She also had concerns on the first day of her studies, says Nina Mandl.
Would there only be computer science students sitting in the room at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, as you know them from films, withdrawn, quiet nerds and above all: all male?
"It was more colorful than expected," she says today, three years later.
"But not as colorful as hoped."
According to the Competence Center Technology-Diversity-Equal Opportunities, which uses data from the Federal Statistical Office for its calculations, the proportion of women studying computer science in Germany has been a good 20 percent in recent years.
It was similarly high for bachelor's and master's degrees.
However, only about 17 percent of doctorates were women, and 14.2 percent of the professors remained in 2020.
According to the Statistical Office of the European Union, 19 percent of those who worked in IT professions in Germany last year were women.
That's a problem, says Nicola Marsden, Professor of Socioinformatics at Heilbronn University: "For whom and by whom artefacts are made is connected." products would be needed and what they should look like.
And because most of them are male, this creates products that work primarily for men.
There doesn't have to be any ill will behind it: it's difficult to think of needs or obstacles that you've never experienced yourself.
Smartphones are too big for women's hands
But the result is that video conferencing tools convey lower, male voices better than higher, female ones.
That smartphones tend to be too big for women's hands, but not for men's hands.
That virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa are naturally female.
Or that "Mr." is the default form of address for online forms, even though "Ms." is higher up in the alphabet - and options for non-binary people are often completely absent.
That, says Marsden, has also been noted by others, such as journalist Caroline Criado-Perez in her nearly 500-page book Invisible Women.
With artificial intelligence, Marsden explains, the problem takes on a life of its own: AI has to learn from existing data, but this data often relates to men.
In medicine, for example, medicines were tested primarily on men for a long time, or typically male symptoms were considered to be typically human.
In addition, data often reflect stereotypes: women are often considered less competent than men due to sexist prejudices and therefore receive poorer ratings on job portals, for example, which is why they only appear further down on these pages.
However, the AI and also people who see this do not necessarily know this connection, but incorrectly conclude from it: Men are better than women.
And give men the job.
The silver bullet, says Marsden, would be to have all genders on the team instead and also to involve users in the development of IT products on an equal footing.
In the meantime, nobody doubts that mixed teams bring better results, even if the extent of the problem has by no means reached everyone.
“The challenge is getting that on the road,” says Marsden.
Introduce children and young people to computer science
Nina Mandl, 22, is now committed to getting people onto the streets with the “Starcode” association, which she founded together with Friedrich Wicke, also 22, and a handful of others about a year ago.
Mandl has just completed her media informatics studies, Wicke is studying computer science for a master's degree.
There are not too many initiatives like yours in this country.
Starcode currently has around 30 members in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the USA, not all of them, but many are computer science students.
Wicke says about the commitment of the association: "We need the best computer scientists, and no more than 50 percent of them should be boys." In addition, computer science means money, power, future - in his opinion, women should have a larger share.