important event of the year for women in tech in Sweden: Women in Tech 2016. Enthusiasm and excitement were in no short supply. The 1000 free tickets to the event sold out in 20 minutes, and a record 8,500 women registered interest for the event.
The event was hosted and moderated by Paulina Modlitba Söderlund and Jennifer Råsten, among other panel moderators, who were fantastic choices, as they have both long been leaders for gender equality in tech. They came out pretending to be the Daft Punk duo, which was a fun and entertaining start to the conference.
The most important messages of the day were that tech is for everyone, that all business is rapidly becoming tech-related, so for the future, tech is the place to be, and finally, that anyone and everyone can find a place in tech, and even learn programming if they so desire.
My favorite talk of the day was by one of King’s Candy Crush Producers, Annika Fogelgren. Her talk was focused on how to make a game. She also focused on the importance of having many voices in developing new things. She wants everyone to feel included in gaming: “There is room for you in this business.”
Picture: Annika Fogelgren presenting at WITShlm2016
One of her arguments was that if you’re involved in creating a product, you get to decide how it turns out: “If you were building the games, you could make them be more the way you want them to be.”
She talked about how much she loves her job, helping to create “moments of magic” in people’s lives, and having a great time doing it. She also talked about how meaningful it is to be able to impact 92 million people’s lives (that’s the amount of people who play Candy Crush everyday) - “you can reach out to all of these people.” She and many others throughout the day emphasized that at any point, people can decide to change their careers and enter into a completely different line of work.
Annie Thorell, a management consultant turned developer, talked about her experience as a management consultant who was jealous of her coder friends who were able to create something from scratch. So she switched careers and became a coder herself.
Panel "What we Love and Hate with Working in Tech" featuring Annie Thorell, Izabelle Back, Maral Biniazan and Alicia Rissler, moderated by Paulina Modlitba Söderlund
“Code is the tool that you use to build the things that you want to create.” She emphasized that “it’s never too late to switch. There are a lot who started working as developers quite late.”
Of course, another of the emphasises was on the fact that you don’t need to be a coder or an engineer to work in tech - and there were many strong examples throughout the day of women in tech who don’t fit the standard view of someone working in tech. I loved the advice from Anna Ottosson, CEO and Co-founder at Greta.io: “The perception that you need to have a PhD in engineering to work in tech is way too narrow.” She encourages everyone to get involved: “No matter what background you have, just dive right in and you’ll figure it out.”
The program is on the WITSthlm2016 website. Look through if you’re looking for fantastic role models in tech - there’s everything from founders, to CEOs, to coders, engineers, marketers, and everything in between. A very big thank you to all the event’s sponsors, and all the planners, for making the day wonderful: Spotify, Google, TeliaSonera, Schibsted Media Group, Bonnier, King, MTG, iZettle, Betsson Group, Klarna, Sigma, Snow and Valtech.
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