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"I would like to see more women in IT feeling comfortable enough to pursue whatever path they aim for."

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Greet Burkels

Test Manager

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What kind of work did you dream to do at high school? Were you thinking back then, that you would work in IT?

No not really actually. I wanted to be a photographer… (which is still my number one hobby). At the time, those paths towards professional photography were quite expensive and nearly impossible. Next thing I wanted was „ to make a difference, to have impact“. I did not foresee a particular branch or something.

How did you get into the world of technologies? Did you study IT or did life bring you there?

Life brought me there. At home we always had the latest stuff when it came to audio and also cinematography related items. Also the Commodore 64 quickly found it’s way into the ‚play room‘ and I thought it was magical that you could „make it do stuff“. I learned programming in high school and I soon learned that eventhough I loved to see things happen after I submitted some piece of code, I was better at finding mistakes other made in their piece of code.

Did your family and friends support your decision to join the tech world?

Yes, my brother is in IT and my father used to be an early adopter so they thought it only made sense…

Please tell us a little more about your work. (something cool for girls and young women considering working in IT). Why do you love it?

My job is to make sure that if something new or changed is going to be used, that it works. I help people test new stuff to find out if it works. But also to find out if nothing bad happens. For example, I once was responsible for testing a brand new system that had to support an airline. This system had to make sure that enough fuel was loaded into airplanes, that the luggage was loaded correctly, to avoid out of balance. Any mistake could lead to an airline crash! At one point my team consisted of about 70 people all busy testing this new system as thorough as we could.

And what to think of testing a new subway line… To make sure the trains stop at the right point, depart at the correct time, that fire detection systems work properly, alarms go off when they have to, camera’s providing the right images, and so on.

It is very gratifying when you can contribute to something in order to make it safer, or bring more value to lots of people.

I also love the fact that my work brings me to many different companies and organizations. Everytime you get a new experience, you get to get a glance in someone else’s ‚kitchen‘. Never a dull moment.

What does your company do?

We provide test management for large projects but we also deliver test consultancy/advice. Providing training and coaching in agile transitions is also something we do.

What do you like about working in IT?

IT is everywhere, and seemingly in everything. IT is a very broad term, as in, there is so much diversity in IT itself. You have systems that support administrative processes, but also business critical systems as the before mentioned airline related system. But what to think of all the new technologies like AI. Or all the developments around data. So it is the diversity and the continuous innovation. But also the fact that IT is often at the core of an organization makes IT very interesting.

What are the advantages from your point of view?

You never stop learning something new, it often should result in making someone’s life easier and/or contribute to a bigger cause.

What is the ratio of men vs women at your team? Would you change it?

In the company I work for it is 50/50. At the client’s site the test team has a female majority. And it works fine.

Have you ever experienced any prejudice towards you?

Not conciously. However when I look back, I definitely think that there were moments/situations in which I was treated differently than if  I had been a man. More on a management level than specialty related.

Would you want more women in IT? Why?

I believe in a healthy mix. Not because it is politically correct to say so but because I believe in complementary skills, comptences and characters. Right now teams are perhaps most of the time ‚out of balance‘ meaning, predominantly male or female.

On topic: I would like to see more women in IT feeling comfortable enough to pursue whatever path they aim for (as I do wish that for my male collegues ofcourse). I would like to see that women in IT that are today considered ‚less experienced‘ to be labeled as their male counterparts: promising and get the same opportunities and exposure as the next person.

 

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