Behind the Scenes: a Fireside Chat on Inclusion and Women in Tech at Babbel

Change Starts with Awareness

Last month, our Femgineering Community of Practice* and the Engineering Chapter** launched a new initiative — a Fireside Chat on Inclusion and Women in Tech. The new format aims to foster open and honest discussions about inclusion within our engineering and data teams. The goal is to provide a safe space for all voices to be heard and to deepen our understanding of the challenges and experiences at Babbel. 

*The Femgineering Community of Practice (CoP) is a women-centric community at Babbel, established in 2017, that supports and enhances the role and reach of Women in Tech.

**The Engineering Chapter is a group within our engineering team focused on professional development and knowledge sharing among Babbel engineers.

Format & Agenda

We were considering an event format to help us hear people’s voices about their experiences at Babbel and gain insights into aspects of inclusion within our engineering community. We also decided to go for a hybrid option so Babbelonians from both offices — the US and Germany — could join. However, we opted against recording the meeting as we wanted to make participants feel safe sharing their thoughts.

To make the discussion more tangible, we sent an anonymous questionnaire via Slack before the event, enquiring about individual experiences relevant to the topic. For instance, we asked about situations in which people felt welcomed or not welcomed at work in individual or team interactions. We also asked what specific behaviors they would like to continue or stop at Babbel to help engineers who are women feel a higher sense of belonging, value, and acceptance.

Responses to the questions mainly focused on the following topics:

  • Building inclusive teams.
  • Creating security in conversations.
  • Hiring.
  • Increasing participation of women in tech presentations/events.
  • Further support for conversations on inclusion.

Some examples of questions we created for a discussion based on Babbelonians’ stories:

Most respondents indicated that they feel a sense of belonging, acceptance, and inclusion in their teams. This positive experience appears to be based on the following:

  • Realising that my opinion is heard and valued.
  • Having space to share my perspective.

Question: What has your experience been with either creating these experiences in your teams or contributing to them?

We also received several details about experiences that do not positively contribute to inclusion. These included:

  • Being the only woman in the room.
  • Feeling different than male colleagues and being at a lower seniority level.
  • Facing delays in being taken seriously compared to male colleagues.
  • Needing to prove credibility as a developer.

Question: What insights would you want to share about your personal experiences related to these? What can you share about your experience managing teams where these issues were prevalent?

We heard that we need more opportunities for open dialogues where all perspectives, backgrounds, and opinions are valued.

Question: What does an open dialogue look like or mean to you? What have you done to help ensure we have spaces for these types of conversations?


When choosing our panelists, we had two main criteria: they should represent different perspectives, including different genders, backgrounds, and seniority levels. Also, there should be new voices who haven’t spoken at similar events yet.

We compiled a list of potential panelists and met with each of them to better understand their experiences and discuss their thoughts. We also shared all the questions in advance so they could choose the ones they were comfortable commenting on and think about their answers (as well as ask us questions!).

Resonance & Feedback

Since it was a hybrid event, we used Slido so that participants could send in their questions and vote on topics they were interested in.

The questions gathered during Q&A session referred to the following themes:

  • Increasing involvement in discussions that center on inclusion.
  • Hiring practices.
  • Current ratio of women in engineering leadership roles.
  • Efforts to address differences between men and women, including pay rates.
  • Recommendations for inclusive language.

After the event, we shared all the questions and answers on Confluence so everyone could access them instantly.

Attendance rate at this event was more than 90% (121 ‘yes’ to the event in their calendars), and 30% left anonymous feedback after the fireside chat. 93% of participants who left responses were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the event. 97% said the content discussed was useful and relevant for them and they would like to see more events like this.

To me, the most important and interesting stories were those of each participant. The stories showed different views on inclusion and revealed different life experiences. It inspires me to re-evaluate my perspective on the topic.

Alex Sulim, Principal Software Engineer, he/him

Examples of the main takeaways we received on Slido

Next steps

Our event was designed to highlight the value of creating inclusive experiences in engineering teams. We started the conversation about what inclusion means, what these experiences look like, and how to improve them at Babbel.

We want to continue this dialog internally but also externally with the broader engineering community.  We plan to host our next event in September and invite other tech companies to join the conversation.

Contact us if you want to join the next Fireside Chat on Inclusion in Tech!