If there is one thing that differentiates professional women from men, it’s their attitude to avoid risks. With these words, Former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes kicked off of the ambitious Female Tech Heroes network, which was launched today, as part of Dutch Technology Week, at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. More than 600 tech women were present for a day of presentations and debates on the theme of women in tech. Kroes: “Women are still underrepresented in tech and that needs to change. That’s why I’m supporting this great initiative.”
Female Tech Heroes is a new initiative in the Brainport region to make women enthusiastic about technology. High Tech Campus Eindhoven took the initiative, which immediately turned into a success. Initiator Ingelou Stol: “Large companies in the region such as ASML, Philips, NXP and Thermo Fisher Scientific, are all looking for female talent. Ultimately we strive for diversity. That’s the key to success. Research shows that teams with different backgrounds, genders and experiences lead to the best innovations. With the support of Neelie Kroes, we want to want to make this initiative more international. We’ll start in the Brainport region, but next year it is time for the next step: Europe.”
“Women are too perfectionist. Men take opportunities, women prefer to wait until they are absolutely 100% sure they can succeed. We need more boldness, we need to take risks!”
Kroes said she made a lot of mistakes during her (ongoing) career. “And that’s exactly what has helped me perform. My advice to you all, as a younger generation, would be to stop being risk-avoiding. Skip that word from your dictionary! Unfortunately, it’s part of our culture. We are too perfectionist. Men take opportunities, women prefer to wait until they are absolutely 100% sure they can succeed. We need more boldness, not everything needs to be an immediate success. Look at the attitude in Silicon Valley, where you just need to show your failures; they need you to be in a risky mood.”
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During the years, Kroes has learned that a team needs at least one-third of women to be able to make a change. “If you’re the only woman in the boardroom, forget about making a change. And just as important: never give up. Don’t be oversensitive about issues that really don’t matter. It helps to grow an elephant skin. Really, I couldn’t care less about what people would think about me. I prefer to be clear and raise my voice instead of being hesitant. Take your moment, take the opportunity when it occurs.”
Although role models and quota for women in important positions have never attracted Kroes during her career, at this point in time she has started to think differently about that. “There is no other way. With the speed this is taking place right now, it would take another 200 years to really get things changed. We don’t have eternal life, so let’s accept some quota there.”
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