Shirin Alhroob met Ozlem Eren at Idea Teknoloji Cozumleri, an IT company in Maslak, Turkey. Eren is an employee with more than 10 years’ experience who helps Fortune 500 companies manage cloud enterprise software applications in order to reach their strategic objectives.
Idea Teknoloji Cozumleri was etablished in 2005 to maintain effective management of sales processes by using technology. Today, Idea Teknoloji Cozumleri is the long-term partner of many multinational corporations which have extensive sales and distribution network in Turkey and neighboring countries.
Shirin Alhroob: When you were a child, were you interested in using computers?
Ozlem Eren: When I was a kid, I was not curious about the computer.
SA: Why did you decide to pursue a career in IT programming or computer science?
OE: I started working as a production planner upon graduation. There, the planning started to be done with IT programming software. I started working on a software implementation project—this is how I got into IT. Then my career takes off from there.
SA: How often do you feel accepted by your male colleagues in the workplace or in school?
OE: I don’t feel like I am discriminated against. For me there is no problem, but maybe that's related to my personality. I trust my knowledge and my capability. I am not coming from a conservative family or environment. Men and women must be equal.
SA: What are the obstacles that prevent women in Turkey from becoming involved in the IT sector?
OE: I think it started from their childhood—how we are raised. Mainly girls are raised to be a teacher or nurse. The idea parents put in the girl’s mind is to get married. If you put that objective in the girl’s mind, don’t expect them to go into the IT sector.
SA: How does the payment structure for women compare to the payment structure for men?
OE: I think it depends on negotiation. Men negotiate more about the payment. Women settle for less payment if they are married.
SA: How can IT programming open a new window of opportunity for women?
OE: In the company I worked for, networking and cybersecurity jobs were dominated by men. While coding, programming, and system analytics jobs were dominated by women.
SA: How can IT programming skills improve women's likelihood of employability and allow them to work remotely?
OE: Working from home in our country is not a common option. We don’t have a policy to work from home. International companies have one day a week you can work from home. I think it's preferable for women to work in the field—and set an example for others. Seeing women in the field can be an inspiration for other women.
SA: Is there gender segregation in the IT sector as observed in other sectors?
OE: I think it is the same as the other sectors. As in other sectors, I observe that the rules of the majority apply.
This interview has been edited for clarity.