A women dressed as superman

Superwoman in a Danish tech start-up? Let’s shed some light

An interview with three superwomen of Archii

This is not an article about how we want flowers and cake on the International Women’s Day.  Even though we wouldn’t say no to cake and flowers (who would?!). Today, we want to attract attention to how this day’s purpose is to make a positive difference for women! We are 3 international powerful women who want to make a positive statement. Women who want to encourage more women to jump into the tech industry. This is a nice reminder that we have the strength and will to succeed – we just need to put ourselves out there.

The tech industry has a gender gap – and it’s not a small one. Just 28 percent of IT workers in Denmark are women. The point of this article, besides showing the strong women workforce at Archii, is to emphasize that we think there is a need for more women in tech, in positions such as Software Engineer and Data Analysts – just to name a few.

My name is Maria Chirac (the one in the middle) and I am doing Marketing and PR. I wanted to give you, women (and the guys as well), a “behind the scenes” glimpse of how it is to be working in a tech startup as a woman. To do so, I sat down with two awesome colleagues of mine: Asma Boussabat (to the right) – our dedicated Software Engineer, and Nina Maria Figueiredo (to the left) – the HR and Growth goddess. Before diving into all the juicy experiences, I think it makes sense to let the ladies introduce themselves.

Let’s get started, shall we?


From the left Nina, Maria and Asma

What makes you who you are?

Nina: My “brazilianness” and “nordicnness” play a huge part in who I am today. After 5 years of living in Scandinavia, I already carry a lot from both cultures. Nevertheless, I have been raised by the sea, so whenever I get the chance I like to put my feet in the sand and enjoy the sun. My interest in working with people was triggered by my dad. Since I was a child I saw him working both with people and music. Then I grew up and left home to see the world and find out more about myself.

Asma: I have to give credit to the fact that I am coming from the charm of the Orient, Tunisia. I feel like this has played a big role in the way I am today. I am proud of my home country and culture, but always ready to discover a new one. Currently, the culture of Scandinavia amazes me. Here, I feel like I can be myself, and this gives me the freedom of being who I want to be. I am a lover of dogs and traveling because I believe both give me something that human interaction doesn’t.

 

Why an HR and Growth Manager/ Software Engineer?

Nina: Because I’m able to work both with people and “marketing”. For me, it’s super exciting that I can be creative in my work, and go back and forth between HR and growth. My people skills are an advantage when working with marketing as well.

Asma: I believe it was always a passion of mine. I have been curious about computers and technology since I was a kid. At the age of 16, I built my first website. It wasn’t great but gave me enough reasons to be proud of myself, considering I was self-taught back then.

Later on, by the time I had to apply for college, I choose to take my hobby to the next level. I wanted to transform it into a career, follow my passion, and here I am today.

 

Describe the life of a woman in Tech, and at Archii.

Nina: Being a woman in tech is interesting, exciting and challenging. Challenging in the sense that, if you have much more male colleagues at the workplace, is very imbalanced. Women can feel that they “do not fit in”. That’s why is super important to promote equality in companies cultures, and women will feel confident and supported to follow their dreams. We are still not that many in the industry, so we need to have more women onboard to contribute to the making and maintaining of the products and services. What I think we should promote at the workplace is the chance of women developing themselves as thinkers, creators and builders. In my case, I’m able to bring people’s understanding and creativity to the table, while constantly trying to find new ways of doing things and improving the existing ones. Be able to change and constantly improve yourself are important things for working in the tech industry because it definitely changes fast.

About how is to work at Archii, I can’t remember a day where it was boring or I didn’t have at least a moment of laughter. In one of my first weeks at work, Søren (Co-Founder) put some Bossa Nova (Brazilian music) at the office, and said I could “sing along”. This made me feel a bit like “home”.

Asma: Working in tech makes me responsible and careful on how and when I use my creativity. I am in charge of creating parts of a huge product. Everything I do has an effect on the other people’s work as well. If this is not teaching me how to be responsible and deadline oriented, I don’t know what else is.

I remember a fun moment at Archii. We had to take a team picture, and it happened to be unannounced and on the rooftop. Without any stairs or elevator, we had to pull ourselves up through a window. That was fun. I was unprepared, cold because of the wind, and struggling to get up on the rooftop. They helped me up, but they couldn’t change the fact that I was wearing random clothes and my face in the picture looked funny.

Even though I was surprised by the situation, the patience and kindness of my colleagues helped me get through it easily.

Archii is a workplace where people help each other grow both professionally and personally. As cliche as it may sound, we are a family and we like it!

By the way, if you want to try the product we are building, simply by clicking here and signing for our Beta version.

 

Thinking about the Danish working culture from your experience, what makes your heart sing?

Nina: Flat organisational structures and the possibility to challenge each other. I get excited every time I’m able to implement my ideas, I’m heard and understood by my peers. And I’m pretty sure that this is something both related to how people generally work in Denmark and, of course, related to the place I work at the moment. I can see some differences in relation to Brazil, for example. Generally, in Denmark it is more accepted to fail: it’s much more important that you take the risk and do what you need to do than to be hesitant and lose the chance.

Asma: I never stop appreciating the flexibility and informal vibe of a workspace in Denmark. The absence of a dress code is another plus because I am always keen on wearing comfortable clothes. All of these make me feel good and I do not have to stress of what people think of me, because nobody judges.

To give a better representation of this freedom and informal work environment, I must tell you that in my first time at the office, I called one of the Co-Founders “sir”. He stopped whatever he was saying and laughed, saying that I should call him by his name, no other titles required. That was new and nicely surprising.

How does it feel to be the only female coder?

Asma: In most of the places I have worked before I was always treated as inferior compared to my male colleagues. I was not given the trust of completing a task on my own or succeeding in any way. This has only made me more willing to improve and prove myself.

Archii is the place where we are all equals, even when I used to be the only woman on the team. There is no gender differentiation, I am trusted, heard and appreciated.

Plus, we take our cigarette break together everyday.

How do you take your idea forward in a male work environment?

Nina: The way I do it is by having clear ideas and good arguments, looking on other people’s eyes and speak out. Having an assertive tone of voice is helpful as well. Another useful thing would be to practice some “power poses” too.

Maria: Do you have advice for other women who want to pursue a career in Tech?

Asma: I know it is difficult to stand out in this industry, but you have to:

  • Be confident and believe in your skills
  • Persevere, never stop developing yourself
  • Be curious, ask a lot of questions and show what you got
  • Overcome your fears and keep yourself challenged

It might not sound like much, but it got me this far. It is a matter of personal strength to pursue a career that is most often intended for the male population.

Maria: From a HR perspective, could you give advice for female applicants?

Nina: Of course!

  • From the applications I have seen, women are generally really good in matching their strengths to the job requirements. Keep doing that!
  • Believe in yourself first. No one will do that for you. Apply for positions even though you don’t fulfill a 100% of the job requirements, but you would love to do that work! Trying doesn’t hurt!
  • Have a professional portrait! We need to communicate our professional image. Sometimes in some career fairs, you can get it done for free.
  • Think big and value yourself.

We are strong individuals, but together, we are power. And the more we get, the more powerful we are. Stay united, be bold and never stop learning. Happy international women’s day from Archii!

About the interviewer: I am a student in Bachelor’s Digital Concept Development. I am helping out Archii on the Marketing and PR side. I am enthusiastic about photography and traveling. In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading and playing video games.