Diana Voutyrakou is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate from the National Technical University of Athens. In this interview conducted by Women4IT partner CreThiDev, she discusses her experience as a woman working in the tech sector, and how gender issues in this field should be addressed.
W4IT: Could you tell me more about who you are and what you are doing?
Diana Voutyrakou: I am an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate from the National Technical University of Athens focusing on the fields of electronics, computational systems, telecommunications, and biomedical engineering. In addition, I carry several awards from robotics competitions (national, European, and international) as well as an Olympic Distinction. At the moment, I am an Educational Robotics instructor of school teams, and founder and general manager of Unique Minds (UM), a non-profit organization. I am also the G(irls)20 European Ambassador. All the above led me to earn the Greek International Women Award, a distinction as “Young Greek Woman of the Year”, the Education Leaders Award and to win the worldwide campaign “Women doing Businesses for Good”.
W4IT: What is it like to be a woman working in the tech sector?
DV: Unfortunately, not only robotics but engineering in general, is considered a man’s profession. Thus, I will rephrase the question to “what is like to always be the minority in your work environment?”. Many times, you feel that your opinion or your ideas will not be heard and you will experience unconscious bias from most of your colleagues and also from your customers/beneficiaries. In particular, many times I was treated like I was the secretary and not a robotics instructor, or I have attended many meetings where everyone was expecting me to take notes and bring the photocopies instead of all the other people in the room. I thought that this was a problem that we are experiencing only in Greece, but after my participation in the Girls20 Global Summit in 2018 and in Global Women’s Forum 2020 I realised that only a vast minority of countries have achieved diversity in terms of gender in the tech industry.
W4IT: What do you think we should be doing more to encourage more girls to consider a career in tech?
DV: To begin with, I firmly believe that we need more female role models in the tech industry. These role models would be able to inspire and motivate young girls, and they could also guide and advise them on their first steps into this male-dominated industry. Once, I read that “we cannot be what we cannot see”, and this is exactly what we are experiencing. For years, there were many stereotypes and norms which disheartened girls from following tech studies and careers and caused the lack of leading female role models in the industry. For a girl to be confident enough to consider a career in tech we need to:
- Find and highlight the great work that women are doing in the industry
- Create a network with mentors and mentees, where women who have succeeded in this industry can provide help to others