EPISODE 2: Diversity & Inclusion Q&A with Antonina Danylenko (Part 2)
EPISODE 2 (PART 2): This week, we had the pleasure of digging deeper into diversity with Antonina and exploring some exciting upcoming conferences that are promoting Women in Tech.
Welcome back Antonina, we look forward to digging deeper into diversity with you. Firstly, how does the current gender balance look within your company and team?
“I would say the company as a whole is very diverse, we have around a 40/60 female-male split. In our team, we are 3 girls and 4 guys, it works really well, we are balanced not only in terms of diversity but also in terms of character. We are 7 people from 7 different countries which also makes things quite interesting. Our team was previously a 50/50 split, so diversity is always valued here. ”
Wow, that’s an impressive split, several companies I’m speaking with are still struggling to achieve this level of balance. How do you think Viaplay has achieved this?
“When searching for new employees, we are very committed to equality and diversity and open to all qualified individuals regardless of their background. In my team, we tend to use our own networks when hiring. For example, I have a strong network within the Women in Data Science space, my colleagues also have strong networks, so we work together to achieve a balance on the candidate level, through reaching out to the community. We want to reach out to as many people as possible, to have visibility of our advertisements, giving equal opportunity.
Also at work, all of the women in our team have children so everyone knows that it is ok to leave work early or work from home because of family commitments. There is no pressure and it’s a completely understanding environment, which really helps maintain the balance. “
That’s great! Are there any other initiatives in the business that help promote and nurture women in the workplace?
“We have a dedicated People & Culture Officer who focuses on driving diversity & inclusion. They do a great job of ensuring we always have a lot of diversity growth inside the company.
There are a lot of female leaders in the company which is inspiring and promising.
We also have an internal women’s network within the company where you can share advice and experiences, inspire and openly discuss anything that may be troubling you, it’s a very supportive and welcoming environment.”
I don’t think it’s any secret that many women in the tech industry have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that?
“I certainly experienced this at university, but at the time, I was very young. When I completed my PhD I was 22, in Ukraine, this is quite common, but in Sweden, it is almost like you are still a child. I was surprised as to why I was treated differently and not taken seriously. After reflecting, I now understand the reasons were not only because I was a woman, but because I was also very young.
At Ikea, I had a female boss who was always very supportive, also here at Viaplay all of my bosses are very open and encouraging. I have never felt any pressure in these environments or that my gender affected how I was perceived.”
It’s fantastic that you have always been surrounded by influential women in tech. Outside of your own experiences, Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
“When I started my studies I certainly noticed a lack of women. In Ukraine, there was always a thought that ‘men are smarter than women’, ‘only men’s brain can work in tech’, ‘women are more focused on economics or language’ so I feel this could have been a contribution towards the cause of it.
Now, it’s very different and getting so much better. We have more women in technology and more women having the confidence, power, and belief in their abilities, it’s very encouraging seeing this growth. There really is no difference between a male/female’s brain.
Of course, it is still a problem, but we are making progress, we for sure need to be supporting more women and even children at school to do more programming/coding oriented tasks.”
We are definitely moving in the right direction. Collectively what more can we do to appeal/attract more women in tech?
“We can continue to support the initiatives encourage girls to code. We can teach at school that you can do whatever you want in your life, if you have the drive to work on technical subjects then you can pursue that, you can pursue anything you want in life and that it’s a world full of opportunity.
We should look to give more speeches at schools as female leaders/females in tech — They should encourage younger girls to think ‘I can do that when I grow up.’ It’s about creating inspirational role models.
We should be removing the perceptions in society that in some cases are still there like ‘women are not smart,’ ‘women drive worse than men.’ Work towards removing this crap out and it will make the world of opportunities closer.“
Amen to that! It’s all about creating inspirational role-models and working together. What would be your advice to women trying to get into technology?
“Nothing can stop you! If you have a passion, then go for it. Sometimes women can be a little undermining of their own abilities, one thing is to try to silence the voice inside of your head that sometimes says “maybe I’m not good enough.”
If someone offers you a promotion that you think will be great for your career but you feel that you are still not quite there in terms of experience, instead of saying “maybe not this time” say “Yes! This time I will do it” and after this, decide exactly what it is you will do, even if you don’t understand anything.
I’m always trying to listen to talks on TEDx Talks given by women in power/leadership as this is always very encouraging. One woman gave some great advice that has really helped me, it’s about having the mindset of “I’m not that bad, it’s going to be great, I CAN do it.”
That’s some great advice. Can you share any initiatives/organisations/communities you are aware of promoting women in tech?
“In Stockholm, the Women in Tech conference is always very inspiring, the tickets sell out in just 3 minutes, so I guess it shows how popular it is. This year ladies from my team will present at the WiT Conference, it will be a deep technical session where they will present the way we work, something we are all very excited about.
I’m now one of the co-organisers for the Women in Data Science, AI and ML, Stockholm group. This is a very strong group and has a great community of women, supporting each other. We organise Data Science meetups all year around. We also have a big Women in Data Science Stockholm conference, which happens this year on the 13th of March and will take in 350 participants. It will be a full-day conference with a lot of interesting technical talks and networking.
I would say when embracing these initiatives, it’s more about passion. Gender matters but when we start to work in a technical domain, we should follow what we love doing. It can be any conference/organisation, for me, it’s Data Science, for others the possibilities are endless.”
The tickets for the WiT, Stockholm Conference really are like gold dust! I’ve heard great things about the conference and look forward to hearing how it all goes on 6th March.
The next WiDS Conference will be hosted in Stockholm on March 13th, registration is now open if this is an area that interests you then please be sure you secure your place…you won’t regret it!
So this concludes Episode 2 of our Diversity & Inclusion: Q&A, another powerful discussion with very inspiring content. Thank you again to Antonina and we wish you the best of luck for the WiDS Conference.
Next month, our mission continues — We will create inspirational content, through sharing career journeys, challenges had, lessons learnt. ✨
Who’s story would you like to hear from next? What questions do you have for women in the technology industry? If you would like to get involved in this initiative, we would love to hear from you! Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ellie King - Principal Talent Partner - Data / AI - Nordics