Jessica Erickson makes the computer world more feminine
Thirty years old, American, is the initiator of Geekettes, a network that wants to make women all over the world brave technology. In the Year of Science 2014, she is one of Germany's digital minds. Meanwhile, she has a partner: seven months after founding she met the Berlin-based Denise Philipp? and the two decided immediately that they want to lead the Geekettes together into the future.
She could hardly believe that such a young guy could say something so stupid: "Women can not tech", women can not use the Internet. At that moment, Jessica Erickson, then Head of Communications at a Berlin startup, was finally fed up with the stale arrogance that so many male nerds are carrying. "I knew a lot of women who felt the same way and who felt alone in the internet scene, and I wanted to bring them together." So Erickson invited eight women and started the Geekettes, a network for women who want to make a difference in the technology industry. That was 2012.
The Geekettes? the word is derived from geek and means "female computer geek"? assist women in founding start-ups, organize technical workshops and organize hackathons. In these 24-hour programming marathons women can present their ideas. Often there are spontaneous teams who use them to make programs or products suitable for everyday use: one app that displays the menstrual cycle, another that helps find a day-care center. The Geekettes also supported start-ups like Changers, who offer a millimeter-thin, portable solar cell that can generate electricity for small appliances while walking.
Erickson had imagined the effect of the "Geekettes" in a similar way: "Women are becoming more and more powerful as consumers - that's why they are so important as developers." Even large companies have realized how much potential there is in female talent. They get advice from the "Geekettes" looking for these gifted women, companies like Sony and Deutsche Telekom and even the United Nations sponsor the women's network. "My main job is getting people together," says Erickson.
How that works, she learned early. The 30-year-old came first by way of a detour into the high-tech world. She was born in Minnesota, the parents are from Norway and Korea, she calls herself "Korwegian". In the home of her parents she got to know and love different ways of thinking, she studied International Relations in the USA and Media Communications in London: "I've always moved in completely different cultures, that's what shaped me," she says. She first worked in New York, but the high prices were annoying, and the city was too established for her.
So she moved to Berlin in 2011. Life was affordable, there were many creative scenes, and only three percent of startups had been founded by women. Exactly the right plaster for Jessica Erickson, as you should quickly see: Two and a half years after its foundation, 2500 women belong to the "Geekettes". There are groups in Hamburg, London, Lisbon and New York. But Jessica Erickson is not enough. She wants to conquer the whole world for women and wishes that in technical professions as many women as men work. There will be an event on the subject at a UN assembly next month. The input comes from Jessica Erickson and her fellow combatants.