Women Leading Tech: “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See” auDA’s Annaliese Williams On The Importance Of Visibility & Representation

Women Leading Tech: “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See” auDA’s Annaliese Williams On The Importance Of Visibility & Representation

Annaliese Williams is a specialist policy adviser at .au domain administrator, auDA. She’s also an expert policy analyst and an internet policy subject matter. Prior to this role, she was the director of internet governance at the Australian Government’s Department of Communications. No biggie.

With the 2022 B&T Women Leading Tech Awards fast approaching – of which auDA is one of the many valued sponsors – we spoke with Williams about industry representation, auDA championing gender equality, and why women and young girls can only benefit from joining the growing tech sector.

1. What inspired auDA’s involvement with the Women Leading Tech awards?   

auDA has been a proud sponsor of Women Leading Tech since it was established in 2020 and we’re pleased to be supporting the Awards for a third time this year. Cultivating talent and encouraging diversity in Australia’s tech sector is a key focus for auDA.

We have a great team of talented women leaders who help us deliver a trusted .au domain for all Australians. But we know that isn’t yet the norm for tech companies. We support the Women Leading Tech Awards to celebrate the women currently driving change in tech, and to encourage greater representation across the tech industry.

2. How do awards like Women Leading Tech help gender equality causes in the industry?     

For much of my career, I’ve been involved in international Internet and technology policy. Like the rest of the tech sector, there are far too few women involved in developing policies that underpin how the internet works – and how people around the globe benefit from it.

Awards like Women Leading Tech provide recognition for women in a male-dominated sector. This helps celebrate their achievements and recognises their vital contribution to the sector. The visibility the Awards bring is also important. Seeing women not only represented in the tech sector but thriving can go a long way in encouraging more women and girls to consider a career in technology.

3. Brands have often been accused of “performative” sponsorships, relating to important issues (Pepsi/BLM for example). Why is your partnership with WLT different?           

auDA’s purpose is to deliver a trusted .au domain for the benefit of all Australians. To help us achieve this, we engage with a diverse range of stakeholders to ensure we respond to the evolving needs of the Australian community. Women are clearly central to this mission! Engaging widely with the community and fostering a culture of inclusion is a key strategic focus for us; it’s not a passing trend.

auDA is also a membership organisation. We’ve recently refreshed our membership program to help build a broader and more diverse membership base. The membership program gives members the opportunity to have their say on matters relating to the .au domain, and we want to hear from more women in the sector! I encourage women with an interest in the Internet, how it works and is governed to get involved and find out more on the auDA website.

4. How has auDA ensured women are better represented and championed in the tech industry? Do you have any benefits/rewards policies to attract women into the industry?  

Diversity is important at auDA. We are aware that we’re part of a sector that continues to have a gender imbalance. It’s something we keep in mind as part of our recruitment processes.

We are currently tracking well in that regard: in addition to our organisation being led by an accomplished and respected female CEO, Rosemary Sinclair AM, 50 per cent of our board directors, 40 percent of our executive team and 54 percent of all staff are women. I’m proud of our inclusive workplace and the value placed on diversity and differences in views. We also offer professional development and flexible arrangements not just for women, but for all our staff.

5. Why do you believe gender-inclusive participation in tech is of such particular importance compared with representation in other sectors?      

Representation is important – you can’t be what you can’t see. There’s been a focus in recent years on encouraging girls to study STEM subjects but it’s important that women working in tech-related roles are visible so that girls have role models.

Seeing women succeed in traditionally “male” fields can help the next generation pursue careers as tech experts keeping critical infrastructure (like the .au domain) secure from cyber attack, or as network engineers who support the billions of Internet users each day!

6. What do you think the next decade will look like for tech, particularly if there is great gender representation in leadership roles?     

The tech sector is growing and the demand for workers, which is already high, is set to increase. This presents opportunities both for women and for the sector.

Technology is such an integral part of modern society; it impacts on the lives of women and girls but so few women are involved in the decision-making processes. Having greater representation of women, particularly in leadership roles, brings diversity of thought and experience, and is likely to lead to better outcomes for everyone.

Tech companies with a high proportion of women are likely to attract yet more women as employees. Over time this will contribute to a greater gender balance across the sector.

7. Finally, what’s one thing you’d like to say to the women working in tech or thinking of getting into the tech sector?     

The tech sector already has more jobs than it can currently fill – it’s a growing sector that is leading the way in workplace flexibility. There’s huge variety of jobs in the sector, from data scientists, network engineers, entrepreneurs to policy analysts, sales and marketing experts. For girls and young women considering their future studies to women seeking a mid-career change – consider a career in tech, there really is something in it for everyone!

Find out more about the Women Leading Tech Awards HERE.

Tickets to the awards are now on sale HERE.

Early bird tickets end: Wednesday 30 March 2022

As an initiative created to support gender parity and representation across the tech industry, Women Leading Tech is an event inclusive of non-binary and gender diverse members of the tech industry, as well as any individual identifying as a woman.

Thank you to our Women Leading Tech sponsors:

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auDA Women Leading Tech 2022

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