“To foster greater gender diversity in technology, we should strive to create welcoming environments both at home and in educational institutions.”
12/1/2023 Next generation Interview embedded world

“To foster greater gender diversity in technology, we should strive to create welcoming environments both at home and in educational institutions.”

In this interview, Eszter Vezdén, co-founder and CEO of axem, talks about the challenges and joys of a career in the technology industry. “It is important to have an environment that encourages women to pursue their ambitions and also gives valuable feedback continuously”, says Vezdén. At the #women4ew event at embedded world, there is the opportunity to exchange ideas with the participants, to network and to become part of a supportive community.

Eszter Vezdén, co-founder and CEO of axem Eszter Vezdén, co-founder and CEO of axem

Female power in the tech industry


Background in electrical and software engineering


Eszter, you are an engineer who transitioned into a management role. Please share your experiences and ideas with us. What excites you about the embedded industry?

Eszter Vezdén: I have an electrical engineering background with a specialization in embedded systems. I originally chose this field because I like low-level coding and embedded systems are an integral part of modern life. However, I later realized that my management skills were a strong suit, leading me to transition in that direction.

For a few years, I stepped away from the embedded field to seek different perspectives and broaden my understanding of software engineering. Now I’m back in the game again but in a different way, as our company serves the embedded industry from the outside.

 

Female leadership in the embedded system industry


How do you think female leaders can be promoted in the embedded industry?

Eszter Vezdén: The most important is to recognize the unique challenges female leaders may face and implement strategies to address these issues. What I would highlight is the preconception when it comes to female tech leaders. People don’t really believe you could have the technical background so it is always a longer journey to prove yourself. The first thing we can do is to always provide equal opportunities and educate decision-makers about unconscious biases that may affect hiring and promotion decisions.

The second thing I would recommend is building a supportive company culture and a stable feedback mechanism. We have plenty of research by now showing that women often won't apply for a job or ask for a promotion unless they feel they meet 100% of the requirements. It is important to have an environment that encourages women to pursue their ambitions and also gives valuable feedback continuously.

Be part of it! Meet the embedded community from 9 – 11 April 2024 at the
Exhibition Centre in Nuremberg and exchange ideas with international experts!

Mentorship is very important

 

You are the co-founder and CEO of axem. Please tell us more about the challenges you experienced and the triumphs of a career in the tech world.

Eszter Vezdén: I believe one of the initial challenges I faced in my tech career was the experience of being the only woman in the room and adapting to that situation. It's quite interesting when you look around and realize you are somehow alone.

Another challenge I encountered was transitioning from a developer role to a managerial one. I hear about this barrier a lot from my friends and colleagues too. In my experience, once you start in a certain role, some people tend to perceive you that way regardless of the skills and reputation you built over the years. It can be challenging to change their perception. That's why I always encourage everyone to be bold and not hesitate to step out of their comfort zone. Of course, it can be tough to convince hiring managers that you're capable of a new role, especially if you haven't had the opportunity to showcase your skills.

For instance, when I was a developer and applied for a product manager position, there was another candidate with more experience. Later, I learned that the main reason the hiring manager chose me was that I looked super ambitious, and he wanted to give me an opportunity.

It can be a valuable lesson for everyone - beginners need a chance to learn. This mindset has stayed with me over the years. 

Another thing I would highlight is mentorship. I firmly believe in its power, but not necessarily in a formal way. Finding the right mentors during your career can be challenging, but it's equally challenging to have one with whom you don't resonate. I was lucky enough to meet with super-talented senior professionals who have guided me. And even now, 10 years later I can ping them and ask for their opinion.

However, perhaps the biggest challenge I've faced was transitioning from an employee status to the journey of building a company from scratch. This journey is still ongoing and not an easy one.

 

Upbringing and education are key factors

 

How can more women be encouraged to pursue a career in the technology industry?

Eszter Vezdén: In my view, the key to encouraging more women to pursue careers in the technology industry begins with two fundamental factors: upbringing and education. I was fortunate to have parents who never differentiated between professions based on gender, and the schools I attended also provided supportive environments in this regard. However, I acknowledge that this isn't always the case for everyone.

To foster greater gender diversity in technology, we should strive to create welcoming environments both at home and in educational institutions.

The other thing I would highlight as a barrier is the understanding of “tech”. If you were to ask someone on the street about professions like being a chef or an architect, they'd likely offer a clear explanation. However, ask about software development, and you might encounter some uncertainty, even though many people own smartphones, TVs, or computers.

In my perspective, a significant challenge is the limited understanding of the opportunities within the technology industry. If you combine this with the fact that it is a gender-stigmatized profession, you understand why girls, in particular, often lack awareness of the vast potential that awaits them in this field.

To address this gap, we must work to demystify technology and actively promote awareness of the diverse roles and possibilities available. This includes education, community engagement, and the sharing of inspiring stories of women who have excelled in tech-related careers.

Women at the networking event women4ew at embedded world Exhibition&Conference.

#women4ew

 

Do you already know the networking event #women4ew at embedded world?

Eszter Vezdén: Yes, I attended #women4ew 2023 and it was an inspiring experience. It was good to see the birth of something new. We had great hosts and I think all attendees appreciated their dedication to fostering a supportive community for women in the embedded world.

 

#women4ew will take place again at ew24! 

Find out more about the inspiring networking event, registration and programme

Diversity & inclusion in the tech industry

 

You firmly believe that diversity and inclusion are key drivers of innovation and progress in any field, especially in the tech industry. Please explain this in more detail.

Eszter Vezdén: In the tech industry, where complex challenges are the norm, having a diverse team means having a broader range of problem-solving approaches. When you have individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints working together, you will have a rich variety of perspectives. This diversity of thought is like a catalyst for creativity. Different minds approach problems uniquely, bringing fresh ideas and innovative solutions to the table.

Diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace translate into better market insights and a deeper understanding of customer needs as well. Companies that understand and cater to this diversity have a better chance of thriving.

Beyond innovation and progress, it is also a matter of social responsibility. Ethical considerations, such as addressing biases and ensuring fair representation, are integral to the industry's reputation and long-term sustainability.