Girls in technology: In search of inspiration

The Role Models Initiative of the OVE makes successful girls and women in technology visible. Girls! TechUp role model Hüzüme Erkaptan in an interview about her career path, what drives her and how she masters the challenge.

©Toyota Material Handling Austria

Traditional roles are still firmly anchored in our society, and women in technology are still rare. This is set to change: The Role Models Initiative of the OVE makes successful girls and women in technology visible. Girls! TechUp role model Hüzüme Erkaptan in an interview about her career path, what drives her and how she masters the challenge of working in a male-dominated environment.

Hüzüme Erkaptan from Vienna is 21 years young, works as a project engineer at Toyota Material Handling Austria and is also completing a part-time degree in International Industrial Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien. And she is an official “Girls! Tech Up Role Model”: For the third time, OVE, the Austrian Association for Electrical Engineering, has brought a young woman who has found her professional future in technology in front of the curtain as part of the young talent initiative.

The initiative is intended to inspire girls – and for good reason: “There is currently a shortage of around 14,000 skilled workers in the industry as a whole, with every fourth vacancy remaining unfilled. The potential is far from exhausted, especially among women,” explains OVE Secretary General Peter Reichel.

The reasons for this lie in old role models that are difficult to combat. The self-doubt is too deep: can women also be successful in technology? Hüzüme Erkaptan in an interview about women in technology, how she deals with a male-dominated environment and how she wants to shape her future.

SBC: How did you find your way into the technical field? Was there a special experience or inspiration?

Hüzüme Erkaptan: There was no specific event. But since I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my father and helped him with technical repairs. I think that’s how my interest in technology developed. Many family members also work in logistics. So technology has always been a topic in our home and has certainly sparked my interest.

SBC: Did you already have experience or training in the technical field before your studies?

Hüzüme Erkaptan: My training began at a technical college, more precisely at the TGM in the 20th district. I completed a five-year apprenticeship there. I was already interested in technical work in my sublevel of high school and elementary school and was very good at it. I have always enjoyed manual work, which is why I was pretty sure that I wanted to continue in this field.

SBC: You work in Technical Planning. What tasks are involved?

Hüzüme Erkaptan: My job is to calculate storage racks, which can vary depending on storage requirements. These can be narrow aisle racking that requires special equipment, or pallet and shelving racking. I calculate the weight and static properties of the shelves in order to set prices. Based on the warehouse layout, we present various design proposals, taking into account the investment costs and the efficient use of space. In the next step, I prepare offers for the customer and provide support in the decision-making process.

For the calculations, I have to take many different criteria into account, such as the budget and the customer’s needs. That’s what makes my job so varied and has broadened my perspective ever since.

©Toyota Material Handling Austria

SBC: How do you keep up to date with the latest technological developments in your field? Are there opportunities for further training outside of your studies, for example at Toyota Material Handling Austria?

Hüzüme Erkaptan: Of course, there were many possibilities in this respect. My supervisor and I discussed a lot of future plans together to drive my development forward. There are numerous projects in our department and we are trying to ensure that I can take part in some of them. Even if it’s only on a small scale, it’s a great learning experience to just be there, listen and participate.

I already had various responsibilities in the area of Support Logistic Solutions. And although my focus is now more on the calculation of storage racks, I am still involved in other areas as well. In terms of learning, my supervisor was an immense support. When I spent a semester abroad in Finland last semester, he strongly encouraged me to do so. He helped me with the planning, as it was not easy to take such a step alongside my studies and work. His support, as well as that of my division manager, was great.

SBC: How do you see your professional future in this area? Do you have specific goals or ambitions, similar to the big goals you saw in Finland?

Hüzüme Erkaptan: For me, it’s less about achieving certain positions and more about shaping my path and remaining flexible. I would like to work in different areas and continuously develop myself further. This has worked well so far, and I hope it will continue to do so in the future.

SBC: What skills and qualities do you think are important in this area? You work in logistics, a male-dominated field – why should women conquer this sector?

Hüzüme Erkaptan: Openness and the willingness to make mistakes are crucial. It is important to try things out, because you often learn just as much from mistakes as from successes. Women face challenges in many areas, not just in technology. It is important not to be deterred by such challenges. The diversity of perspectives and the skills that women can bring to technology are crucial for development and innovation.

Her appeal: “Technology needs you, if you are motivated and interested, then don’t hesitate” Hüzüme Erkaptan adds further concluding words: “Technology definitely needs the participation of women. Today’s world of technology requires much more than just manual skills. Diverse mindsets and talents are needed to tackle today’s challenges. Women have a crucial role to play in solving them.”

The Viennese would like to encourage all women to be curious and inquisitive and to courageously seize opportunities that arise or to stand up for their goals and wishes.

Thank you very much for the interview – and good luck for the future!

To the Girls! TECH UP initiative of the OVE:

Old role models are still firmly anchored in our society, and we often lack the self-confidence to be active in technology. Initiatives such as “Girls Tech Up” are committed to overcoming these obstacles. Workshops, mentoring programs, networking programs and events encourage girls and women to develop their skills in the areas of technology and innovation.

The Role Models initiative makes women in technology visible and sends a signal: Women are also successful in technical professions. More information at https://www.letstech.at/girls-tech-up/

OVE/Martin Fürthner. The award was presented by juror Marion Mitsch, Managing Director of the Association of the Electrical and Electronics Industry, at the OVE Innovation Day evening event in Vienna.

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Verfasst von Lena Schönthaler