Highly educated immigrant women have difficulty in the Swedish labor market. Therefore, two Brazilian women started a network to facilitate the way into the IT industry. “Swedish companies can learn a lot,” says co-founder Denise Muniz.
The Beela network was started as late as March last year. But Denise Muniz has already seen immigrant women go from professions such as chef, actress and gym instructor to UX designer, Android developer and web designer.
Denise Muniz has her own experience of applying for a job as a relatively newcomer. She remembers it as a frustrating and sometimes confusing process to try to get a first interview with a Swedish IT company.
– I sent application after application but it was not until I received support that I myself could understand what I was doing wrong, she says.
The two Brazilians Denise Muniz and Juliana Araújo met at an event arranged in Sweden by the Silicon Valley company Women Hack. They shared the experience of being new in Sweden, and the need to speak a little Portuguese. In terms of careers, however, they stood in completely different places.
Today on Spotify
While Juliana Araújo came to Sweden for a job as a product developer, Denise Muniz moved because her husband got a job here. They quickly understood that it would be difficult to continue with their previous job as a business analyst.
– I realized that it would take years to learn the language well enough and that it could be faster to get a job if I changed careers to the IT sector.
She received support from Juliana Araújo: tips on training and mental support when things first went sluggishly during the pandemic and then with the applications for a first IT job.
– I was very frustrated. Then I got a female mentor in the mentor program “My Life’s Chance” and then it turned around. She could explain how a CV should be structured in Sweden, how I would make my skills and experiences stand out from the crowd. I also added a picture of myself, which is forbidden in Brazil, she says.
Today, Juliana Araújo is the senior product manager at Spotify, while Denise Muniz got her first permanent job as a web developer at a media company. But both realize that many more need the support that Denise received, and that this is especially true of immigrant women.
Statistics from Statistics Sweden support the thesis. Unemployment among immigrant women is 18.7 percent (14.3 for men) compared with 3.9 among Swedish-born people. A study from 2018 shows that this also applies to highly educated people: 55 percent of foreign-born (both sexes) had a job that was in line with their education compared to 80 percent of domestic-born.
Muniz: Important to feel part of society
As a newcomer to a country, it can be about seemingly small things that are needed, says Denise Muniz.
– If no one tells you that you have to register with a health center, I do not know about it. And it’s great that Jobbsprånget (internship program for new arrivals) exists, but I have to be told about it before I can use it, she says.
She also sees that there are things that companies can improve. Among other things, to write job advertisements in English and with word choices that are inclusive for women. As well as actually hiring new graduates.
– Many companies advertise a junior position but still employ someone with several years of experience. How do you then gain experience? she says and continues.
– It is a profit for the companies as well. Different backgrounds are needed in the IT industry.
So far, 34 people have started the mentoring program, mainly immigrant women, but also non-binary, where those who have just started the journey towards a job in IT are helped by mentors with similar backgrounds.
– In Sweden, a job is important to feel part of society. Without a job, one wonders if it was right to come here. So it’s a great feeling every time someone succeeds, says Denise Muniz.
Non-profit association started in the spring of 2021 with the aim of supporting mainly immigrant women and non-binaries from overseas countries who are looking for their first job in the IT industry, often after career changes. Beela started with an inspirational podcast and a newsletter. Is now a network of hundreds of people connected online. A total of 34 people have participated in the mentoring program.