Message of the 320+ Developer Change Conference: Encourage Your Female Colleagues

Change konferencija u Zagrebu

With over 320 developers attending, the first Change conference to take place in Zagreb, was a huge success thanks to a focused technology agenda and interesting speakers such as Oracle’s Geertjan Wielenga and TVbeat’s Alan Pavičić.

Which is why I was more than happy to participate in the closing panel on how software is influencing society, alongside my friend, one of Croatia’s most  and Croatian Makers founder Nenad Bakić .

Joining us were KING ICT Java team lead and Rochester Institute of Technology professor Aleksander Radovan and Oracle’s developer advocate for open source projects Geertjan Wielenga.

Over 300 developer visited the Change conference!

Over 300 developer visited the Change conference!

Honestly, when I got the (high level) questions such as when super computers and big data will bring the 2nd cognitive revolution or a post-human era, I knew I had to do my research. Other topics that we tackled included:

  • What educational models can relate to the fast changing software landscape, a topic that Nenad started the conference in his opening talk;
  • What are the next industries that the business model shift that comes along with software will disrupt? Guess my pic – yep, it’s my own, beloved media industry that I believe will be completely reinvented in the next 5 years thanks to agile players such as Rafat Ali’s Skift as well as my own Netokracija, ‘The Techcrunch of the Balkans’.

Speaking of agile: Programme director and panel moderator Roko Roić wasn’t going to let us out easy and wanted us to dive deep into the central question in the panel’s title. Having in mind that Roko is the author of Croatia’s first book on the Agile methodology, moving fast and learning on our initial answers actually led to a pretty ‘agile’ discussion. Punny, I know! 😜

Nenad Bakić held the opening keynote.

Nenad Bakić held the opening keynote.

How Can We Get Encourage More Female Developers in Croatia

My personal favorite part of the discussion was about women in technology since Roko thought that recently celebrating Ada Lovelace Day was the perfect ’trigger’ to talk about the fact that women make up less than 30 percent of the technology industry! What we discussed was how we could attract more women into STEM and is positive discrimination the way.

Nenad took us back to middle school, arguing that based on both data as well as practical experience from Croatian Makers’ STEM education projects, girls were quite interested into learning about technology. At least a 3rd of all the kids attending Croatian Makers classes on building STEM robots were girls, proving that the problem doesn’t stem (ouch) from early childhood.

Aleksandar agreed, saying that the problem is more visible in university such as RIT, Algebra and the Polytechnic of Zagreb where he teaches Java. Women, unfortunately, didn’t make up nearly a 3rd or his students, showing that we need to encourage young girls that technology truly is an interesting and viable career choice.


My own answer was preceded by a simple question: Why was a panel that tackled this topic as well as 100% of the speaker list made up entirely of men? Roko agreed, saying how difficult it was to find female speakers, which is why he wanted to include the question in the panel.

Netokracija's Ladies of New Business with more than 150 geekettes!

Netokracija’s Ladies of New Business with more than 150 geekettes! (Photo by Luka Travas)

Moving on, and based on comments and talks by the lovely ladies of Netokracija’s Ladies of New Business women in tech conference, I argued that a lot of women just weren’t sure of themselves to ask for a raise, or pitch to talk at a conference such as Change. It’s not that they weren’t truly ready, they just didn’t feel ‘100% sure’ that it was the right time or that they had enough experience. A comment from the audience, which Geertjan agree with, is that the technology industry and development aren’t the most friendly of environments for women.

While women are aware of all these issues, I argued (and will continue to do so) that it’s the job of us guys to also stand up, participate and encourage our female colleagues and friends in the industry to pounce on opportunities.

Just as Ada Lovelace did, as a mathematician and writer in the early 19th century, becoming the world’s first programmer.

P.S. I love the fact that alongside the custom craft edition of Zmajsko (that I ♥️) beer, Roko used a well known ‘agile’ technique to open them when we couldn’t find a bottle opener!

About Ivan Brezak Brkan

I'm the founder and editor of Netokracija, always interested in new digital experiences.

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