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The crucial aspect of the journey lies in developing self-confidence and avoiding comparisons with the typical male workforce!

From her early interest in mathematics and physics to overcoming gender biases in the corporate world, Emma’s insights provide valuable perspectives for navigating the male-dominated tech industry.


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

My Name is Emma Wehrwein. I am working as a Project Manager Digital Business Models at the eco – Association of the Internet Industry. Since 2020 I have been leading the German-funded project called “Gaia-X Federation Services”.

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?

In school, I preferred subjects such as mathematics, physics, and computer science. I appreciated the clarity and logic inherent in these fields. Following my schooling, I pursued a degree in Business Informatics while concurrently working for a large chemical company. I’ve always been drawn to science, particularly computer science, but my initial experiences in the IT industry were challenging.

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

As a woman working in a corporate setting dominated by men, I frequently faced verbal and non-verbal intimidation from my colleagues. Particularly as a young woman in my early twenties, I felt that I was often judged based on my appearance rather than my intellect. Honestly, I struggled greatly to navigate this situation. Being new to the workforce and lacking in self-esteem like many young people, especially while surrounded by predominantly older, white male coworkers, compounded the challenge. I attempted to build connections with a few other female coworkers and eventually found a solution by joining the only team predominantly composed of female employees, including a female boss. Ultimately, this only provided temporary relief, prompting me to pursue a master’s degree in business psychology and depart from the company. Following that, I was adamant about never returning to the IT industry and instead directing my attention towards HR. Fortunately, I later became acquainted with eco and my current supervisor, reigniting my passion for the tech sector.

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, most of my role models in the past have been men. I firmly believe in the importance of forming alliances with supportive male counterparts who actively champion equality and social justice alongside me. Personally, collaborating with strong male allies in the business realm has been instrumental in challenging and changing harmful gender dynamics and stereotypes. Additionally, a few years ago, I connected with an inspiring senior female manager who became my mentor. I gained valuable insights from her; she served as my emotional support, sounding board, and educator, and facilitated connections with other women in the tech industry. Women like her demonstrated that it is possible to establish oneself as an expert in technology as a female.

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?

Honestly, I believe that particularly for young women navigating the tech industry, the crucial aspect of the journey lies in developing self-confidence and avoiding comparisons with the typical male workforce. My mentor once enlightened me about the impostor syndrome, a phenomenon where individuals, especially women, feel like they don’t deserve praise for their achievements. Instead of feeling worthy, they feel fraudulent, as though they’re not truly skilled or competent. Despite their accomplishments, they can’t shake the fear of being exposed as impostors. There’s an insightful book on this topic called “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, which I highly recommend reading.