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Don’t be afraid, have courage and enjoy it!

Part of the Gaia-X Voices: Women in Tech campaign

Martina Le Gall Maláková, President of the Industrial Innovation Cluster and Coordinator of Gaia-X Hub Slovakia discussed her journey in tech, highlighting challenges as a woman and advocating for diversity. Her utopian superpower dream involves the creation of a fair and sustainable digital world.


Can you introduce yourself, your role in the Gaia-X community, and your current position in the tech sector?

My name is Martina Le Gall Maláková, and I am from Slovakia in the middle of Europe. As the President of the Industrial Innovation Cluster, where Gaia-X Hub Slovakia was established, I participate in several projects focused on innovation in industry, mobility, and other sectors.

The President of the Industrial Innovation Cluster is also the Coordinator of Gaia-X Hub Slovakia. Through my international representations at Business at OECD, Business Europe and the last year in the IGF MAG at the UN focused on digital transformation and the data economy, I heard about the Gaia-X initiative very early. Our Hub was established as the second Hub in the world overall, still with the help of the German Ministry of Economic Affairs. As I mentioned Gaia-X Hub Slovakia was established by IIC together with the Ministry of Investments, Regional Development, and Informatization of the Slovak Republic (MIRRI).

Can you briefly walk us through your career journey in technology/science, highlighting key milestones and experiences? Were there specific moments that significantly influenced your career path?

For my studies I chose economics, but I have always been inclined towards mathematics and natural sciences, so later, when I managed an international SME for over 20 years for the design and implementation of electrical installations, I completed my technical education at the Slovak University of Technology and obtained the necessary certificates in high and low voltage.

Subsequently, as President of the French-Slovak Chamber of Commerce, I accompanied the President of the Slovak Republic, Mr. Andrej Kiska, on his first-ever visit to France in 2016, during which the agenda was exclusively focused on innovation.

After arriving home, I was eager to transfer this innovation potential to Slovakia and so, together with other partners, I founded the Industrial Innovation Cluster, which last year received the “Golden Cluster in Slovakia” certificate.

Through IIC I got to the digital transformation of industry, and it was just a step away from the data economy according to European rules, which means sharing data according to FAIR principles and always being in control of it. That’s how I was captivated by the vision of Gaia – X.

What challenges have you encountered as a woman in the tech industry, and how did you overcome them?

I think we’re all going to be repeating ourselves on this one. It’s not always easy being in a technically male team, but it always depends on each person’s approach individually. Sometimes a woman is more able to let you know you don’t belong in that collective than a man.

What surprised me the most was that today, because of the demands of gender equality, many people claim and support gender equality, but their mindset is different.

So, you must be careful whether some supportive statements and gestures from male and female colleagues are sincere.

How have I dealt with this? I try to be empathetic and listen to people more than I talk about myself, and I try to always be positive and passionate about a good cause.

So, I pulled myself into this fight to break the cliché that technology is mainly a man’s weapon of truth, positivity, collaboration, and honesty and motivates men to believe us.

I know, it’s not much in vogue today…. 🙂

Who are some of your role models or sources of inspiration in the tech/science field? How important do you think it is for women to have strong female role models in the industry?

Honestly, I don’t have any idols. I try to combine the best of each. Everyone has their good and bad sides.

In the context of the 2024 theme, “Inspire Inclusion,” why do you think diversity and inclusion are crucial in the tech and science sectors?

Diversity and inclusion are important in all sectors today and I think it has always been important. We just need to work towards it. These two words are very negatively perceived today, people are becoming allergic to them. Even as a mother of three children, I can say that today, if we want to use the potential and talent of all people because knowledge and experience allow us to do so, it would be a betrayal of ourselves and our future if we did not do so.

I think that, especially in the current climate crisis, but also in the value crisis and partly in the impact economic crisis, it is very important to use the talents, and skills of the maximum population in the technical sciences and in smart technologies to solve these issues and challenges.

The clock is ticking, so we all need to work out how to use modern technology to maintain a sustainable life for the future of humanity.

What advice would you give to young women and girls aspiring to enter the STEM fields? How can women support and uplift each other in the male-dominated tech/science industry?

To not be afraid, to take courage and enjoy it!

They will be doing important and rewarding work and it is therefore important that the female element is represented.

Surely, they can and will handle the other joys of life such as family, time to themselves or couple time and other shared or personal interests.

And when they get negative, tired, or depressed, or they are not doing well or someone hurts them, I am sure they will find strength in themselves, in friends, in family, in nature, to keep going, and we must keep going.

On a lighter note, if you could choose a superpower to make your work in tech even more incredible, what would it be, and how would it help you tackle the challenges of the digital world?

If I had superpower, I would give only good qualities to everyone and create an ideal world for us to live in a fair digital, natural green and sustainable world in the future.

But I guess that’s utopia, but as a goal, it’s not bad, is it? 😊