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Panel Event on Fueling Entrepreneurial Spirit of Women in the IT Industry

An all-women panel discussion in celebration of International Women’s Day. 

A British survey from 2011 asked a number of managers to state how confident they were in their professional work. Around half of women said that they constantly doubted the quality of their own work performance, while less than a third of the surveyed men had those same doubts. According to another social research, men are four times more likely to ask for a raise than women, and they would usually ask for 30% more than women would. When it comes to evaluating personal skills and performance, a Cornel University study showed that men often overestimate themselves, while women typically underestimate what they are capable of.

The gender confidence gap was just one of the important topics that the panelists touched upon during HTEC’s all-women panel discussion on fueling the entrepreneurial spirit of women in tech. They also discussed the financing gap between the companies whose founders are men as opposed to those founded by women. According to a study, only 11% of financing for early development is invested in companies founded by women, while in the later stages of development, the numbers drop to only 5 percent.

What makes this data increasingly alarming is an important McKinsey study from 2014. The research showed that there is a definite positive link between gender equality in company management and the company’s proven financial success. According to all financial performance indicators, companies with more women in executive boards and in leadership positions are, in fact, more likely to become extremely successful.

As previously announced, the panelists were female leaders from the tech industry, Maja Andjelkovic, Team Lead for Digital Entrepreneurship at The World Bank, Marija Desivojevic Cvetkovic, Senior Vice President at Delta Holding,  Sanja Bogdanovic Dinic, Technology & Delivery Lead at HTEC Group, and Stefanija Lukic, Co-founder and CEO at Just Smart Co and CEO at Shtreber.

During the event,  held virtually on March 8 at 4 PM CET, the panelists looked back at their career paths, their role models, and mentors who supported their growth over the years. They also shared advice on how to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit, intended to benefit both the women climbing up their career ladder in different organizations and corporations and also those considering founding their own companies.

The 90% female audience actively participated in the panel. They were eager to find out how our panelists managed to build their confidence when applying to internships, new jobs, or higher positions. They also wanted to know how to maintain this confidence in everyday business communication when openly sharing opinions and ideas. The unanimous advice was to always set small and achievable goals and to use every step in a career as an opportunity for growth and learning. The panelists agreed that education played a crucial role in building their confidence and remains a pillar for their professional advancement and success. 

The panelists suggested several ways that companies could support the professional development of women in tech, such as offering regular mentorship and internship programs, introducing benefits for new moms, and encouraging male employees to use parts of the parental leave during the child’s first year.

The panelists also discussed the importance of introducing other types of support on the community level and announced the business accelerator program started by the World Bank and the Innovation Fund. This program aims to support a large number of companies founded by women in Serbia. Aside from financial support, they will have an opportunity to receive extensive mentorships and business consulting by business leaders from around the world.

HTEC Group, as one of the leaders in the IT industry in Serbia, and the organizer of the event, announced further support to similar initiatives which aim to empower girls and women in tech. Out of around 700 employees in HTEC, over 200 are female, which is above the average global 14% estimated to be working in tech. 

The bigger transparency of female role models in IT is one of the prerequisites for girls to choose studies and professions in this domain. HTEC’s panel attracted many female students and aspiring young entrepreneurs who used this live discussion to get answers to practical questions and receive useful advice regarding their future careers and professional growth.