My reason why - creating sustainable change for women in technology
The very first day of my professional career was spent in a factory building computers. That was 25 years ago now, but there are three things about my start in technology that have stuck with me. First, my fascination with technology started there and has grown ever since. Second, it was my first experience with inequality due to a dress code that required women to wear skirts or dresses only, no pants. (Note: not my first experience in breaking pointless rules, or my last.) Third, the company was 50:50 on gender, from the graduate program through to the executive leadership.
My career in technology started with gender equality and it’s only now that I realise the head start this gave me as a woman in technology. I’m determined now to create sustainable change so that I end my career with gender equality too.
I’m excited by the research released today by recruitment consulting firm Davidson Technology, that shows the overall number of females working in IT in Australia has increased by eight per cent in the last year. The research draws on data from Australian professional profiles on LinkedIn. Of the total number of people who listed themselves as an IT Professional, 61 per cent are male and 39 per cent female. This has gone from 69 per cent male and 31 per cent female representation in 2016.
This data shows the Australian IT industry is growing rapidly. In the past twelve months alone, LinkedIn has recorded a 25.7 per cent increase in the number of people in Australia that list themselves as working in IT fields.
This morning I spoke at the launch event for this DiversIT report about how I am committed to creating sustainable change for women in technology and the success NAB has had in changing the gender ratio of women in technology. We are passionate about diversity in our business and encouraging more women to choose a fulfilling and exciting career in technology. It is important that our business thinks differently about recruitment and that our business reflects the diverse community in which we operate if we are going to meet the changing needs of our customers.
One of the ways we are doing this is through the Connecting Women in Technology program. Since its launch in 2014, we have seen the number of women in senior technology roles increase from 18 to 27 per cent. This program aims to demystify what it means to work in technology for women and earlier this year we took a huge step in this by welcoming Sarah Moran as our Girl Geek in Residence.
The Girl Geek in Residence program aligns with NAB’s commitment to promote and engage women in technology. Sarah is bringing new tech experiences into NAB like the all-female hackathon #SheHacks, to help support women building their career in technology and help to create better technology outcomes for the customer. Working with Sarah as our Girl Geek in Residence is an opportunity to come together, use our knowledge and our networks to tackle the issues facing women in technology.
At the DiversIT report launch event this morning I was asked about what motivates me to be a champion for diversity. The answer is the personal impact our Connecting Women in Technology program has on individuals. I received this message last week, “a quick note to say thankyou, I've been the beneficiary of some amazing training and experiences because of your courage to challenge the status quo. I really appreciate it. I do, and will continue to, pay it forward in my own way.” Messages like this are my reason why.
I have loved having more women join the NAB technology team. There is one tech career that I am watching closely, someone who has used her own drive to learn, who puts her hand up for every opportunity, from work assignments overseas, secondments to volunteer in the Kimberley and job swaps with other tech companies. Along the way she has transformed her office admin background to switch to technology and is now a UX Designer in our digital team. If I can create more of that confidence, more of those opportunities, then 50:50 doesn’t seem so far away.
As one of the largest technology employers in Melbourne, NAB wants to play a leadership role to demystify what it means to work in technology for women. It’s crucial to realise that we all have a role to play. It is not just the job of HR or recruitment professionals to “solve diversity” – it is up to each individual and each leader, and every little step makes a difference.
Photo credit: @YishanChan