In this guest post, Vinne Schifferstein (pictured above), managing director at MediaMonks ANZ, highlights a golden opportunity to close the tech gender gap locally…
The impact of the closure of Australian borders has been discussed at length by many experts and journalists – there’s been hardly any people coming across our borders for over a year now. Being born abroad, I feel blessed to be here, but homesick missing my family (my mum!). “Man up, it’s all for the greater good” is what I keep telling myself – after all, my individual personal story is insignificant compared to the impact we’re seeing not only on a macro level in the Australian economy but also, more specifically, on the technology sector here: talent drought.
According to research published by Deloitte Access Economics and RMIT Online, to ensure economic growth Australia will need 156,000 new technology workers by 2025. Prior to our border closure, more than 100,000 migrants came to Australia each year under the skilled migration program to help fill that gap. Hiring talent with diverse backgrounds, experience and skills is what makes the tech industry tick. But, unfortunately, that diversity doesn’t extend to gender. According to the Australian Government’s STEM Equity Report, women’s participation in STEM-qualified occupations in Australia increased by only two percentage points – from a paltry 11 per cent to 13 per cent – between 2009 and 2020.
With recruitment pipelines drying up, and a whopping 87 per cent of all jobs in Australia requiring digital literacy skills, I believe we have a golden opportunity to close the tech gender gap by reskilling and promoting the wonderfully talented women here in Australia. By partnering with organisations like Code Like a Girl, a community of women coders who seek to empower women and girls with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support needed to enter and flourish in the world of coding, those of us in the tech industry can help do just that.
Closing the gender gap in tech
A back-end developer by trade who has always loved working in tech, Code Like a Girl founder and CEO Ally Watson often experienced firsthand the isolation and barriers associated with being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Some of the fairly common headwinds women face when looking to embark on tech careers are:
- Difficulty breaking into the tech space with an educational background that isn’t technology- or science-based.
- Delays securing a first job with no previous Australian experience.
- Uncertainty about what roles to pursue.
- Low confidence in skills and about venturing into a male-dominated space.
These barriers to entry are very common, unfortunately. So, to attract much-needed women to the industry, Ally initiated a movement to close the gender gap in tech. Code Like a Girl focuses on making tech accessible, inclusive, open and – most importantly – fun through schooling, internships and events. Recently, a team of us from MediaMonks were delighted to take part in a mid-June Code Like a Girl event, where women from all backgrounds and ages (including a 14-year-old!) gathered to explore opportunities in the tech industry.
A movement gaining speed
The event hosted some well-known females in the industry who offered solutions and guidance, while providing a safe environment for women to ask questions, raise concerns, and gain insight into the career paths and technical roles that the speakers and facilitators shared – which is why the push for diversity in tech and these initiatives are so incredibly vital.
MediaMonks’s partnership with Ally Watson and Code Like a Girl is very important to us – we share the same values and are bundling forces to drive this agenda hard. To that end, our very own Anjali Biddanda, Mariëlle Bouwman and Laura Murphy facilitated some of the breakout sessions and served as wonderful examples of women who are not only flourishing in the tech industry, but spearheading change and leading the charge in closing the gender gap.
Anjali started her career as an analyst programmer at Accenture and developed into one of MediaMonks’ Adobe experience manager rock stars valued by many of our clients. She shared her reasons for going into tech – the rapidly growing industry, unlimited opportunities and ability to work across multiple industry sectors – as well as her interest in and passion for technology.
Mariëlle joined MediaMonks as a digital consultant and quickly developed her career managing some of our largest clients in New South Wales. Her passion for tech started at the age of 15 when – before the time of Facebook or MySpace – she built her own website from scratch to share stories with friends and family. Being innovative and curious by nature, Mariëlle shared her love of working with clients to supercharge their marketing and media with all things tech.
And Laura worked in various industries including insurance, finance, telecommunications and loyalty across multiple technology projects and programs of work before joining the MediaMonks family. Inspired by the emergence of digital transformation at enterprise level, Laura shared her excitement about the growing opportunities technology offers women across multiple industries.
Time to blaze trails
The tech industry continues to grow and develop, and to keep up to date, we desperately need new blood to push boundaries and innovate. In Australia, technology is quite literally uncharted territory for women and poses a great opportunity to blaze trails. But women need our support.
It’s time for tech-based companies to get involved in nurturing female talent and supporting their move into an area that desperately needs skilled professionals. Now is a great time to partner with organisations like Code Like a Girl to help women explore the wonderful opportunities a career in technology has to offer.
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