Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

FrauenLoop: Women in Tech, CVs, and Compensation

March 10, 2018: Expert panelists from N26, Zalando, WeSource, and Oetker Digital with Dr. Stefflbauer

FrauenLoop Berlin recently hosted a Meetup called “Master the Art of Salary Negotiation.” It was a hands-on workshop bringing more than 40 people together with tech talent experts to receive individualized feedback on their CVs, discuss compensation, and engage in necessary practice negotiating the gender wage gap.

As a community for women applying computer programming and digital technology to their daily lives, FrauenLoop supports women in finding their professional fit. The March 10th Meetup focused on how to represent yourself via your CV and how to negotiate compensation for a desired role.

Finding the right role in any industry can be challenging. The subsequent negotiation of a fair salary can have a major impact on one’s life quality and career path.

Panel critiques CVs projected on screen for the benefit of the whole audience

FrauenLoop’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Nakeema Stefflbauer, kicked off the meeting with a presentation introducing why, especially in Germany, this workshop is so necessary. Despite a bit more transparency, the wage gap in Germany is still a significant issue, where women are paid 21% less than men for doing the same job.

Dr. Stefflbauer shared reference websites for women changing countries, who might not know the after-tax value of a stated (gross) salary. She also shared strategies for women re-entering the workforce who might need to prioritize benefits in order to evaluate compensation offers. Before introducing a group of guest experts, Dr. Stefflbauer quoted the German Minister of Women’s Affairs, Manuela Schwesig, who recently said:

“We have to break the taboo that you don’t talk about money, because we want to make sure that men and women aren’t played off against each other when it comes to wages.”

An immensely practical and well-coordinated session followed, featuring an invited panel of experienced women in tech companies and startup recruitment from Zalando, N26, WeSource UG, and Oetker Digital. Not only did the group address both technical and non-technical roles within the Tech Industry, but the experts offered practical tips on CV organization and real-world usage — even demonstrating how there is no single “standard” for a winning CV for every company. According to the panelists, “Online behavior gets looked at too.” They recommended ensuring that your online activity is in line with the image you want to present.

CV Tips:

  • The CV is just one way to communicate your professional character.
  • The primary goal of the CV is to get past the 1st screening. Then it is up to your negotiating skills.
  • Remove any outdated information: for example early education (either primary school or outdated information).

In today’s hiring market, employers or HR representatives fish people out of their jobs. Headhunting is a common reality. If you have a job, it is even more likely that someone will come looking for you. This is especially true in data science, sales, marketing, and design.

Participants listening to feedback from panelists

Change in Status, Lowered Pay?

Given the broad range of backgrounds and cultures represented at the workshop, we heard plenty of different perspectives: engineers needing to refocus on web or other programming skills after moving from Greece or Iran; recent graduates trying to position themselves for success in startups after academia; mothers of young children from Syria, Egypt, Germany and Romania, all of whom wanted to know how much of their ‘old lives’ to include in their professional re-entry.

A lively debate ensued around whether women chose lower-paid work after returning from pregnancy, or if it is simply what they are typically offered, especially in Germany. Dr. Stefflbauer showed statistics suggesting that the overwhelming majority of German women leave work for anywhere from under one year to over three years, primarily listing children as the cause.

Employers Only Pay for What (Skills) They Need

Every expert panelist agreed that properly positioning oneself is critical. They also agreed that employers will not pay for all of your awesomeness if it isn’t related to, or contributing to, the job: employers pay for experiences you have that are pertinent to the role, or that add to your ability to excel. It’s your job to identify and sell your skill set so that employers feel they are relevant are the work to be done.

The recruitment process is actually an opportunity to align your superpowers with the goals, interests, and culture of the company to which you are applying. There was a special emphasis on observing company culture in terms of a candidate’s ability to research what websites, blogs, social media channels are saying about a company.

“They are shouting it (company culture) out via Meetups, etc.” said the Zalando expert, Manjuri Sinha

Breakout sessions led by tech recruiting experts for attendees to gain practice negotiating a role

Don’t Empower Me, Pay Me

After the CV critique, Dr. Stefflbauer sent the women into breakout groups with recruitment experts, to engage in intensive role-play negotiation sessions. Surprisingly for Germany, where pay discussions are still pretty taboo, each group soon had women talking about money, bonuses, and compensation options that are rarely discussed or (in the case of stock options) well-understood.

This exchange highlighted the importance of women discussing their professional value in terms of skills and concrete achievements or milestones. Less emotional, more data-driven language is best and, as one data scientist pointed out: “keep in mind that the smaller startup, the more work you have to do.”

Mindset Matters

Although some of the negotiation techniques presented were specific to women, others were not. In fact, the wealth of resources that FrauenLoop presented drew from curated tech industry know-how and the real-life experience of the invited experts. Ultimately, the event focused on getting the women to adopt a negotiator mindset.

This analytic mindset applies to your attitude about each company you evaluate. Women were encouraged to consider many aspects: salary, equity, reputation, as well as cultural fit, challenge of the work, and potential to grow.

Attending this session was valuable. The thorough handout for attendees was a goldmine of information on negotiation and Berlin’s Wooga gaming company was a fantastic backdrop– cheerful, creative, and egalitarian. Interestingly, Wooga makes a popular game featuring a powerful female adventurer as the protagonist.

A playful corner at Wooga in Berlin

You’ll have to attend a future FrauenLoop session yourself to benefit from such useful wisdom! The final slide of the presentation summed up the sentiment of the day, with a message that advertising maverick Cindy Gallop tweeted the day before International Women’s Day 2018:

Part of the group posing with a popular #IWD2018 tweet in the background

Join the FrauenLoop Berlin Meetup Group to be notified of future sessions. People are encouraged to participate! Whatever aspect of tech interests you, whatever stage you are in your career, nothing beats learning from a global community of women working to support other women in technology.

Originally posted by Elisheva Marcus.