In this opinion piece, Renee Dvir, solution engineering manager for Cloudera Australia and New Zealand, reflects on the domination of the Australian tech sector by men, and the work that needs to be done to achieve diversity and inclusion. This is essential for the industry to remain competitive on a global scale.
The imbalance of gender diversity at the top of the tech sector plays a role in attracting women and different ethnic groups into studying technology subjects after high school.
Therefore, it’s important to address the diversity barrier to get more women into tech roles and to encourage them to study tech courses at university, because there is a prosperous career waiting for them.
The latest figure shows the gap between boys and girls who aspire to take on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. That has resulted in only 9 percent of women going on to study STEM, compared to 35 percent of men.
Work is already underway to get more women in STEM studies and careers, and the Australian Academy of Science has details of at least 331 separate initiatives across Australia to try and increase female participation in the industry.
The process of creating gender equality will not be fixed overnight, but it will take societal change within the tech sector.
International Women’s Day was a reminder that the industry needs to play a part to support women into education, make the industry more attractive and introduce them into the workplace. We also need to encourage and grow our future technology workforce and leaders and fix the issues within the sector.
To get our future generations interested in technology, I am involved in the Tech Girls Movement foundation.
It is a competition for girls aged seven to 16 in Australia and New Zealand, and my daughters took part last year and loved it. This year I am a coordinator of the competition in two Sydney schools and the program focuses on technology and how technology can solve problems.
Solving problems is something we can all get behind and get passionate about, and the teams of girls work to find an answer for community problems with a technical solution.
Last year’s winner focused on children with disabilities. They created an app that helped locate the nearest disability friendly playground.
Watching the mindset shift these girls go through from not wanting to code to realising it solves problems and is fun is inspirational. Changing this mindset right from the start is the way we are going to see a real change.
There are many organisations that are proactively working to ensure equality and are contributing to real time behaviour change at all levels. They recognise that to succeed it needs to have a work environment where all employees can thrive in a culture of respect and achievement.
Across the Asia Pacific region of Cloudera, diversity has been important for a long time. Research from McKinsey found companies with diverse executives and employees will outperform by 10-30 percent.
Our Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan, Mark Micallef, knows the huge value diversity and inclusion brings. It makes us well positioned to be competitive, meet the needs of our customers and the market by having this richness of backgrounds – this is shown in our leadership team.
In my organisation, we have strong female leadership in Australia, and that is not because we promote women ahead of men, it’s because we are a meritocracy – we have great women with large amounts of talent, and they got to those roles on merit.
To increase diversity, we need to invite women to the table and be more active to include them in the recruitment process, instead of waiting for them to apply. Just opening the door to diversity is not enough, we need to actively seek it and make sure to showcase it.
These steps help create progress towards getting the balance right. With more female leaders, and encouragement for diversity on the company side, we will see more women progress their careers, take on opportunities they may have turned down, and aspire for more senior roles.
I entered the exciting field of data after a career in video tech, and despite coming from a different background, I knew the future would be built on data and was eager to be a part of it. It has been exciting to work in this industry where data technology solves problems.
Being a part of building the next Enterprise Data cloud platform at Cloudera means I am part of solving problems for a large range of different use cases. Every customer has a different story about how deriving insight from data can solve problems such as cybersecurity, predictive maintenance, IoT, and lots more.
Going forward, I will continue to lead by example and be a voice for creating an equitable workforce. Together with Cloudera, we are raising the profile of this issue by being a sponsor of International Women’s Day and expanding our sponsorship program.
To advance our own members, we are investing in ways for our employees to grow their skill sets, offer inclusive benefits and use data to ensure we have a culture that sustains gender equality.
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