IWD 2021: Forbury manager on bringing more women into the IT industry
Comment from Forbury marketing manager Rebecca Emslie.
What does the IT industry need to do to attract more women in the years ahead?
There is a lot the IT industry can do in the years ahead, from recasting what is meant by ‘IT’ (it’s actually tech, it’s exciting, there are varied roles within it!), to showing women the opportunities that exist, and related to this, shining the light on women in leadership roles in IT.
Importantly, more focus needs to be placed on bringing women into the industry, supporting them throughout their careers with flexible work practices, and providing them with opportunities to rise in the industry.
What do IT companies need to do to ensure that more women have the opportunity to achieve senior leadership roles within their organisations?
A starting point could be offering training to all staff on unconscious/gender bias. In addition, organisations can support women in leadership roles through mentoring, coaching and development opportunities and creating a culture where women feel respected and that their ideas are highly valued. It needs to be understood that promoting women into senior leadership roles helps with recruitment, which helps with future promotion opportunities.
What is the role of government in attracting more women into STEM-based qualifications?
Governments can take steps by looking at STEM in schools: start them young, show that STEM learning can be fun, show career path ideas and those women in senior leadership as role models. Also, governments need to look at actively encouraging flexible workplace policies to support women with children. Other than this, there could also be funding, incentives such as tax breaks provided based on gender diversity.
What can women do to support themselves and their peers drive a more diverse and inclusive IT industry in Australia/New Zealand?
Women can look actively network with each other to share information on the opportunities that exist and experiences of working in the industry. Women who are already in the IT industry, and particularly those in leadership roles, could then step forward to offer mentorship opportunities to help perpetuate the cycle.
How do we get more women interested in tech?
This could be started early, in schools — promoting tech-related career paths and showing the benefits and the positives of working in the industry. Perhaps rather than focusing on the ‘how’, it could be clearer what steps are needed if the focus is shifted to ‘why’.
Women are very much needed in the IT industry, as tech companies look to reach the whole market and need a gender balance to do so. It’s important to have a broader perspective in all areas of their business, from design, culture, sales and marketing, and business development to succession planning, capital raising values alignment and good governance.