It's no secret that Denmark has a rather good track record when it comes to technology. The small northern European country has consistently ranked near the top in studies comparing national technology industries and access to the benefits of the internet in an increasingly connected world.
Yet the world of programmers and tech engineers has been plagued with one glaring issue: the lack of gender diversity. And not just in Denmark. At Google women make up only 17 percent of the technical employees, and at Facebook the figure is even lower at 15 percent. According to a survey conducted this year by Stackflow, out of the 26,000 programmers from 157 different countries surveyed only 5.8 percent identified as female.
Expat Plamena Cherneva is striving to bring gender balance to Denmark's technology industry.
Cherneva came to Denmark from Bulgaria more than five years ago to pursue her ambitions in technology. But it wasn't all roses and sunshine for her in her new home.
“When I first came to study in Denmark, there were 20 students in my course but only two women including me. The only other woman dropped out before graduating due to a lack of support from the university,” she told The Local.
“It was certainly a struggle to graduate for me here in Denmark and to make a career for myself in technology. This was primarily due to the huge gender inequality I faced, which led to a lack of support and became a major barrier to developing a strong social network,” she continued.
This led to Cherneva taking the initiative to create Codher, a Copenhagen based organization that aims to “diminish the perceived barriers facing the IT industry and make it accessible for those who are interested in pursuing a career in the industry,” according to their website.
Codher offers workshops and seminars in programming, web design, IT project management and entrepreneurship. But the course offers more than just the educational side of technology, as Cherneva told The Local.
“Here at Codher we are not only helping students follow their academic ambitions, but we are supporting them and giving them a huge community within the world of tech, something I've felt is seriously lacking in Denmark,” she said.
Codher is not only available for women looking to get into tech, but to anyone wanting to get involved in the industry. The group has received support from many like-minded males.
“We don't want to be labelled as some sort of new feminist organisation, so of course our doors are open to everyone. We are getting great support from men, helping us with organizing our workshops and mentoring our attendees,” Cherneva said.
Codher has already found a partnership with the Copenhagen based tech company Pandisign, which is are aiming to utilize the expertise coming out of Codher, and to improve the gender balance within the company.
More about Codher can be found here.