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19 November 2019

Working as a woman in IT

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Audrey-Briffod-femme-IT Suisse

In Switzerland, some areas of activity have very few women in their workforce. With only 20%, IT is one of them.


At a time when gender parity is a debatable issue, one may wonder why the rate is so low. Are women voluntarily excluded from academic courses? Is it a willingness of managers and employers to dismiss them? Are they fleeing the IT field because of a lack of consideration?

To answer these questions, it is first necessary to look at the IT market in general. Switzerland is characterized by a shortage of profiles in the IT professions. Recruiters have to “hunt” for potential candidates. It is not uncommon for students to be offered a position even before they graduate. Specialized courses are rare and do not provide enough graduates. If we then look at the composition of students cohorts, we see that the percentage of women is also extremely low: about 15%. There are few male candidates and even fewer female candidates.

This gender imbalance in enrolment is therefore simply a consequence of the lack of female students.


We can now ask ourselves why these courses do not attract female students. Quite simply because the IT professions are not well known to professors and students. The stereotype of the computer engineer, frail and pale, with no social life and stuck days and night behind a computer screen writing code, is wrong, yet deeply rooted in people’s minds. This vision very simplistic, is far from reality. IT is a very broad field with a multitude of professions, technologies and opportunities. There are many opportunities available to all.

Perhaps one day the workforce will become perfectly mixed… In the meantime, for the handful of women who have already chosen IT, it is necessary to know how to impose oneself and make their place among all these men. According to the companies, this is a more or less easy task.

I am woman and I’ve been working for several years in IT services, I have got used to working in this male universe. SERIAL which has employed me for almost 7 years has 160 employees (all fields combined) with only about 15 women.

A short while ago, one of my newly hired colleagues questioned Our Human Ressources Director about the very small number of women in the company and asked him what was being put in place to make the workforce more mixed. This comment made me think about it and I wondered if being so few was a problem for me. On reflection, the answer is NO. What would bother me would be not to be treated on an equal basis with my male colleagues, or to be subjected to inappropriate behavior.

Some companies have this mentality. I speak with full knowledge of the facts because one of the previous IT services companies I worked for was one of them: inappropriate jokes towards female employees, wage gaps, dismissals upon return from maternity leave, etc.

Today, I have the opportunity to work for a completely different company. At SERIAL, I am not considered differently because I am a woman, I am not subject to gender discrimination or harassment, my salary is aligned with that of my male colleagues, and 4 years ago, I lived my pregnancy serenely and the return from my leave was smooth. I am judged solely on my work, commitment and results, just like all other employees.

Fortunately, there are many other companies that operate like this.

So, yes, you can be a woman, flourish in your work, manage a successful career in IT and have a family life simultaneously . We can meet fair and upright managers who will not make us regret being born women, even in a sector with a high male predominance. Education, respect and integrity enable everyone to thrive and work in a healthy environment.

Par Audrey Briffod

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