The main challenge for women trying to succeed in male-dominated environments is to believe in themselves, according to a senior figure in the technology industry.
Maja Nedic is head of engineering at Rentalcars.com, which claims to be the biggest car rental site in the world and recently rebranded as BookingGo.
Speaking to BusinessCloud ahead of International Women’s Day Nedic, who was born in Serbia before moving to the UK in 2000, said: “Once you recognise that belief you can trust in it and then the rest is not that hard, whether you’re female or male.
“I’m quite competitive and I started to believe in my abilities from an early age and that’s how I started to drive myself – it still is.
“If I look through my career I’ve always been trying to do better and I’m very goal-driven.”
This is where women usually struggle, believes Nedic. She says having more men in tech can often create a more vocal, dominating environment that puts women off.
“As long as you believe in what you’re saying and stand by it that’s how to build a presence in that environment – that’s how I’m doing it,” she said.
“I always try to reflect a lot and analyse myself and my actions and try to do better. Even when I do something well I always think ‘was that the best from me? what can I learn? How do I do better?’
“Then even if I did make mistakes, as long as I learn, that’s the most important thing.
“Recognise you’re human and can make mistakes but know how to pick yourself up and move forward.”
Nedic says things are changing for the better when it comes to employing more women and creating an inclusive environment but there is more to be done.
“Companies should recognise the problem and the industry should do something about it,” she said.
“One of the things we are looking at at BookingGo, and others should too, is standardising hiring practices and ensuring they’re not biased, as job specifications are usually more attractive to males.
“Companies should also look at good maternity benefits, return to work programmes and the work-life balance for women so they don’t feel the need to choose between family or a successful career.
“That’s another reason why women stay behind – they have the pressures of starting and raising families as well as a career. They’re usually told it’s one or the other rather than ‘yes, you can do both’, and they need that support from businesses.”
Nedic also believes that instilling a passion for tech in girls at an early age and making them aware of opportunities is key.
“By the time girls have to choose subjects it’s almost too late because they’re out of step with boys who are already very into tech,” she said.
“My son is 11 and we’ve already gotten him into programming and did the same with my oldest when he was about nine.
“I don’t have girls but I would’ve done the same with them and I don’t think that’s necessarily the case from families or in education.
“Girls end up being behind so across the board in the UK and wider we need to be encouraging them into these fields because they aren’t being instructed in STEM.”