Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI


Overcoming obstacles together

Attracting more female students to HPI - that is our goal for the future. Role models like HPI student Charlotte Balcke are already working every day to get young women and girls interested in computer science and to make it easier for them to start an IT career.Unfortunately, this is still associated with many obstacles for women.We asked our female scientists at HPI what needs to change for Women+ in Tech in the future.

HPI student and role model Charlotte Balcke
HPI student and role model Charlotte Balcke

Women in Tech @ HPI

With the "Women in Tech Empower Pack" scholarship, HPI travel grants and events such as Girls' Day, HPI supports young IT enthusiasts from school age. An overview of all programmes can be found here.

Our soon-to-be Master's student at HPI Charlotte Balcke initiated the "empowerHER" project, aimed at encouraging young women to develop interest in the STEM fields and discover their own talents. "What I cherish most about my studies at HPI is the enriching environment and the diverse individuals with lots of different interests that all connect through a shared passion for computer science", Charlotte says. After her graduation, she wants to use her education to develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges and contribute to a better world and a more supportive society.

"I see a bright future for women in tech!"

Ferdous Nasri, Ph.D. candidate at the Data Analytics and Computational Statistics chair

HPI: What are you researching at HPI? Why is your research topic personally important to you?

Ferdous Nasri: I am working on developing machine learning and algorithmic approaches for detecting pathogenic outbreaks. In order to help people and mitigate spread of disease, it is crucial to detect pathogens early and predict their spread effectively. With COVID19, the topic received global attention which propelled the field forward. I chose to do a PhD at HPI to be at the forefront of scientific development and be able to inspire students through projects and teaching.  

HPI: What do you see as the biggest obstacles for girls and women in the IT sector?

Ferdous Nasri: A big obstacle is to start in a field where you don't see many role models that look like you, and in an environment that is unfortunately not always supportive. But IT so interesting and fascinating. The ability to make things with code in a creative, problem-solving way is empowering. After being in this branch for over a decade, I can confidently say that the field is changing and I see a bright future for women in tech. 

HPI: What do you wish for the future with regard to women in IT?In your opinion, what support and/or programmes are needed to provide future female IT students with the best possible support when entering the tech industry?

Ferdous Nasri: A safe community where women can learn together with role models and support from leading figures. I was very lucky to learn how to code in a community made for women in tech, named Rails Girls. I know from first-hand experience how wonderful and helpful such a supportive community can be. I later co-founded a successful organisation, named code curious, where we offer free coding workshops for over 1400 absolute women* beginners. The demand for that just proved that there are many people who are interested to learn but lack resources and open communities with role models. 


"Men and women are like the two wings of a bird"

Arpita Kappattanavar, Ph.D. candidate at the Digital Health - Connected Healthcare chair

HPI: What are you researching at HPI, and why is your research topic personally important to you?

Arpita Kappattanavar: Exploring Affective Computing Approach to Support Healthy Eating Behaviors. I am deeply inspired by the Baháʼí Faith's teachings, particularly the teachings of Baháʼu'lláh, who stresses the importance of managing diseases through diet, avoiding habits leading to unhappiness, and addressing the root causes of illnesses. These principles guide my research into exploring how affective states impact eating behaviors. By focusing on this area, I believe I can make a meaningful contribution to serving mankind.

HPI: What do you see as the biggest barriers for girls and women in IT?

Arpita Kappattanavar: The glass ceiling significantly impedes career advancement in hiring, promotions, and evaluations, creating substantial obstacles to professional growth.

HPI: What do you wish for the future with regard to women in tech/IT? What kind of promotions or offers are needed to give young women the best possible support when entering the tech industry?

Arpita Kappattanavar: In envisioning the future of women in tech, it is important to recognize that men and women are like the two wings of a bird. To support young women entering the tech industry, we must cultivate an environment of equality, justice, and equity. Both men and women need training programs at the outset and should have technical and soft skills. These soft skills are needed for navigating the complexities of the workplace, advocating for justice, and articulating opinions and suggestions with confidence and tact.  Initiatives like mentorship programs, women-centric scholarships, and internships can transform how we support young women in IT. These initiatives empower women with the necessary skills and knowledge and build networks of support and inspiration. Additionally, we need to foster an organizational culture that values and respects diverse opinions and contributions. This includes training all employees to recognize, respect, and encourage women's voices in technology. Leadership roles should be accessible to women, showcasing them as contributors, decision-makers, and innovators. Such visibility is needed to inspire the next generation of women in tech.