The issue of gender preferences in IT has been on board for a long time. Male specialists currently hold around 85% of IT staff in Ukraine. However, more women are getting committed to various directions in IT and doing their job no worse than male experts. Moreover, female representatives can bring up new experiences and leadership skills into the IT space of Ukraine. Sergey Tokarev, Roosh Founding Partner and Reface investor, mentioned the importance of female IT specialists in Ukraine in his column on UP. Zhyttia. Also, the IT entrepreneur shared insights on how to help women follow their dreams and get motivated to become qualified IT specialists.
Sergey Tokarev emphasizes that many girls are scared to kickstart their career in IT because of some stereotypes, considering IT a “male” industry. It is possible to hear from many people that girls choose IT in order to find a husband or they can work only as HR or QA engineers there. Such assumptions are not fair towards the female part of the nation. This makes them feel frightened and give up on trying their best in this industry. On the other hand, the industry itself loses great valuable personnel. This has already led to a lack of specialists. Such an issue is specifically found in AI, ML, data science, and cybersecurity.
In order to find solutions, Sergey Tokarev suggests creating thematic clubs and communities where they can receive encouragement from like-minded people and get motivated to move forward in IT. The businessman exemplifies the initiative SHE is SCIENCE, launched by NGO STEM is FEM, to inspire girls to build a career in STEM. According to this project, participants could learn more about the career of 12 Ukrainian female scientists. Among them were Olga Perevozchikova, a scientist who participated in creating state programming standards in Ukraine, and Kateryna Yushchenko, a programmer who created a formal language for addressable programming.
In addition, such projects allow girls to immerse themselves in IT in practice. This year, STEM is FEM, in partnership with the Swiss organization Empowerment Lab and with the support of Oracle, has launched free IT courses for girls aged 12-16. Students can get access to classes on Machine Learning, Data-driven web apps, and App prototyping. The mentors of the courses are experienced women in IT.
Along with helpful initiatives, there is a necessity to keep girls’ eagerness for IT, having on offer appropriate high education. Once they decide what IT area they want to thrive in, Sergey Tokarev believes a specific educational institution like SET University is the best solution to consider. This entity specializes exclusively in technology and organizes different courses for teenagers. Such courses are aimed at both boys and girls, yet female participants make up 30% of the overall number of course attendees. But the Roosh investor underlines a great demand for IT among girls. That’s why the university intends to launch scholarship programs for girls.
Sergey Tokarev highlights another crucial point that lies in supporting girls in building a career in IT. One of the best tools to achieve it is to create professional communities where IT women can grow and polish up their skills and knowledge. AI HOUSE is one of such communities. It is an initiative that unites Ukrainian and foreign AI and ML specialists and arranges training for them. The entrepreneur believes that the percentage of women in IT will significantly increase when developing educational opportunities for them.