“Women Are Highly Sought after in Technical Professions and Companies throughout the World”

“Women Are Highly Sought after in Technical Professions and Companies throughout the World”

Judith Bellaiche is Managing Director of the ICT business association Swico and a Member of the Swiss National Council for the Green Liberal Party. She is committed to the promotion and development of young talent and is convinced that men and women should be more or less equally represented in all professions. But we are still far from achieving this.

You were a lawyer and an entrepreneur. How did you end up in IT?

It was politics that brought me to IT. I started getting involved in start-ups and innovation in Switzerland years ago, and this then led me to issues regarding digitalization. I was utterly fascinated by this world and the opportunities it offers.

Why are women still significantly underrepresented in the IT sector nowadays?

Women are highly sought after in technical professions and companies throughout the world and have excellent career prospects. The fact that women are still underrepresented in the IT sector is linked to how we talk about working in IT to children and young people – from the time they begin school. People automatically associate IT with mathematics and tedious number-crunching, which can put people off. At the same time, IT can open up extremely creative and exciting career opportunities. We should talk about career profiles instead of subjects: Ultimately, young people do not study medicine because they enjoy cramming for biochemistry but because they want to save lives.

To what extent does upbringing contribute to role models?

The allocation of roles in the family is important, but so are role models outside the family. Today, it is still only a few girls who have a mother or an aunt who develops applications or heads an IT company. This will take time. Even at school, STEM subjects (the abbreviation STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are frequently taught by male teachers and not by women. In Switzerland, we are still surrounded by very traditional role models, other countries are ahead of us in this respect.

Start an IT Apprenticeship at SIX

An IT apprenticeship at SIX offers interested girls and boys two different training programs. Platform developers are responsible for the development and maintenance of IT infrastructures: Depending on their area of responsibility, they test servers, networks, PCs or software and in some cases write their own programs or extend device configurations. Application developers write programs, such as for accounting, production planning or payment transactions. They also assess problems and develop solutions. Having completed the course, the apprentices have the option of a professional future within the company.

What do you think of the Swiss education system?

It is sound and offers each and every child a path. Thanks to the dual educational principle, which combines academic and vocational studies, we have a particularly close-knit system of education that also provides scope for individuality. However, we have stood still in primary education. The same material is still being taught in schools as it was 50 years ago although our world has changed out of all recognition.

Where is there scope for improvement?

We must teach relevant content that is completely missing from the curriculum at present. Of course, this includes digital skills as well as how to deal with money or the law, or the fundamentals of economics and politics. Basic knowledge of entrepreneurship should be taught in vocational colleges. The traditional idea that you will find a job at some point in the future and work for the same company for 40 years is completely out of date. It is vital that we teach young people skills that they can then transform into career profiles. These include technical and technological knowledge as well as social skills.

What are you doing to ensure women are better represented in the IT sector?

I raise public awareness of the sector, as a speaker or as a panelist. I give interviews and get involved in discussions and, even more importantly, I try to encourage women to network.