In the EU, only 17% of all employees in information and communications technology (ICT) are female specialists. The senior roles in leading ICT companies are often taken by male professionals too. However, the current job market trends may signalise an upcoming change: more and more women are interested in technology and engineering. Some of them start considering this career path at school whereas others tend to change their ongoing careers due to better prospects.
Women Go Tech, a Lithuanian mentorship scheme focusing on female retraining towards tech, is also following the growing interest in tech, coming from women exactly. “Since 2017, the number of applications to our scheme has grown five times. Female professionals are really willing to choose coding, data analytics, engineering, and other similar pathways. They are also intensively looking for new career opportunities in tech companies, which conclude into leading senior roles. Such inspiring examples are slowly becoming casual: it would be great that the rest of our society could notice them too,” says Jarūnė Preikšaitė, Board Member at Women Go Tech.
There are quite many female professionals in the leading roles across the largest technology firms in Lithuania. Today, we’re speaking to three of them: Eglė Dubauskė, Head of Production Quality at HELLA Lithuania, Aliona Viršutienė, Director of Engineering at Vinted, and Dovilė Morkvėnaitė, Head of Portfolio Management Division at Ignitis.
Eglė Dubauskė has been fascinated by technology and quantitative sciences since high school times. As a result, she graduated from Industrial Engineering and Management, and decided to seek a career in quality engineering. Eglė is counting the fourth year in her workplace: having started from the general engineering role, she’s currently the Head of Production Quality.
“I’m excited that I go to work everyday and know that this day won’t be monotonic or similar to yesterday. The pace and range of situations encourage me to do better while looking for new solutions how to improve our goals,” claims our interviewee. In the context of the company, her team is responsible for the implementation of the requirements and standards provided by the customer, ensuring the overall quality of the product.
What helped this young professional to become successful in the world of technology? Speaking of her own experience, Eglė names constructive thinking and a desire for continuous improvement. She mentions personal qualities, rather than already-gained skills or education when talking about women who’re just considering or starting a career in the industry. “I work together with many women without any engineering background. Their motivation, activity, desire to learn and courage to take on challenges are really inspiring.” Eglė also emphasizes that during her career, she has met many inspiring women who’ve chosen the field of technology, including university coursemates and fellow executives who’re always ready to help with any issues arising.
For over a decade, Dovilė has been working at the energy company Ignitis. She got a job right after graduating from energy studies, and her list of achievements includes the position of Head of Sales and Planning, which this young female professional reached in just over three years of her career. Under her belt, Dovilė also has another three years of leading the team responsible for electricity trading and developing new activities that contribute to a greener tomorrow.
The interviewee marks that work in the energy sector is extremely stressful as the decisions made on a daily basis can determine the direct results of the company: “One mistake can lead to losses worth millions. So we pay a lot of attention to details and personal responsibilities,” says Dovilė. But these struggles aren’t the dealbreaker at all: “My day in the office doesn’t really end at 5 in the evening. Due to the specifics of work, there are many situations when I have to return to work on weekends, holidays or even at night. Power supply is an uninterrupted process! At the beginning of my career, when I was working on the planning and trading of power plants, I also had to get up at night in case any power plant stopped working. But the sense of responsibility has always been driving me. I love facing challenges as well as solving them greatly and quickly. ”
Dovilė remembers that she faced the stereotypes about women in the world of technology even in Scandinavia, famous for liberalism and gender equality. “During one business trip, my manager introduced me to some colleagues from Norway. At that time, I was the main person working in trade in our Lithuanian branch. The Norwegian team members were really surprised that the leading trader was a woman,” the interviewee recalls. However, she adds that this event only encouraged her to keep working on the career in energy further: “I realized that I was moving towards the right direction and I could do even better. All in all, it was a great motivation.”
The Head of Portfolio Management Division at Ignitis is excited about the opportunity to learn from women leaders in her workplace: “My company has a long-term employee who actually was the one hiring me too. We both had a very similar field of study and career: as my colleague spent over 15 years in the company, successfully climbing the career ladder, it really inspires me! Besides inspiration, it’s great proof that there’s no need to change jobs when you are given all conditions to grow and improve within one company. After all, not many people are doing what they love the most!”
Aliona has been working for the Lithuanian startup Vinted for almost a year. Here, she leads the engineering team. “In addition to working with our team, we also maintain close contact with colleagues working in product, analysis and design. Meanwhile, my main goal is to ensure that the composition of all teams as well as the product and its functionality are of the best quality.” As an important part of daily work, Alina also mentions efficiency and safety as these aspects are inseparable from product development and positive user experience.
Unlike other interviewees, Vinted’s engineering lead came in technology unexpectedly. Having graduated with a degree in social sciences, this female professional worked in project management. Also, Aliona was quite skeptical about pursuing a career in an industry that was typically associated with masculinity as well as the work experience she didn’t have. “I really didn’t think I could apply my soft skills there.” she said. However, Aliona was eventually persuaded by her best friend: “I was convinced that this role was worth a try. After all, my experience in managerial work was extensive, and I had nothing to lose.”
The undiscovered world of technology fascinated Aliona at first sight, and her personal qualities were ideal for this industry. The interviewee emphasizes not only the opportunity to contribute to important change but also the creativity that is essential for working with innovation. “I was always looking for new ways to improve existing processes as well as create something new. Technology is an ideal place to do it all. ”
While the number of women leaders in technology is growing, Aliona notes that many changes are still necessary in this area. She hints on the lack of positive examples and role models. “You would probably name a male tech leader easier than a female one.” Based on her personal experience, Aliona says that apart from well-known and visible colleagues, the ones surrounding a professional everyday should be recognised and bring a great influence: “People who celebrate development and collaboration are crucially important for anyone seeking their career goals in technology,” says she.