At the annual Women in Tech Conference in Stockholm on March 6, Nasdaq will join major tech companies, seasoned professionals and aspiring young talents in conversations on how to make the tech industry a more inclusive place for women to advance their careers.
Ahead of the event, Nasdaq caught up with Elin Eriksson, director at Women in Tech, and Klara Kröger Nygren, head of UX & Design at Nasdaq Market Technology, on their careers and advice for women in technology.
What is the mission of Women in Tech?
Elin: We’ve been around for seven years now, and the format constantly evolves. Women in Tech was founded by Swedish tech companies with the mission to recognize and support their female colleagues and simultaneously attract more women to the industry. What started as an industry initiative has grown organically year by year. Our mission remains the same: inspire more women to join the tech industry, and support more women to stay in the tech industry.
By providing a platform, network and role models, we want to inspire seasoned professionals and aspiring talents to imagine a future in tech and encourage businesses to work toward a more inclusive industry. A network is incredibly valuable if you are the first or only woman in a workplace as it can be a sounding board and a door opener and provide mentorship opportunities. Role models are extremely powerful as they can show young talent career trajectories that they don’t necessarily know are possible for them.
Klara, as a manager in the software industry, what does a platform like Women in Tech mean for you?
Klara: I’ve held different managerial positions throughout my career in the fintech industry. At Nasdaq, I’m Head of UX Design for Nasdaq Market Technology. My team and I work at the intersection of human experience and technological development as we design technically complex products while ensuring usability.
An arena like Women in Tech is essential to evolve our industry. It creates networks for like-minded people to connect while it promotes successful role models for us all to aspire to. Women in Tech is one of the arenas that gathers stakeholders, elevates the discussions and inspires people to come together toward a common goal.
How has this discussion evolved these past years?
Elin: The way we talk about women in technology has certainly evolved since our inception. Our mission is as important as ever, but the discussion has become more complex. What used to be a discussion about getting more women to join the industry now centers on how we motivate women to stay, how corporations can evolve to attract more women in order to increase their talent pool, and how we can create diverse teams to transform company culture and boost revenue. The discussion has progressed and become multi-faceted as the equality and diversity aspects have grown more intertwined with overall company strategies.
Klara: I’m fortunate that I have always worked with terrific teams and fantastic colleagues. Nonetheless, you still have to work very hard to make yourself heard. At the beginning of my career, I often stood out as one of the only female colleagues around. The culture in the industry has evolved, of course, and I see progress. Nowadays, I see more women showing interest in working in tech, and people I encounter are more cognizant. The discussions about inclusion are more prevalent.
How do you see companies like Nasdaq contributing to the WIT mission?
Elin: Nasdaq is one of our sponsors that make it possible for attendees to join the conference free of charge. Our ambition is to have an open and available platform for everyone interested in joining. I want to highlight the generosity of our corporate partners in sharing best practices with each other and our members. They learn from each other and open their doors for our members to join the discussion.
What’s your advice to companies when it comes to inclusion and equality?
Elin: Companies need to be honest about their starting points. It’s okay to be flawed. We don’t expect anyone to be perfect from the start. I would say it is more important to be aware of the talents you successfully recruit to your workplace, and which skills you fail to attract. Realize that teams with diverse experiences and backgrounds build the best products and services. To expand your talent pool is to futureproof your business.
Klara: In my role as a manager, I make an effort to be mindful of the workplace composition and to be aware of my own unconscious biases. I try to encourage everyone I work with to have an extra pair of glasses on to assess themselves honestly in everyday situations where biases may arise. I appreciate that companies nowadays are much more conscious about inclusion and equality, and it’s imperative that the industry continues to evolve in the right direction.
What’s your advice to other women who are looking to join the tech industry, and what piece of advice would you give to your 20-year old self?
Klara: I joined the fintech industry as an engineer with a Master of Science degree in interaction and design. At that time, it was rare to come across a woman in the engineering programs at the universities. That motivated me even harder. A driving force for me has always been to question the status quo and go against the stream. When reflecting upon my learnings after more than a decade in this inspiring yet challenging industry, I would encourage others to stop doubting themselves. So, my advice would be to believe in yourself – just go for it. It’s okay to be wrong, move forward anyway and don’t be anxious about not having all the perfect answers.
Elin: For the women today, I would say: This is your time. If you find yourself in a context where the company doesn’t understand how valuable a female graduate is – search for opportunities elsewhere. The marketplace belongs to you, and there are plenty of alternatives out there that would appreciate your skill sets.
If I look back and could give one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be: take the opportunity to learn as much as you can. Constant learning is key to your growth and progress.
What do you most look forward to at this year’s conference?
Klara: As a UX Designer, I’m definitely looking forward to the panel discussion on Designing a Society for Everybody, and the panel discussion on AI and Sustainability. Besides that, I’m looking forward to joining the conversation in an environment with lots of energy and competent people who are looking to expand their horizons and advance their careers.