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More women in digital jobs please!

We recently reported on the Digital Agenda's news that getting more women into IT could boost Europe's economy by 9 billion euros. Today, we're continuing that theme by introducing you to three of the women in technical roles within the Europeana Network - we asked them what they do and how they got there. Please share their stories to show more women that they can follow in their footsteps!

First up, Vivien Petras, a Europeana Network member:

What is your job and what does it involve?

I am a professor for Information Retrieval at the Berlin School for Library and Information Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. My job involves researching aspects of multilingual access and interactions in information systems and their evaluation. I also teach and supervise students at Bachelor, Master and PhD levels in pursuing degrees (and then jobs!) in the field of information.

Did you always want to work in the digital world?

Yes. When I got started, the World Wide Web was just becoming popular. I wanted to be not only a part of this environment, but also somebody who knows how to organise and manage information in all its forms. These days, that means working in and with digital technology.

How did you come to be working where you are now?

After receiving my PhD in Information Management and Systems, I worked in a public service and research institution developing and evaluating portals for social scientists before becoming a professor. Working on applied problems as opposed to basic research shapes my research agenda.

Do you have any advice for girls who are thinking about a job in the digital sector?

Do it! It's one of the most exciting sectors to work in. Don't be afraid to not know something, you can learn it. Developments in the digital world are moving so rapidly, everyone has to learn new things and adapt constantly. That's the fun part. :)

Next up, Kerstin Arnold, Europeana Network member:

What is your job and what does it involve?

I work on the Archives Portal Europe network of excellence (APEx) which builds on, expands and enhances the Archives Portal Europe. I am basically involved in most project activities from project management to technical planning and testing to standards definition as well as dissemination and training activities. This also enables me to act as the project's Technical Coordinator, as this requires having a solid overview of what is happening and what is planned in the different work packages of the project in order to best align these with the overall project plan. In addition, I am also leading one of the work packages that ensures that the Archives Portal Europe can act as a domain aggregrator for Europeana.

Did you always want to work in the digital world?

My first master's degree was in Communication Sciences, Theatre and Literature and the initial plan, if you want to call it that, wasto become a classic newspaper editor in the cultural sector. So, I started out with different jobs in Public Relations and online editing as a freelance. After some years, I decided to do some more studying, this time in Library and Information Management, which also included some general courses on HTMLand online publishing.

How did you come to be working where you are now?

As my second masters degree was part-time, I had time to experiment with new domains for future working opportunities. One was at the Federal Archives of Germany, where I am now working for the APEx project, in publishing the commented minutes of the German Federal Cabinet meetings. This was my entry into the archives world and when I finished my studies, I simply got lucky that the Federal Archive had a new project starting at that exact time. That project dealt with a regional and thematic portal, but also used the international XML standards that the Archives Portal Europe is based on. The day-to-day work with these standards and the direct interaction with the software company, which at that time did the technical development, gave me the solid knowledge base that now forms the main part of my job.

Do you have any advice for girls who are thinking about a job in the digital sector?

The digital sector is a broad field allowing for all different kinds of jobs and specialisations. Therefore, I think my main advice would be try to get some hands-on experience allowing you to get an overview as well as a look at the details to see whether your interest lies in technical aspects, in research and development, in dissemination of digital and digitised material, in supporting and training institutions on their way to the digital sector or in a combination of these. Although they only have a short lifespan, geting involved in a project with give you the best experience, in my opinion, because they usually combine so many tasks that it is possible to get a bit of everything, which might help in defining one's field of specialisation.

And finally, we go back to the Europeana Office to meet Valentine Charles:

What is your job and what does it involve?

I'm working as a Data Research and Development coordinator at the Europeana Foundation. My role involves advising, sharing knowledge and communicating Europeana’s scientific coordination and R&D activities to the network. I'm also more specifically coordinating the further development and adoption of the Europeana Data Model.

Did you always want to work in the digital world?

No. When I started my studies, my initial wish was to work with cultural heritage as a librarian or archivist. I was really intimidated by technology and thought it was not for me. During my studies I got more and more familiar with various technologies and saw how they could be applied to the cultural heritage domain, which was my specialty, and how they could bring solutions to problems which couldn't be resolve in a more 'physical' environment

How did you come to be working at Europeana?

I first 'met' Europeana during an internship I was doing for one of Europeana’s sister projects, The European Library. I was then hired directly by Europeana after the completion of my masters degree, which was in 'New Technologies applied to History'.

Do you have any advice for girls who are thinking about a job in the digital sector?

I can only recommend it. I have seem schoolmates doing studies in humanities and then being afraid to switch to the digital sector. On the contrary, I think the combination of skills can be a real asset. It is a way to approach some more traditional sectors such as cultural heritage from a different angle. It is also a very dynamic environment which always brings new ideas, new challenges, nothing to get tired of!

If this blog has inspired you to get involved in the digital world, check out Europeana's current vacancies!

Show your support for more women in digital jobs by tweeting with the following hashtags: #girlsinict, #girlsdigital, #womendigital

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The Europeana Professional Blog is for people working in the field of digital cultural heritage. For more information or to contribute, contact beth.daley@bl.uk.

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