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International Women's Day: aspirational women working in IT

Astrid Wieland studied business at IMC Krems and went on to find her true calling: a top job at Microsoft. To mark International Women’s Day 2021, the manager gives an insight into her chosen path, which she hopes will inspire young women to aim for a career in tech. #TheNewITGirls – a group dedicated to promoting women in IT is lending a helping hand.

Astrid Wieland Portrait

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, the manager gives an insight into her chosen path, which she hopes will inspire young women to aim for a career in tech. #TheNewITGirls – a group dedicated to promoting women in IT is lending a helping hand.

A career to aspire to

After completing her school leaving certificate at the Hertha-Firnberg-Schule in Vien na, she went on to study on the Export-oriented Management  programme at IMC Krems. She also completed a double diploma at the Rouen Business School in France before graduating with a master degree in International Business and Export from IMC FH Krems. It was during her master programme that she made what would prove to be a decisive career move: joining one of the big players – Microsoft – in 2014. Wieland started out in consumer marketing and has now been working as a business applications specialist for a year and a half.

During her time at IMC Krems, it was her experiences abroad that left the greatest impression on her, the IT manager reveals. Looking back, she would recommend a part-time study programme to other women. It might be time consuming and make significant claims on personal resources, but the networking opportunities and real-world exchange are priceless. “I would definitely choose to study at IMC Krems again!”, Wieland confirms.

#TheNewITGirls

As a woman working in IT, Wieland is all-too familiar with the issues facing females who choose to pursue technical careers. In 2019 she founded #TheNewITGirls – a group dedicated to promoting women in IT – with Doris Schlaffer, who also works in the sector. “As a woman joining the industry from outside, I often found I was the only female participant in events or meetings,” Wieland explains. “So my co-founder Doris Schlaffer and I set off in search of other women in IT, or #ITGirls if you like. We were able to find a number of networks for IT workers, but none that specifically brought women together in any meaningful way beyond their job titles. So we decided to set up #TheNewITGirls in 2019.” 

With 17% of study places in IT and engineering accounted for by women in 2020, Austria still falls short of the EU average. And now the successful IT manager is aiming to reframe the conversation: “Our goal is to publicise the commercial and social advantages of promoting diversity in the IT industry, draw attention to the sheer range of different job opportunities out there and inspire more women to take up careers in IT as a result. Our target is to empower 10,000 women by 2025,” says Wieland, confirming her ambitious plans. Kindling an interest in technical subjects among girls and women has to happen as early as possible, and at the same time there need to be role models who show how it is done and provide assistance with networking. And that is exactly what #TheNewITGirls offers: a network that brings women in IT together, whatever area they are working in, while empowering them and raising their profile with a view to encouraging women to choose a career in IT. “We wanted to create a safe space where women can compare notes on their day-to-day experiences, share their expertise and learn from each other,” says Wieland, explaining her motives. “Diversity and inclusion are subjects that are very close to my heart. I firmly believe that we can achieve so much more by working together than on our own – and we need all of our voices to be heard for that. We can only accomplish great things if we listen to and learn from one another, and actively include the voices of those in society who often go unheard,” she notes. 

All for one and one for all

The measures initiated by the organisation include monthly meet-ups which provide a stage where women from the community can share their expertise with other women, while also honing their presentation skills in a safe environment. “We also set up a series of technical workshops with the goal of improving women’s self confidence in situations such as finding that they are the only female in a meeting where men are throwing around technical terms like confetti,” Wieland added. At the same time, #TheNewITGirls is also committed to helping women to appreciate and embrace their own abilities more. To do this, regular #IamRemarkable workshops are held to give women more space to thrive, increase their visibility, and instil them with the belief that they are already remarkable in the first place.