Maria Häll (Sunet)
What is your current role in the industry?
I’m manager for the Swedish University Network - SUNET - the Swedish national research and education network (NREN). I am a member of the NORDUnet and RIPE NCC Boards and am the Chair of the Swedish chapter of the Internet Society, ISOC.
Why did you choose a career in the tech industry?
I’ve always been interested in science and technology, even since I was a child. When I was a kid I wanted to be a scientist.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman working in the industry?
I have been fortunate to not meet any specific challenges being a woman. I have always been treated with respect for my knowledge and for my different roles. I know that is not always the case for women in the industry! I’ve been lucky I guess!
What do you think needs to be done to help promote more diversity in the tech industry?
We need more female role models. And we, who are women in the industry, need to step forward, be more visible, and take space. We should also acknowledge how diversity supports us in making better decisions. When I was working for the Swedish government I saw how valuable it is to have a strong mix of people, ages, skills and genders working together at a high level. During 2012, there was a showdown on crucial issues of Internet Governance during the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). Working together with the Internet industry, the Swedish government took a strong position to defend the freedom of the Internet. The diversity of people involved here and their actions at a very important time in the Internet’s history is a great example of the powerful benefits of diversity.
What do you think the future holds for women working in the tech industry?
The more diverse the tech industry gets, the more opportunities become available. The tech industry needs to have wider perspectives to be innovative. And then diversity is a must. The more that women step forward, and allow their voices to be heard, the more other women will realise they too can share their knowledge and take their place in the community. We have an incredible generation of extremely talented women coming into the industry. I want them to have the confidence to take their place in the current technical communities and help build new, even more inclusive, communities.
What do you wish you had known when starting your career?
I didn’t realise all the different jobs and roles in different areas you can get as a Master of Science in Computer Science, as I am. I've been fortunate to be able to work in so many different sectors (for example the steel industry, municipalities, the Swedish government offices and now the research and higher education sector). The fact that you can work in so many different areas and sector is a good driver. I didn’t know that from the beginning.