Did you know that the world's first software engineer was a woman? And that without her, humanity's greatest adventure would never have taken place? Her name is Margaret Hamilton, and she was responsible for developing the flight software which was used for the moon landing in the Apollo mission.
Hamilton is a pioneer of information technology. She developed groundbreaking concepts for asynchronous and priority-controlled programs which, to this day, still serve as the foundation for every highly reliable software architecture. 50 years ago, a woman succeeding this way in a male-dominated field was a huge deal. Today, things have changed completely – or so you'd think.
These days, no one is shocked to see women successfully working in technical fields. Yet you still don't come across them very often: Despite making up just about half of the workforce, women only account for 17% of the IT sector in Germany. When we examine what's happening in education across all areas of STEM, the trend is even more extreme: Nine of out ten young people who opt for a career in science or technology are men.
The reasons for this disparity are varied and hotly debated in politics and society. But just talking about it does nothing to change the situation, because the numbers have remained constant for many years. "If it's about taking down barriers and making technical careers more attractive to women, we can't afford to wait for the big political solutions. We have to take the initiative ourselves," says Nicole Müller, Chief Brand & People Officer at COSMO CONSULT.
Taking the initiative – that's the precisely what the Microsoft partner community is doing through their initiative, "Women in Dynamics". The program helps Microsoft Dynamics 365 suppliers and partner companies worldwide to foster diversity at all levels. In light of the fact that women in particular remain underrepresented, the activities are primarily focused on gender diversity.
Doing away with outdated stereotypes, encouraging and actively supporting young women – it all starts with corporate culture. Women in Dynamics provides a set of guidelines and lots of practical solutions for establishing a new awareness throughout the company. But this is not a program that operates from the top down. "Mutual attentiveness, a prejudice-free environment, the freedom to develop and apply your own talent – these things have to be supported and practiced by the whole company," emphasizes Nicole Müller.
The more companies that join the initiative, the easier and more "normal" it will become for women to find fulfillment in supposedly male fields. At COSMO CONSULT, however, this is preaching to the choir: "Since our foundation, our company has been committed to the idea of human technology. When it comes to digital progress, our focus is on people, not roles or positions," explains Uwe Bergman, CEO of COSMO CONSULT. "And we're aware that the only way we're going to be able to meet the major challenges of our times is by activating the creative energies and abilities of all people."