We need more women in IT

Although women are approximately 50% of our society, they only represent 20% of IT students in Australia and 31% of the workforce in tech in the world. Why? In this blog, I will discuss why we need women in IT in Australia and across the world.

The untold story of women who changed the (tech) world

Identifying a strong role model is essential to inspire women in pursuing studies in STEM fields and career paths in IT. Even though women have made some of the most crucial contributions to technologies, their stories still stay untold and their names unknown. There are some of the women who have changed our world:

  • Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was the first computer programmer
  • Grace Hopper (1906-1992) worked on UNIVAC I, the first commercial computer in the US. She also invented FLOW-MATIC – the first English-like data processing language – which sparked the development of COBOL, which became the Navy’s standard operating language.
  • Radia Perlman (1951-) has created the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), a crucial part of the internet’s underlying foundation.
  • Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson (1918-) has made significant contributions to the United States’ aeronautics and space programs, including the calculations that helped sync Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module.
  • And a lot more can be found here.

More recently, I have been inspired by Melanie Perkins. Born in Perth, she is an Australian technology entrepreneur. While she was providing technical software support to students of the University of Western Australia, she co-created the platform Canva. Accessible in 190 countries Canva is empowering people to create professional quality design online. Melanie Perkins is one of the youngest female CEO’s of a tech start-up valued over A$1 billion and the third richest woman in Australia. Inspiring!

How to bring more diversity to IT

Education is key in bringing more diversity to IT. In the past few years, the development of applications, computer programming and data analysis have become an essential part of the skillset for our new world. I believe that part of the solution is to develop these skills from a very early age. When kids learn how to read, they could in the meantime learn how to create algorithms. It would help in developing young girl aspirations at an age where they haven’t been yet influenced by gender bias.

In December 2020, we accompanied Airborne IT in Western Australia to deliver a Virtual Reality school program to help students visualise their future. Thanks to virtual reality, kids who live in remote, landlocked communities could access to new perspectives. Access to virtual reality is essential not only from a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education perspective but also to support principals and teachers in regional schools who can use the technology to engage and inspire students, all genders included.

‘New Technologies are shaping our future society, and we need women to be part of it. It is transforming the way we live, we work, we interact with each other. It will also transform our healthcare ecosystem as well as our citizen experience. We want these fundamental changes to be gender diverse.’

 

Women must take their place in the IT world

Throughout my career, I have noticed that women in IT often think outside the square: they have a very creative approach when it comes to find new solutions. They are not afraid to admit failure which help in resolving issue more quickly and efficiently. We have a different way of thinking which makes diverse workplaces richer.

Technologies are shaping our future society, and we need women to be part of it. New technologies are transforming the way we live, we work, we interact with each other. It will also transform our healthcare ecosystem as well as our citizen experience. We want these fundamental changes to be gender diverse—our future needs to be sparkled by gender diversity. The more women will take their place in the IT world, the more women will feel inspired by them. We, as women in IT, need to make our voice audible, to make sure girls at school will consider tech as a valid option for their future.

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About Donna Rooney
Transition Manager & Program executive, Atos Australia
Donna has been working in IT for more than 30 years. Originally from Dublin, she joined Atos in 2018 as a Transition Manager for Government and WA Health Account, based in Perth. She is an expert in IT Management and Delivery of Program/ Projects. Donna holds a Bachelor of Science Business Management (Hons), Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and a Post Graduate Diploma in Information Systems Management, ECU, Perth.

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