Zum Weltfrauentag: blackbee Gründerinnen im Interview

International Women’s Day: The tech sector needs more female founders!

The current German Startup Monitor shows that women are still in a minority in German startups.There are only just under 15 percent startup women in Germany. That proportion is growing steadily, but still very slowly. In 2013, when the study was carried out for the first time, the number of female founders stood at just 12.8 percent. Women seem to shy away from the tech sector in particular. Here, the share of female founders amounts to only 9 percent. In this case, however, the quantity says nothing about quality, since, in the long run, women are often even more successful than their male colleagues in setting up companies.

Women who found a company are still struggling with classic role models. The Vodafone Institute for Society and Communicationand Women in Digital e. V.have examined the situation of women founders in the German digital economy in more detailand asked them, among other things, about the biggest hurdles in founding a company. Over 86 percent of the female founders state that it is particularly difficult to get accepted in the form of self-presentation that is common in the male-dominated digital industry. Furthermore, the perceived disadvantages felt from investors and lenders (62 percent) and the lack of female mentors and female role models (58 percent) were also problematic, according to the respondents. Other hurdles mentioned were a lacking or deficient self-marketing, for example during the pitch (69 percent), male dominance in key networks and an absence of childcare facilities for self-employed women (67 percent each).

Tips from our founders: Remain brave and self-confident!

Our female founding team of Dr. Hanna Köpcke, Sabine Maßmannand Carina Röllighas shown that women can also be successful in a male-dominated industry– and this is what we want to celebrate today on International Women’s Day! Webdata Solutionswas launched in 2012 by these three self-confident women who were less concerned about their role and perception in the tech scene than their firm belief in their original idea. Meanwhile, the company with its market analysis software blackbeeis one of the fastest growing startups in Germany, employs around 40 people and has managed to convince four well-known investors.

At blackbee, the promotion of young women and female founders is also a top priority. Dr. Hanna Köpcke is distinguished, for example, by her many years of involvement in the Women’s Working Group at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Dortmundand was herself recently awarded the Digital Female Leader Awardin the tech category.Sabine Maßmann has been a member of the Alumni Association of the Foundation of German Businesssince 2005 and supported as part of the “Entrepreneurship Challenge” project a young team, led by two women, in its foundation. Carina Röllig also regularly advocates for young female entrepreneurs – for example in a speech for the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy. Webdata Solutions will once again be taking part in this year’s Girls’ Dayto get young females interested in the tech sector.

Our female founding team of Dr. Hanna Köpcke, Sabine Maßmann and Carina Röllig

Dr. Hanna Köpcke, Sabine Maßmann and Carina Röllig met in the research laboratory “Web Data Integration Lab” at the University of Leipzig, where the first prototypes of today’s blackbee software were developed.

For today’s article, we have asked our three female founders what prejudices they had to struggle with in the past and what tips they have for women who want to build their own company in the field of technology.

Hanna: As a woman you often have to justify why you do a technical job and then you have to work twice as hard to be respected by (male) colleagues. My tip for young women who are looking towards a technical profession: Don’t be intimidated! Be brave and remain curious! At the beginning of my studies I thought, “Boy, they can already do everything here”! But it often turned out that this was only hot air. In my experience, women in IT are rather shy and only speak up when they are 100% sure. But there’s no reason for that. Knowledge and programming are not always important in IT, since curiosity also is! Exchange ideas with others (women) who are already working in the industry.

Sabine: Of course we stand out as a founding team because we are three women. Sometimes you think, I am not only a woman, but also a Mecklenburger, East German and so on. In my opinion, however, we have always used this topic to our advantage, simply because people would remember us better. Nevertheless, you still have to be convincing – whether a man or a woman. And if you experience rejection, then it is important to see this as an opportunity and to consider how to convince your counterpart. Sometimes you just have to chew your way through!Confront your own weaknesses.Just because in some areas one has doubts, this does not mean that one should immediately give up the ghost. This is particularly important when setting up a company.

Carina: I’ve always wanted to set up a company. I have never asked myself whether a woman or a man should be at the top. Ultimately, what counts is a strong team and a strong product – and we have both.As Sabine already says, you have to convince with your performance – we have never played on our femininity here. My tip to women starting up would be to bring along self-confidence, have a clear vision and step courageously into the future. You should also be so convinced of your own idea and vision that you can convince others of it. We simply need more women power in the German startup landscape, especially in the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology. And I can definitely confirm today that it is also worthwhile for women to set up a company in the IT sector.


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