Author: Leen Cuypers
On a day like today, you can’t miss the original quotes and pictures on social media, complimenting and encouraging daughters, mothers and wives.
This somehow triggered me to reflect on women’s role in society and on my own life as a woman, mother of 2 wonderful little girls, wife and entrepreneur.
My thoughts brought memories to the women I worked with in Colombia as a 22-years old. As war victims, they had lived through the worst of times and had lost many of their beloved ones, still, they were able to look forward and play an active role in the peace process. I will never forget their resilience, persistence and strength.
The past, today & the future
More than a century ago, the foundations of the current women’s day, were laid, when women started a strike to petition safer work and better salary conditions as well as to fight against sexual intimidation. We have undoubtedly come a long way since then, and I can’t show enough gratitude to all women who acted and brought us where we are now. From explicitly standing on the barricades to more implicitly teaching their sons to treat women equally and respectful, all of these women shaped the reality in which I got the chance to study and do what I like in life. This being said, a bumpy road full of challenges remains ahead of us. When looking further in the future, I can’t help but wondering what ‘gender equality’ will mean when my little ones are grown-ups and how the #metoo era will be perceived by then.
As an entrepreneur in a male-dominated tech industry, I can see many benefits of having a more balanced gender representation. The European Union as well as governments have launched campaigns to attract women into tech jobs and many groups exist on a global scale to support women in tech. I am a strong supporter to the efforts taken to break stereotypes and to stimulate people to find out what really interests them. I strongly believe that is the foundation for a healthy and long-lasting career. A great example in this sense, focused on the STEM professions, is the LuxKids Lab, with the aim to cultivate children’s passion for science and action. Such an initiative is in my opinion a great way to break the stereotypical gender roles and to show girls there are no limits when they want to follow their passion.
The bigger picture in tech
With technology taking an ever more important role in our lives and in society in general and with the technology industry growing increasingly, I think it is however important to look in another way at the career possibilities in it. Are engineers and IT specialists the only profiles the technology industry needs? Do we need to enrol our girls in coding courses? The answer is in both cases no, unless of course your little one shows a genuine interest in coding! In our company, we are very proud not to all have a tech background. We are proud to have a team of people with many different back grounds, all bringing a very distinct approach and view. It takes more than technology to create a digital success story, as technology is but a solution to a problem. In order to create a successful solution to that specific problem, valuable skills are irrefutable the comprehension of the wider problem context, the ability to extract and define the root cause and understanding the impact of the implementation.
To all the girls out there, and especially to my two favourite ones, my deepest wish for you is to be able to create a life path that is in sync with who you are. Whether you want to be a scientist, an entrepreneur, a nurse or a housewife… do what YOU feel like doing, don’t let anyone turn you down, look through the stereotypes and break them when needed.