Computer science student Tessa spoke at the National Conference on Diversity in ICT Education

Tessa Hoppen (second from bottom right) with her fellow panelists

What does studying as a woman look like in a study program where men study mainly, and what can you do about it? Tessa Houben, a third-year student in computer science, spoke about the topic last Friday during the HBO-ICT Job & Student Event in Utrecht. “I often feel like I’m taken too seriously because I’m a woman.”

“It was so much fun, so much fun. I have a feeling the topic of inclusion in ICT education is coming to life. I didn’t think that was the case, so I am excited,” says Tessa, a third-year computer science student at Den Bosch, when asked how it felt to speak at the HBO-ICT Job & Student Event in Utrecht.

During the full-day event last Friday, prospective students, students, educators, researchers and internship firms from across the country attended to discuss their field. There were lectures, master classes, job fair and various sessions. Tessa joined the Diversity in ICT Education Team. She was asked to participate by Avans’ teacher, who had previously shared her experience as a woman in a male-dominated sector. Together with teachers, employers and researchers, I spoke in a panel discussion about women in the artistic sector, or rather their lack of it.

“During my studies I was still with a few first-year women, but I think they were doing it on purpose. Then I was in class with another girl, or I was the only one. At first it was weird,” says the first-year student. The third. “I was looking for ways to make it interesting for myself, and I founded the SV Concat Study Association with Linn Smetser, but I can very well imagine that not working for everyone. And that you feel lonely.”

Last July, 185 women studied in eight Academy of Technology and Design courses. There were 2,041 men against that. Then the Avans Hanneke van Hzik School started a project to do something about it.

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In the panel discussion, they were asked what it feels like for Tessa to be one of the few women to pursue a technical education. It has examples of the unpleasant situations that Tessa experienced during her studies or during internships. Although she would like to add that generally enthusiastic and extroverted people work in her sector, student Avans sees the incidents she has had as not isolated, but rather part of a larger problem. “I often feel less serious during my visits to the workplace because I am a woman. Then he does not look at me and I do not turn to me, only men. This is an unpleasant feeling,” she says frankly. “They often assume that as a woman I know less than men. And when I know the answer to a question, many men are surprised.”

Tessa Hobbin

the generation of the futuree
Tessa loves to work hard on this topic. Not even for herself, but because she hopes that after the necessary adjustments in the country, more female students will pursue technical education. It starts with the information days in high school, or even making technology lessons attractive to girls in elementary school. “A lot of talent is now being lost because women don’t feel welcome or because they think art education is not for them. I feel responsible for them.” “If no one does anything, nothing will change.”

‘A lot of talent is wasted now’

The computer science student and her fellow team members would like to see educational institutions invest more in recruiting women into technology courses. This can be done by using them in marketing campaigns and by having women participate in open days. In this way, potential students see that there are also women. Those in the room agreed, but according to Tessa, that’s not necessarily the target group they want to reach. These are the people who don’t care much about inclusion in technology education. It’s hard to reach them. If more and more women sign up for tech courses, including at Avans, it will become normal and the rest will not be able to ignore us anymore. I hope that.”

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