Originally posted on WomensAgenda.com.au:
We love covering women in tech – sharing their stories, learning their advice and hearing about some of the fascinating projects they’re working on that make the world better.
We love seeing leading women in tech, and locally we have a fair few at the very top of organisations. In Australia, some of our largest tech employers are being led by women including Microsoft and until recently Google – with former MD Maile Carnegie shortly starting up at ANZ as head of digital.
We also love seeing the growing number of female tech entrepreneurs creating innovative and scalable businesses that are transforming industries. Check out Melanie Perkins, co-founder of Canva, as an excellent example of how women are making work and life easier.
There are so many positive stories about women in tech we can reference. So many excellent role models demonstrating how they’re making the sector better by bringing a broad range or perspectives to the products they’re developing.
What we don’t love is the fact that technology is still so underrepresented by women. It’s the male-dominated industry that really has no more excuses for being male-dominated. Given it’s constantly changing and innovating, given its rise has been the steepest during the last couple of generations, and given technology is used by women as much as it’s used by men, there should be no legitimate reason for why men continue to outnumber women in this field.
Why do we need more women in tech? Aside from the obvious reason being that a more diverse range of people aids innovation and development, there’s also the fact that the technology sector is the one that will be creating more jobs in the future. We can’t afford to have one half of the population missing out on those opportunities.
As Bernard Keane wrote recently in Crikey, ABS figures reveal the tech sector (covering those in ‘computer system design and related services’) has expanded 25% in the last five years, to now employing more than 200,000 Australians. But nearly all such growth has been among men. Women continue to make up just 27.8% of the ICT workforce and the ABS stats actually reveal the problem is getting worse, despite all the rhetoric we hear about promoting opportunities for women in the field. One seriously concerning figure is the increase in girls NOT studying maths or science in high school: in NSW the number’s moved from 5.4% in 2001 to 14.66% in 2015.
Last week in its DiversIT Report, Davidson Technology found that of the 435,000 people working in IT (and registered as doing so on LinkedIn) just 31% are female. The figure drops to just 14% when looking at executive roles. At our current rate, Australia will not be able to meet the demand for technology workers, if women continue to be sidelined.
Clearly this is an issue that requires more than story telling and role models to fix. We need tech organisations to seriously up their game and for governments to come up with solid policy initiatives that can help. We need to address the high school curriculum and identify incentives for encouraging more girls (and boys) to study maths and science. We need recruiters to consider how they’re attracting new talent and where they might be putting up barriers for women, subconsciously or otherwise.
But because on Women’s Agenda we ARE about story-telling and giving more women a voice — and we’re sadly not yet able to hire a significant number of women into tech positions ourselves (hopefully in the future!) — we will use story-telling to help, and go to a wide range of women to offer their suggestions of ideas that can change this game.
So today we kick of our Women In Tech series, featuring Q&As with women doing a diverse range of work within the tech sector. They’re innovators, and leaders, and game-changers. Some never anticipated working in tech, others have been coding since they were in high school.
What they all share is a love for the sector they’re in, and a commitment to seeing more women involved in the future.
We’re kicking off the series with our first Q&A tomorrow, and invite you to share your ideas for women you want to see featured.
In the meantime, check out Imogen Studders sharing what we can do to encourage more women to work in technology.