On a crisp Friday morning, Stockholm’s Waterfront was alive with the sound of excited voices. 2,500 attendees stood in a queue that wrapped around the block and doubled back on itself.
Before we get carried away with the excitement, it’s important to give the conference some context. Far from a fluffy “girl power” event, the annual conference is held to encourage women to get into tech roles and stay there, because the industry is in dire need.
Let’s look at some numbers. A report by the Swedish IT and Telecom Industries says that due to our society’s increasing reliance on IT competencies, they predict a need for an extra 70,000 people in the IT space by 2024. According to the American Enterprise Institute, only 24 per cent of computing jobs are held by women. More than 20 per cent of women over the age of 35 are still in junior positions, according to HackerRank.
While this sadly isn’t news to Volvo Cars, we are on the case.
“Knowing the tech talent deficit and the male dominance in the tech sector, it’s obvious that we need more women in this field,” says Linda Wall, who works in talent acquisition and was one of the organisers for Volvo Cars at the Sweden-based, internationally-focused Women In Tech (WIT) event, where we are a key partner.
“Women in Tech allows us to both position ourselves among other tech companies, and directly engage with a talent pool that is highly important to us.”
And engage we did. Our Volvo Cars booth was flooded with visitors, who chatted to our enthusiastic ambassadors, checked out the tech behind our infotainment systems, and had a look at our cars rendered in Mixed Reality with Varjo’s XR3 headset. Women of all ages and stages in their career were delighted to learn that Volvo Cars is pushing the envelope in both hardware and software spaces, and many were set to apply to work in our brand-new IT-focused Stockholm office which is opening later this year.
Midway through the day, our representatives took to the stage for a panel discussion about how we are leveling up in the tech space, leadership and in not only encouraging women to start careers in technology, but removing barriers to them moving up in their careers.
Malin Ekholm, head of our safety centre; Sanela Ibrovic, head of connected experience; and Anne-Mette Nygaard Lindblad, who heads up global consumer offers, shared how they combine cutting-edge tech with a people-first approach to change the way we own, drive and enjoy cars.
“It really was more of a conversation on stage,” said Malin. “And this conversational style of dialogue really conveys the essence of working at Volvo Cars. It’s about collaboration, bouncing ideas off each other and building on each other’s ideas.”
The talk really resonated with the attendees, who got stuck in with questions during the discussion, and headed to our stand after the talk to keep the conversation going.
“The feedback and questions I got from people at WIT after the stage was sending lots of energy and curiosity about the brand and what we do,” continued Malin. “This was my personal hope and goal of participating. I think it’s very important for us to stay in tune, and WIT is a very strong platform for us to do so.”
Close to 60 Volvo Cars employees attended the event, and just as many were involved in making sure our presence was a success.