Review: “Women in Tech” at the TOA 2017

© Collage / Catarina Marques Teles

Editor Catie visited the Tech Open Air 2017 – the leading interdisciplinary technology festival in Europe. A review

If you were in Berlin last week, you probably heard: The Tech Open Air 2017 (or TOA17, for short) took place once again on the premises of the Funkhaus Berlin. Around 20,000 visitors found their way to the Funkhaus – located directly on the Spree – to follow more than 190 lectures and panel discussions over the course of the main two days. But what’s the story behind the TOA? Founder and CEO Nikolas Woischnik created the concept of the Tech Open Air to provide a shared platform for technological advancement, art, music, and science since 2012. It’s a meeting point for the international startup scene to establish a steady exchange between consumers and industry insiders and leaders.

Our personal highlight: The panel discussion “Women in Tech,” which took place on Wednesday morning. Imogen Heap (founder, Mycelia | founder, MiMu Gloves), Sandra Fründt (marketing director, B2B Dach Google), and Shermin Voshmgir (founder, BlockchainHub) were invited to participate and Sabrina Hoffmann (editor-in-chief Business Insider Germany) served as the moderator. The topic was – surprise – women in the tech industry.

The discussion, which was far too limited in time, broached an issue that everyone present was already aware of: There are too few women in the tech industry, women studying at technical universities, and female founders of companies. At the closing round table, you could personally ask the speakers more exact questions and get concrete approaches and answers.

Even if we’re not yet where we’d like to be, to see that it is happening – women and tech – leaves the hope that we and the generations that follow us will move more and more into the industry and that soon it won’t just be 13% of companies founded by women (that was the percentage of female CEOs at the TOA), but 50%. However, these three inspirational women from the panel are already making a good start:

Imogen Heap (Founder, Mycelia | Founder, MiMu Gloves (2 Grammy Awards))

A musician and producer, Heap doesn’t just already have two Grammys in the categories of Best Album (as producer) and Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) to her name and a hard-won reputation as a producer in a male-dominated industry, but has also developed gloves that you can make music with. She’s a true pioneer who has developed a technology that has made electronic music even freer than was already the case.

Instagram:, @imogenheap

Sandra Fründt – (Marketing Director, B2B Dach Google)

This woman studied classic business administration when this was still considered a men’s field. She worked for companies like Arcor, Cocomore, and Vodafone before taking up her current position at Google as the marketing director for B2B Dach. In her opinion, you don’t absolutely have to learn to program to land a job at a tech company as a woman. It’s much more about integrity and interest in the product per se, she says, and she confirms that with her own persona.

Dr. Shermin Voshmgir – (Founder, BlockchainHub)

She received her doctorate in business information technology, is from Vienna, and her confident demeanor is enthralling and comes across as very charming. As the founder of BlockchainHub, a company that advances, communicates and discusses the so-called blockchain technology, she’s not only a pioneer but a source of encouragement for other women to become self-employed themselves. The technology is based on endless chains of digital data sets that put classical software formats into question and it’s shaking up the financial world – cryptocurrency Bitcoin is among those using this format. In her opinion, technically relevant careers have to be made more attractive to women and young girls so that, especially in Germany, more female growth in the area can result.

Instagram: @blockchainhub

The talk showed once again how large and how strong the demand for emancipation in the tech scene is. The hope remains that the awareness of female speakers (and entrepreneurs) will grow larger with every year.

Until next year and TOA18! ;-)

Watch the full Live Stream of Day 1 here:

TOA17 didn’t just take place on the days mentioned above, but also during additional satellite events that took place around Berlin between July 11 and July 14, 2017.

Instagram (@toaberlin)
YouTube Channel

Translation: Melissa Frost