Kristina and Cæcilie combine hardcore IT skills with girl-power
Kristina Ivanova and Cæcilie Johansen want to be part of the next generation of IT technologists who actively influence the future of technology. They encourage more women to choose a future-proof IT programme.
The IT Technology classrooms in the basement of Business Academy Aarhus are a playground of wires and electronic components, Lego robots and soldering machines. The students speak quietly while they carefully solve tasks involving circuit boards and screens.
27-year-old Kristina (on the left) and 25-year-old Cæcilie (on the right) are both first year IT Technology students and the only two women in their year. Neither of them were concerned about choosing an occupation, which many see as male.
‘On a daily basis, we don’t think bout being a minority. It’s more about having fun and learning something, not whether we are male or female,’ say Danish Cæcilie Johansen and Bulgarian Kristina Ivanova.
Learnt about IT recently
Both Kristina and Cæcilie are studying IT without having worked in the field before. And, unlike many of their fellow students they have not previously fiddled with computers nor sat and coded into the early morning.
‘So you can follow the programme, even though you aren’t a computer nerd or have programmed before,’ says Cæcilie.
‘The programme is for everyone, including beginners,’ stresses Kristina.
That Kristina and Cæcilie chose an IT programme was fairly random. Cæcilie started studying Japanese at another university but dropped out after a year. It just wasn’t me. Instead she tried a 3-day trial period at Business Academy Aarhus and was totally convinced that this is where she should be.
‘Where I come from, IT and girls do not mix. At school I was very bookish and good at sport. I have always been fascinated by inventing things and learning how things work. I can really use this creative urge in the IT field,’ says Cæcilie.
Bachelor degree from another university
Kristina has a BA in geology, but didn’t feel it was quite right. Through her sister and boyfriend, who were both IT students at Business Academy Aarhus, she heard about IT Technology and was encouraged to apply.
‘Initially, I thought I would never be able to figure out all this IT stuff. But you don’t need to have experience with programming to be good with IT. I can easily keep up with the teaching and can solve assignments as well as those who have sat in front of a screen their whole life,’ Kristina points out.
The pro who fixes computers and networks
There have been several successful experiences for the girls since they started studying.
‘The feeling you get when you start understanding how computers and web servers are built, and how networks and systems work is very satisfying,’ they both agree.
Cæcilie brags about how she has become the family’s computer expert and is often contacted by her in-laws asking her to secure their networks and fix their computers. She also gets the urge to open up and look into the control systems of the big info screens at hospitals and train stations just to see how they are built-up.
‘IT is not just about numbers and codes. It is also a creative profession, where you get to create something that makes a difference to other people. The area is super exciting, because creativity goes hand in hand with logical thinking.’
Life outside the Academy
A lot of the IT students are gamers in their spare time. And Cæcilie and Kristina are no exception, they both love to play pc games and Xbox. But they also like to immerse themselves in Science Fiction and Fantasy books and play board games. Or work out at a gym.
‘For many, IT is their hobby. This is not the case for us. We are very aware of also having offline lives.’
Find creative solutions for society
Both Kristina and Cæcilie have begun to think about their job possibilities once they have completed their programme. Both know that IT security and IT in general are areas that will experience labour shortages in the future. So, they are not afraid of being unemployed.
‘In many ways it is like the Wild West. There is so much to further develop. Particularly in relation to the environment. Like for instance server farms, which emit so much heat that is not exploited,’ says Cæcilie, who would like to work with product development in a big company such as Cisco or Terma.
‘My dream is to work with AI (Artificial Intelligence). I love the idea that I will be helping to create the future and will discover meaningful, digital solutions for societal problems.’
Kristina would like to work with complex network solutions for example as a network administrator in a large company.
‘It would be mega cool one day to be the person that blocks IT threats and prevents hacker attacks.’
Up to date
Their enthusiasm for IT is easy to see. The programme does not always quench their thirst for knowledge though. So, in their free time, they read academic articles and listen to podcasts on hacking.
‘It’s super exciting to keep up with all the new IT trends and technologies - Internet of Things, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence,’ says Cæcilie.
‘I’ve always been curious about how the world’s many network and electronic systems work. So, at home I often entertain myself by removing and reinstalling different operating systems and adjusting my computer’s hardware,’ says Kristina.
For many years it has been a recurring issue, in both the business sector and educational sectors, that the IT industry needs a lot more people. The EU has estimated that by 2020, there will be a shortage of 800,000 programmers.
In Denmark, an analysis by the Danish Business Authority indicates that by 2030, Denmark will be short 19,000 IT specialists. This is where more women, educated in IT would help solve the problem. So by choosing an IT programme, you will not only have great job security, but you will also play an important part in the design of society in the future is the parting advice from these pioneering young ladies.
‘We are proud that we are unique players within this field. We add to something that is missing. The IT world is short of women. Technology needs women and their perspective. But we feel that things are changing and that more women are staring to wake up to this.’