#1 The moment you realize it's suddenly about something completely different
*translated from german
Welcome to "My typical Working Day @ siticom", a blog series by and with me, Amelie Weber, in which I interview a colleague from different areas of siticom about their typical working day. It's about professional background, responsibilities, opinions about home office. But sometimes, like today, there comes this moment when you realize that it's suddenly about something completely different than originally planned - women in IT.
For my very first contribution to this series, I have my colleague Tanja Lintner, QGIS Developer at siticom, as my guest today.
A: Hello Tanja, so tell me, I really can't imagine what you actually do at our company. I only know that you have been with us since the beginning of the year.
T: Yes, I still don't really know what I do. [laughs] I'm Tanja Lintner, I studied geography, then I did an apprenticeship as a tourism clerk. Then, in a roundabout way, I found the job at the competitor and there I was basically the "girl for everything". I was a back-office employee for construction and supported my site manager, worked as a planner, and then trained as a project manager. I also did a bit of bookkeeping on the side.
A: Oh, that sounds exciting.
T: I've been at siticom since the beginning of the year, initially supporting the accounting Telekom tasks of a colleague who is now doing a semester abroad. At the same time, I am also involved with other clients, both in planning and structuring. We are currently in the process of switching from AutoCAD to QGIS*, which is both challenging and exciting.
A: That's actually quite a lot that you do. What does your typical workday look like?
T: My typical workday always starts at around 6:00 a.m.
A: Oh wow, that early?
T: Yes, so I can finish work earlier. [laughs] The first thing I do is look at all the new Telekom orders that have come in and then feed them into our system. Apart from the usual mails and small things, I mainly work on our Telekom project, e.g. entering measurements in our system, etc. Once I've done that, I can also prepare the invoices for the accounting department and coordinate the planning activities for other customers, obtain line information, in other words, the normal planning activities. And I'm actually also in the home office 100% of the time. I live in Würzburg and the closest geographical location is Weiterstadt. When things are going well, I'm on the road for 2 ½ hours by bus and train.
A: Okay, that's a really long way. What are the advantages of working from home? Other than the long commute you would have?
T: There are so many of them. For one thing, working undisturbed. I can just put my phone on silent for half an hour and get my work done without being disturbed. Then personally: I have two cats and that is just insanely life-enriching for me when someone suddenly comes and briefly wants your attention and to be stroked. That also lets me switch off for a moment and think about something else. And then also in terms of perspective: I'm getting married in two weeks and in the next 2 to 3 years I'll be planning a family with children. Home office and flexible working hours were a reason for me to switch to siticom. I now have my work-life balance even more under control and have the opportunity to better organize family life, which is coming up at some point. Especially when you're a woman in the IT industry [laughs].
A: I think especially the point about children or family in general is well covered with the work-life balance. Do you also see any disadvantages of home office?
T: I think that not every person is suitable for the home office, because social contact with colleagues then takes place at most, as with both of us, over the phone or via webcam. For many people, this interpersonal contact is missing. You meet briefly in the coffee kitchen and talk about more personal topics.
A: You just briefly mentioned working as a woman in the IT industry. It's a well-known fact that the proportion of men in the IT industry is higher. What do you think is the reason for that?
T: The traditional view is that the woman goes in the social or interactive direction, while the man sits in front of the laptop and programs. The main problem that most women may see is, "You have to stay on it." I realize that now with QGIS, too, once you're really out, you're out. You always have to stay up-to-date and see what's coming up, for example, with SQL (Structured Query Language). SQL is a language like English, if you don't speak it for a few years, it's very difficult to get back into it. However, I believe that this is now changing quite a lot, more and more women are entering the IT sector. Simply because society is rethinking the idea that men can also take parental leave and there is also the option of home office. As a result, many women can imagine pursuing such a profession without having to fear that they will be out after 2 years of parental leave.
A: Could you give some advice to the women out there who are a little bit afraid to start in the IT industry? For example, they might be afraid of getting nasty comments or maybe being treated unfairly.
T: I don't think I can formulate in a positive way what's on my mind right now. Unfortunately, previous experiences were not the best for me, once bitten, twice shy. The only thing I could say would be "Don't take it to heart, because you know how good you are!"
A: On the one hand, a really nice quote...
T: ...but it sounds so unsatisfying! [laughs]
A: I know that too, I have also received some unpleasant comments myself in the past. That wasn't easy, especially at the beginning. You're young, you get insecure and don't dare say anything against it. But you learn to deal with it over time and maybe even speak up.
T: Yes, exactly. I don't think you should be afraid of it. I don't think there is THE perfect job, whether for a woman or a man. If I'm a kindergarten teacher, people say, "Yeah, sure, she plays with kids all day long, that's zero responsibility.“ If I'm a teacher, "Ah well, she's only on vacation. She just does her lessons and that's it." As a woman in IT, I once heard the following during my apprenticeship: "I would have preferred to speak to Mr. XY. I generally only do that with gentlemen."
A: How did you deal with that?
T: Put it through and thought a**hole. [laughs]
A: That's the right attitude. [laughs]
T: I just can't grow a penis in a hurry right now. I have to show that I am worth it. So what I can do, that I can do it, and that I don't have to prove it to everyone. Sometimes I have the feeling that men do this because they feel threatened, in the sense of additional competition on the job market. But I also think that only those who are insecure about themselves do that.
A: I agree with you 100%!
T: But in the meantime I am above that. I know what I can do, I know who I am. At work, it's important that I make connections and I don't want to upset any customers, but at the end of the day, it's just a job
A: It's also said, "You work to live, not live to work."
T: Exactly. And that's why, as long as I'm happy in my private life, I can stand that there are people like that. [laughs]
A: But fortunately that's not the case with us. Or at least not known. At any rate, I haven't noticed anything yet. [laughs]
T: Nevertheless, I still have a bad gut feeling. For example, I had a small discussion with a colleague in which I was wondering (like I was wondering in many situations before) whether he would really take me seriously because I'm younger, a woman and have less professional experience. We clarified this afterwards and it turned out that it was simply a misunderstanding. I think most women feel that way, though. It's similar to the situation when a man walks past you and just says a polite "Hey, you look nice today" to you. Without ulterior motives. Most of the time you have these exclamation marks in your head "Ahh help, leave me alone!".
A: Yes, I know that too. Sometimes I also have the feeling that colleagues think to themselves "Well, let's let her talk" and don't take me seriously, even though it's not really like that. [laughs]
T: Yes, exactly. [laughs] I know that. And that's exactly why I think the best advice to women is simply to persevere. And think a**hole. For me personally, this saying is important: "Change it, love it, leave it" - If you can't change it and you don't love it then leave. Just because I have this job doesn't mean I have to be there forever.
A: Yeah, that's the right thing too! Like you said, it's ONLY A JOB. Thank you Tanja for your time and this conversation. It was a great pleasure for me.
*QGIS is a free geographic information system software for viewing, editing, capturing and analyzing spatial data. It is a user-friendly open-source geographic information system (GIS) licensed under the GNU (General Public License). With the help of QGIS, raw images can be converted into maps in which, for example, planned fiber optic routes can be mapped.
The interview was conducted by:
Marketing Manager, siticom GmbH