She works to make German technology more inclusive
The grassroots-led initiative, called FrauenLoop (“women’s loop”, referring to the idea that women are left out of the loop in the tech world), has grown steadily since its founding in 2016. Stefflbauer is the CEO of the organization and has formed relationships with various companies, including GitHub, EcoVadis and Taxfix, which donate and run workshops. FrauenLoop now has a core of around 30 mentors, and each year around 150 participants take courses in areas such as comprehensive web development, data science and software test automation. The organization also offers job search support and guidance for navigating and thriving in what Stefflbauer calls the “non-utopian” environment of tech employment.
Women of nearly 40 nationalities have participated in the program. Stefflbauer cites examples of participants who found well-paying jobs in the industry, including seven former interns who joined SAP. On average, she says, of the 50 women who complete the organization’s extended 12-month program each year, 10 to 15 are hired into full-time positions. “Keeping track of women after training is essential for me,” she says.
FrauenLoop’s numbers may seem small compared to the scale of the challenges of technological diversity in Berlin. But Sarah Chander, senior policy adviser at the Brussels-based group European Digital Rights, says the organization has done valuable work. “FrauenLoop was one of the few tech inclusion initiatives that focused on racialized and marginalized women,” she says. “This has been vital in a world where tech companies have systematically excluded and even harmed women of color.” Chander says she expects FrauenLoop’s influence to spread more widely in Europe.
Stefflbauer works for the German Startup Association and is working on a book featuring the first-person accounts of black women in top positions in international tech industries. It’s all part of his larger goal of pushing for change. “As important and impactful as the sector is globally,” she says, “it should be a place where all of us can see ourselves reflected, accepted and our aspirations fulfilled.”
Gouri Sharma is a Berlin-based freelance journalist and writer.
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