Diversity and tech are shaping our future
We’ve set ourselves an ambitious climate goal of net-zero by 2050. What’s going to help us get there? Diversity, inclusion and technology. Here’s how.
There’s no way around it, men are still overrepresented in the tech industry. Like in many IT organizations, most of our developers are men, but in Equinor we also have many skilled developers, engineers and tech professionals - who just happen to be women. Often, they can be seen as managers, team leads or project managers - but working in IT is so much more than that.
Women make up less than 30% of tech professionals across the world, which is important to address - as tech is increasingly shaping the way we work and interact. Diversity is a big word and naturally contains more than just genders; it’s cultural background, education, religion, nationality and more.
“In Equinor, we believe diversity drives creativity, innovation and better business results. If we’re going to make our low-carbon future a reality, technology will be an important piece of the puzzle - and that makes diversity in tech instrumental for success.”
Åshild Hanne Larsen, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President IT
“I am passionate about making a difference here and promoting role models who can inspire the next generation of talents to choose technology,” Åshild says.
That’s why we headed out to find some of them and answer some questions; Who are the people building new software, driving change and utilising new technology to improve people’s lives? Or working with visualization of data and constructing pipelines for data - enabling that data-driven future?
What made them choose tech and more importantly, what makes them stay? Let’s find out!
The Oda Network
- The Oda Network is a leading non-profit network and meeting place for women in tech in the Nordics
- Hosts inspirational days, networking meetings, mentor programs and more
- More than 10,000 members and 50 strategic partners
- Equinor is proud to be a platinum partner
Wanting to be a creator
The first stop on our virtual tour is Trondheim, where we find Marita Midthaug. She began studying IT in the late 90’s, and saw it as an emerging industry with high chances of work. But that wasn’t the only reason.
“I’ve always wanted to be a creator, and I was surrounded by “handy” people when I grew up. This feeling and wanting to create something is what made me want to go into IT,” Marita says.
She’s currently working on a solution to make it easier to order which data that will be gathered when drilling new wells.
“It’s very rewarding to be part of creating something in the digital world. And it’s a lot of fun when we get the data to flow where it’s supposed to and do what we want it to do."
Why diversity matters - and wins
Helping to shape the Internet of Things
Next stop - Stavanger! Here, Yu He is working with the Omnia Data Core Team. The team is responsible for managing the Omnia Data Platform, which has become the tool to democratise data in Equinor.
She’s been working in tech since joining Equinor in 2018, her first job after graduating with a Master’s in Embedded Computing Systems.
“In China, we’re very competitive and girls are actively encouraged to choose engineering. But it wasn’t just objective reasons for me, I’ve always preferred the scientific subjects,” Yu says.
Since our Omnia Data Platform is built using Microsoft Azure, Yu’s team is also working closely with Microsoft. She has been involved in testing new Azure services and providing feedback to improve them, a part of work she really enjoys. But her long-term goal (and dream!) is being part of building the Internet of Things.
“Data engineering and data science is a part of the process, and we’re in that process right now, but we’re not connecting everything together just yet. We’ve started to build the different pieces and I hope I get to see it completed in the future,” Yu says.
While diversity matters in a team, Yu doesn’t believe that it’s the most important ingredient in work itself. However, diversity definitely brings more perspectives into the team and helps the team organize in a better way.
“For me, I think the interest is what counts. You have to push yourself to learn new things every day. Being a developer means choosing a career where you have to stay on top of and follow trends all the time, or you’ll get outdated."
Stay in the Loop
Variety is the spice of tech
“For me, the tech world came very naturally. I grew up in a pretty nerdy family and there was always a computer around. And after I was done with Prince of Persia and Tetris, I was curious about what else this box could do,” Urszula Wolak laughs.
Now, Urszula works in Oslo as a data engineer and tech lead for her team. What’s a tech lead you ask? Basically, it’s about coordinating developers and their work, but most of the time she is doing the work herself.
“Thankfully, organizing is more of a side gig,” she laughs.
“The variation is what makes it fun, especially in data engineering. I have to cover a lot of bases, switch between tools, different tech, and in many cases just learn on the go. It’s like a puzzle you get to solve every day."
The rest of the Pre-salt Analytics project team is based in Brazil. They’re all working on creating a tool that allows users to visualize different data sources in one screen.
“It’s a great feeling to help in making people's lives easier in ways that aren’t obvious to them. I find it incredibly motivating to give people tools that help them, simply by putting together data in one solution,” she explains.
Never felt out of place
What does it take to solve an IT puzzle? Passionate and curious people working together, preferably people who think differently from each other. Having a very homogenous group will affect team dynamics, which can be very noticeable when someone “different” enters.
“While tech is still a male-dominated field I’ve never felt I was at a disadvantage. I think we’re mostly judged on our merits in our industry,” Urszula explains.
She tells us that the only place where she’s thought the gender imbalance is visible are conferences and other industry events.
“But apart from that, I’ve never felt like anyone has questioned my presence. Not that there’s always been women around, but I never felt out of place,” she says.
Naturally, we had to ask Ursula: what makes a good developer or data engineer?
“A proper IT background is a must. But as long as you’re curious, willing to learn and not set in your ways I think you can have the freedom to explore different roles. Being stubborn is a good thing if it means you don’t give up just because something isn’t easy, but you have to be open to listening to others and taking their advice."
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Bente Kleiven is a data engineer in Bergen, working with moving all of our data to the cloud. She shares the view on diversity being an important aspect.
“I think you need all kinds of personalities on a team; from introverts to extroverts and the ones who can spearhead new tech to the more down-to-earth types. It’s when you have all these different kinds that it’s fun to work together."
“Differences in age and nationality can be just as important as differences in genders,” she adds.
Bente explains that during her 20+ years in IT, she hasn’t experienced discrimination herself.
“The only thing that comes to mind - that can be a type of “gender difference experience” is whenever we’re discussing organizing something. It might be me or other women who are asked first to help out, I don’t know why, but it might be that people expect us to be more nurturing,” Bente says.
When they were discussing bringing in a new team member in the team, one of Bente’s male colleagues asked if they should bring in a woman instead of another man - as she was the only woman in the team.
“While I hadn’t thought about it at all myself, when he said it I thought that it might be a good idea. It shouldn’t be a deciding criterion in my opinion, but it’s about building a diverse team,” Bente says.
“I also don’t feel like you have to make diversity your only fighting cause just because you’re a woman working in tech. That’s something everyone should contribute to,” she adds.
- A recruitment target of 50-50 balance in gender and nationality for both new graduates and experienced hires
- Global paid parental leave for all Equinor group employees
- Partner with the Ada Project at NTNU, supporting their efforts to attract girls to ICT studies
- Participate in events like “Girls Day in Tech” at universities
Always changing and learning
One of those who stumbled upon development and the IT world by accident, is Bergen-based Rebecca Sue Brekke. Originally from the United States, she didn’t see herself entering the world of tech when deciding on colleges.
“I thought computer science, tech and IT was a “super-intelligent people only” type of thing. No one ever told me women couldn’t do it, but I just didn’t consider it an option."
Rebecca Sue Brekke
One day, she attended a BASIC programming class. That’s where she saw the famous words “Hello, World!” appear on her screen.
“It was just really exciting to see! I had thought programming was an elusive, magical thing, but when I tried it myself I realized how much you could actually do,” Rebecca explains.
“I’ve always wanted to create something on my own, and after that I just wanted to learn as much as possible and never went back. The tech world is always changing so it’s never boring and even though I’ve pretty much been in the same department for 15 years I feel like I’ve changed jobs constantly."
Rebecca Sue Brekke