An Advocate for Women & Diversity in Tech
April 2022 | Written by – Ariel Slaughter
What do you do when your current career path no longer excites you? Do you stay or go? It certainly is easier to stay but sometimes life requires a bold leap into the unknown. Ingelou Stol chose to be bold and pursue her passion in a new high-tech field in Brabant and has never looked back.
From Journalist to Tech Storyteller
Ingelou is a Dutch national who began her professional career as a journalist, reporter and news anchor for various broadcasting stations in the Netherlands. It was a job she loved and excelled in. “I had a blooming career as a journalist. I loved telling the stories about what was happening in the world and explaining it to others.” While it was an ‘amazing’ and ‘fulfilling’ job, after eight years, she realized something was missing. “I missed something to fight for, to put my passion in a project and to think of something bigger that would last for a longer time.”
This led to a period of self-reflection to discover her real passion and what kind of career could fulfill it. “I almost had a quarter-life crisis. ‘What do I want to do? What makes me happy?’ and then I thought, ‘it’s making stories.’” With her passion revealed, someone pointed her towards journalism beyond media outlets. “Someone said to me, ‘you could be a journalist and not work in the media, right?’” Initially, she dismissed the idea but slowly began to think that perhaps storytellers such as herself were needed elsewhere in the world as well.
Life at High Tech Campus Eindhoven
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when a chance encounter guided her to the technology industry and the High Tech Campus Eindhoven (HTCE). “I met a physicist and he told me more about the Eindhoven region and all the technologies that are being developed there. And I loved it because I am a STORYTELLER at heart, and this is where the future is being created. So, I switched to the tech world and I am now the Communication Manager and storyteller for the High Tech Campus Eindhoven.”
Ingelou describes the HTCE as the “Silicon Valley of Europe”. It is a place where more than 12,000 people work for high-tech companies, large and small, to create the technologies of tomorrow. And Ingelou is there to tell their stories. “I make documentaries, podcasts, create knowledge sessions, events where these companies can tell their stories. And it is through this job, that I created one of my biggest missions and passions which is called Fe+male Tech Heroes.”
“If you look at the numbers of tech women, for example at the HTCE, it’s less than 20%. So, what we try to do with Fe+male Tech Heroes is put female heroes in the spotlight. We tell their story and how awesome is to work in technology to inspire others, and connect them to each other so they know they’re not alone, that they’re stronger together.”
– Ingelou Stol, Founder Fe+male Tech Heroes
Founding Fe+male Tech Heroes
Ingelou and co-founder Hilde de Vocht started Fe+male Tech Heroes to serve a gap they noticed in the tech community. “I met a lot of women here in the tech world, and I saw them struggling. Or companies who told me: ‘we really want to have more women, but we don’t know how.’ I thought maybe we can become the web to connect peers with each other.” The organization strives to improve gender equality and diversity in the technology industry of Eindhoven.
Mentoring with ESI
Her work to help, connect, and empower people doesn’t stop at Fe+male Tech Heroes. Ingelou is also an ambassador of the Expat Spouses Initiative (ESI) Women for Women Program. At first, she was skeptical about what she could contribute, but she soon discovered how her experiences could help others.
“When they first asked me to be an ambassador, I thought ‘I’m still young? So how can I help?’ but then I saw what the power of a network does. So, I think it’s about finding your strength in what you can bring. For me, that was bringing connections and inspiration.”
With more than 100 nationalities working at the HTCE, her past as a journalist covering foreign news, and the mission similarities of ESI and Fe+male Tech Heroes, perhaps it was natural for Ingelou to find so many ways to connect with the international community:
“As a journalist, together with a colleague I had my own foreign news segment on the radio. It was all about unknown international news and diving into stories outside the Netherlands. So, I was always intrigued. I also love traveling the world and the best part about traveling is meeting new people. It’s nice to grow in your perspective and views, and that’s exactly what happens when you have different cultures around you. I think we can be inspired by each other.”
Often the hardest part of any journey is the first step. Ingelou has recommendations of both Talents and prospective Ambassadors to help guide them.
It is never too late (or too early) to find what you’re passionate about. Once you align your passion with your professional skills you will embark on not only a successful career path but also meaningful one as well. And that is what many of us are searching for. Let the Expat Spouses Initiative show you the way with their Career Discovery Program or check out more inspirational stories about internationals in Noord Brabant and Dutch culture in the Tips, Trips, and Stories from our Community page.
A natural storyteller and aficionado of the written word, Ariel Slaughter works as a freelance writer and editor. She has a dual Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Rhetoric and Japanese Literature and Language from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a Master’s of Arts in International Relations from the International University of Japan.
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